Spieth shares lead at Hero World Challenge

By Doug FergusonDecember 4, 2015, 10:18 pm

NASSAU, Bahamas – Jordan Spieth feels like he's on vacation in the Bahamas. On the golf course, he's all business.

Spieth rallied from a rugged start Friday with three straight birdies, and then a surge on the back nine carried him to a 6-under 66 and a share of the lead with Jimmy Walker and Bill Haas going into the weekend at the Hero World Challenge.

''The grind is still there,'' Spieth said.

He had to work hard just to keep pace on a calm, muggy afternoon is the islands, where the wind wasn't strong enough to blow out a match and it showed in the scoring. Rarely has this holiday event with an 18-man field featured so many players near the lead.

For one brief moment on the back nine, there was an eight-way tie for the lead.

Walker, who began working on a new move in his swing just over a week ago, drove the ball as well as he has all year on his way to a 67. Haas, who received one of the two sponsor exemptions to the tournament hosted by Tiger Woods, had a 66.

They were at 11-under 133.


Hero World Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


Patrick Reed (65), Chris Kirk (65) and Bubba Watson (67) were one shot behind.

Spieth is wrapping up a big year, and he seems intent on going out in style. He traveled from Sydney to the Bahamas (with a brief stop at home in Dallas to do laundry) and began his push up the leaderboard with an eagle on the par-5 11th hole from about 30 feet. He followed with two more birdies to get a share of the lead.

''It's still all about rest,'' Spieth said. ''Coming off how much golf we've been playing, I'm still going to be about making sure I'm resting. ... But on the golf course, I'm still getting as intense and upset and highs and lows that I experience at a normal PGA Tour event.''

Spieth also was at 11-under 133 a year ago in the Hero World Challenge at Isleworth in Florida. That was good for a two-shot lead, and a 63-66 weekend allowed him to win by 10 shots. This is far different. Half of the field was separated by only three shots.

''The scores are just really good, which makes for an exciting weekend, and I'm just happy to hold my own weight for two days,'' Haas said. ''I think if I shoot 11 under on the weekend, then I'll have a really good shot. Simple as that sounds, that's the way you've got to keep it. If I play well, I think I'll have a chance. But if I don't, there are so many players that are playing well, the best players in the world, I'll fall back pretty quickly if I don't.''

Walker went to see Butch Harmon at the start of last week in Las Vegas to start working on a move where his head moves at impact, which keeps him from having to rely so much on timing. It's coming together nicely - and quickly.

''Driving the golf ball today, I haven't had that much fun in a long time, to be honest,'' Walker said.

No one has been playing more than Reed, or more places. And he's been playing well. He has recorded top 10 finishes in five tournaments since the Tour Championship in Hong Kong, Malaysia, twice in Shanghai and Dubai. He's happy with his performance, though far from satisfied.

''I know to get to all my goals I need to get Ws,'' he said. ''Top 10s, top 5s aren't going to cut it where I need to get to. Those are good fill-in weeks, but we need to get in contention a little more. We need to close some tournaments off.''

Not everyone took advantage. Billy Horschel had eight birdies and no bogeys on his card, which ordinary would please him greatly - except that he took a double bogey on the par-3 second hole, and a quadruple-bogey 9 on the par-5 11th hole without hitting into the water. He had a plugged lie under the lip of a bunker that he shanked into a bush, and his troubles ended with what he called a ''good putt for a 9.''

''This round today is very much how my year went,'' Horschel said with a grin.

Anirban Lahiri of India, who also received a sponsor exemption, was a little more exasperated. Lahiri felt as though he hit the ball well enough to be double digits under par. Instead, a double bogey on the 18th hole gave him a 70 and he was six shots behind. It felt worse.

''If my mom had putted, she would have shot 65,'' Lahiri said.

Justin Rose couldn't get home fast enough after his round of 72, which didn't take long because Albany is now his primary residence. That made it even more frustrating.

''You'd think I had never seen these greens before,'' Rose said.

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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.


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