Singh, Snedeker among five Sony Open leaders

By Doug FergusonJanuary 15, 2016, 4:01 am

HONOLULU - Vijay Singh had his best opening round in more than three years, good enough for a five-way share of the lead Thursday in the Sony Open.

And it was just enough to beat players in his own age group.

Singh, who turns 53 next month and could be the oldest PGA Tour winner in history with a victory at Waialae, narrowly missed an 8-foot eagle putt on his final hole and still posted his best score in 19 years playing the Sony Open.

Brandt Snedeker and Kevin Kisner caught him in the afternoon. Snedeker holed out a long chip for eagle on the short par-4 10th and made two birdies late on the back nine. Kisner got up and down from a bunker for a birdie on the par-5 18th.

Ricky Barnes, winless in 205 starts on the PGA Tour as a pro, and Morgan Hoffmann also shot 63 in the morning.

Zach Johnson, Charles Howell III and Si Woo Kim were one shot out of the lead.

Even so, it was difficult to ignore the performance of the seniors in the opening round.

Fred Funk, who turns 60 this summer, made a late bid for the lead until a bogey on the 16th hole. He wound up with a 65. Davis Love III, who won the Wyndham Champion last August at age 51, birdied the last hole for a 66.

Sony Open in Hawaii: Articles, photos and videos

Singh, Funk and Love are sticking around next week for the Champions Tour season opener on the Big Island. It will be three straight weeks in paradise for Love, who opened his new year on Kapalua in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

Jerry Kelly is nearly in that group at age 49. He shot 65 in the morning and saw Funk headed to the first tee in the afternoon.

''He says, 'Hey, for the old guys, play good.' I go, 'What did you shoot?' He said 5 [under],'' Funk said.

Kelly told him that was two shots behind Singh.

''Yeah, the old guys are showing they can do it,'' Funk said.

So can the younger set.

Snedeker started his year at Kapalua with a new golf ball and a new driver, found something in his setup over the weekend and closed with 65-67 to tie for third. Kisner played in the final group on Saturday, found a slight glitch in his swing caused by wind and figured it out over the last two days.

Kisner won the final PGA Tour event of 2015 and finished ninth at Kapalua despite his 71-71 weekend. And he's right back in the mix.

''I really didn't work on much on offseason,'' Kisner said. ''We stayed with our plan, and the game has been great. I was striping it today, and that's what you need to do at this place.''

Snedeker wouldn't know. He hasn't been to Waialae in eight years and left with a bad taste in his mouth. That was in 2008, when the PGA Tour started a policy that when more than 78 players made the cut, the cut would be closest number of players to 70. It later was changed to a Saturday cut to help trim the field.

''I'm glad I came back,'' he said. ''It's a good golf course for me.''

Singh won the Sony Open in 2005 when he was No. 1 in the world, a year after the former Masters and PGA champion turned in a nine-win season on the PGA Tour. But he hasn't won since the Deutsche Bank Championship in 2008, which effectively wrapped up the FedEx Cup.

The big Fijian has been around long enough to realize that a good start is nothing more than that.

View galleryVijay Singh tied for early lead at Waialae

Kevin Kisner reacts to his birdie putt on the sixth green during the first round of the Sony Open go …

''I've been playing really well,'' he said. ''I just haven't produced the scores. I feel I'm playing well, and see what the next three days bring.''

It helped to hole some long putts, and Singh knocked in a 50-footer for birdie on his third hole. He added a pair of 20-foot birdie putts and a 30-foot birdie putt. More than a good day on the greens, and some solid scrambling at the start, was a book.

He said his body feels better than it has in years, which certainly helps. But he found a book that he has carried with him for the last 20 years that he began reading.

''I haven't read it for the last 10 years,'' he said. ''So I picked it up yesterday and started reading a few things that I've been doing, and it's just a different mindset. Golf swing has been the same (so) become a lot more aggressive this year. That's the plan, to attack the golf course instead of just trying to put it in the fairway and trying to make a good swing.''

The name of the book?

''I can't tell you,'' he said. ''I'd have to kill you.''

Yes, he laughed.

Jimmy Walker opened with a 69 in his bid to win the Sony Open for the third straight year.

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Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.

Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.

"I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."

Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.

"I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.

Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.

"Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."

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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.

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Man of the people

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Growing family

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Departure from TaylorMade

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Squashed beef with Paddy

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Victory at Valderrama

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm