PGA Tour season kicks off in Kapalua

By Doug FergusonJanuary 6, 2011, 5:56 pm

Hyundai Tournament of ChampionsKAPALUA, Hawaii – Geoff Ogilvy has 12 stitches in his finger. Zach Johnson cut a hole in his shoe to accommodate his bum toe.

Hawaii isn’t paradise for everyone at the PGA Tour’s season opener.

The 2011 season gets under way Thursday on the Plantation Course at Kapalua with a 34-man field of Tour winners from last year. Robert Garrigus was the last one to get in, winning at Disney in the final event of the year. Ogilvy was the first to qualify by winning the Tournament of Champions a year ago by one shot.

He has a chance to join Stuart Appleby as the only players to win three successive years at Kapalua, and Ogilvy appeared to be in fine form by winning the Australian Open and losing in a playoff at the Australian PGA Championship.

Ogilvy headed for the beach on Tuesday, and cut his right index finger on some coral reef while coming in from the surf.

He received more stitches than he needed as a precaution, but pulled out of the pro-am Wednesday and after another trip to the doctor, opted to rest until Thursday before deciding if he could play.

“It’s not ideal,” said his manager, Paul Galli. “It’s not so much a big cut, it’s just in an awkward position. It was fairly deep, and when you’re on the reef, you’ve got to be careful with an infection. They cleaned it out and put in some stitches.”

The Tournament of Champions has not been without its defending champion since Jerry Barber didn’t play in 1961.

Johnson also hurt himself in a tropical paradise, though it was nothing to boast about. He was in the Grand Caymans on a family holiday last week when fireworks left a trash can smoldering. He grabbed a hose and was running to the rescue, in pitch dark wearing flip-flops, when he slammed into a concrete step he didn’t see and tore off his toe nail.

He tried those sandals with golf spikes when he got to Kapalua. That didn’t work. For the pro-am Wednesday, he went to a larger shoe and cut out the toe, but the size left him uncomfortable. The plan for Thursday was to cut out the toe of his regular golf shoes and give it his best shot.

Johnson was taking it all in stride.

He managed to make it through the pro-am because players are allowed carts. Thursday is the real test: walking a 7,400-yard course that was carved out of a mountain overlooking Maui. It’s one of the longest walks of the year.

“It’s a win-win,” Johnson said. “Because if I play and get through this, I look like a stallion for the first time. And if I don’t, I go to the pool with my kids on Maui and watch the rest of them suffer.”

There’s not much suffering this week.

It’s the toughest PGA Tour event to get a tee time because it requires nothing less than a win, and those don’t come easily these days, even when Tiger Woods isn’t taking his share of them. Once they get to Kapalua, however, it’s a small field with a big purse ($1.08 million to the winner) and no cut.

The Plantation Course can look impossible, despite its 80-yard wide fairways. The typical trade wind is required to take advantage, although the Kona wind out of the opposite direction can be a bear. Either way, getting on the contoured, spacious greens with severe grain can make even the best look foolish at times. As usual, they manage.

“When I first came here, I couldn’t understand how anybody shot the scores that they were shooting,” Ogilvy said Tuesday. “But every year, I enjoy it more.”

The question is whether he gets to enjoy it Thursday.

There was friendly banter whether Ogilvy could get a third straight win now that Appleby is back at Kapalua and playing well. He shot a 65 on the final day at Victoria Golf Club – Ogilvy’s home course in Melbourne – to win the Australian Masters in late November.

Appleby hasn’t been at Kapalua in four years. It used to be easy to qualify because he was winning the Tournament of Champions so often. But he went into a slump, and pulled out of it in style by shooting a 59 to win The Greenbrier.

“I can’t believe it’s that long,” Appleby said of his absence. “It feels like yesterday I was here. But again, I had a child that was turning 2 at that time and now she’s 6. So I can do the math.

“You love to get off to a good start, and I’ve got a lot of mojo here,” he said. “I just hope I can create something resembling my previous form, because it will be a good week.”

Photos of past champions line the wall of the locker room, and it’s easy to see triple when getting to Appleby’s stretch. There are plenty of other familiar faces, too. Ernie Els returns after his two-win season, and everyone still remembers his record score of 26-under 268 in 2003 for an eight-shot victory.

FedEx Cup champion Jim Furyk, who won three times last year, returns after a three-year absence. He won in 2001. In one of the more intriguing pairings, U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell plays with Hunter Mahan. They haven’t played golf with each other since that singles match at the Ryder Cup that McDowell won to set off a European celebration.

It all starts with Arjun Atwal of India, the winner at Greensboro, hitting the opening shot to the 2011 season.

That’s a lot of pressure – not so much on Atwal, for it’s difficult to miss a fairway that can accommodate a small shopping center.

“It’s just another shot,” Atwal said. “I just hope I don’t top it.”

No, the heat is on Jerry King, who teaches at the Kapalua Golf Academy and serves as the announcer because of his booming voice. Atwal still chuckles at the time he played the old Buick Classic at Westchester, and the announcer struggled.

“He said, ‘Now on the tee, from Calcutta, Indiana, Arjeeen Atwale,”’ he said.

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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

Masters victory

Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative

Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket

Man of the people

Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief

Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together

Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018

Departure from TaylorMade

Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'

Victory at Valderrama

Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm
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Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

Well, this is a one new one.

According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.