Spieth on verge of second win in as many weeks

By Doug FergusonDecember 7, 2014, 12:11 am

WINDERMERE, Fla. – Jordan Spieth flew from Japan to Australia to Dallas the last two weeks, took a day off and then came over to Florida for the Hero World Challenge.

His game traveled with him.

One week and half-a-world away from his six-shot victory in the Australian Open, Spieth was practically flawless Saturday at Isleworth. He opened with three straight birdies and capped his day with a 50-foot birdie putt for a 9-under 63 and a seven-shot lead over Keegan Bradley and Henrik Stenson.

''Felt strong coming off last week,'' Spieth said. ''Job is not done this week, but I'm a believer in my own momentum. I'm going to go out tomorrow with a very similar strategy to today. If the putts go and the breaks go my way, hopefully shoot a round like today. If not, I'm still going to have to shoot under par to win this golf tournament.''

Spieth was at 20-under 196.

He said he has never been 20 under on any course through 54 holes, and he has never finished a tournament that many under par. That gave him a target for Sunday, when he goes after his second straight victory.

Tournament host Tiger Woods was 20 shots behind and in dire need of his antibiotics taking effect. Woods lost his voice overnight and had nausea on the practice range and the golf course. He felt slightly better at the end of his round when he made three straight birdies for a 69.

He remained in last place.


Hero World Challenge: Articles, videos and photos


Bradley made four straight birdies around the turn on his way to a 65. He will play in the final group with Spieth.

''I've got to shoot a low one and get some help from Jordan,'' said Bradley, who has not won in more than two years. ''He's such a good player. I don't expect that. I'm going to have to shoot a really low one.''

Stenson, who played in the final group with Spieth on Saturday, recovered from a sluggish start with four birdies over his last eight holes for a 68.

''I don't think anybody is going to catch him tomorrow unless he's having a really bad day,'' Stenson said. ''Seems to be a one-horse race going into Sunday. He's a very solid player and playing solid golf at a very young age.''

Stenson recalls Spieth making a spirited charge at the Swede in the Tour Championship last year. He also is aware that Spieth finished one shot out of a playoff in Japan and won in Sydney against a field that included Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott.

''We're going to see a lot of him in the years to come,'' Stenson said.

Spieth elected to return Saturday morning to complete the rain-delayed second round instead of finishing in darkness. He had clear vision in the morning – not only of his chip to 5 feet to save par, but of Steve Stricker's 50-foot birdie attempt across the green.

Spieth had about the same putt later in the day, only going in the opposite direction of Stricker's putt. That at least gave him an idea of the speed, though he had imagined a 3-foot circle around the hole that he would have accepted to walk off with par.

This turned out even better. The putt dropped for an unlikely birdie, and Spieth raised his putter as it dropped. He was all smiles walking off the green.

''I put my putter up, which usually means it will find a way to lip out,'' Spieth said.

No chance on this day.

He opened with an 18-foot birdie putt on No. 1, got a good bounce with his 7-iron on the par-3 second to about 8 feet, and then made birdie on the par-3 third. After that, his iron play and his short game – always exquisite – were so good that he didn't need to make any big putts.

Wrapping up his second full season as a pro, Spieth gets a new experience on Sunday - playing with a big lead.

''I think I've got to have a number tomorrow to go out and really chase,'' he said. ''I haven't finished in the 20s (under par) before ever in my career, and I think most of the guys that are in this event have somewhere. So that would be a good goal, to go out there and shoot under par. Hopefully, it's good enough.''

Bradley will be chasing with a short putter, as he has done this week ahead of the Jan. 1, 2016, ban on the anchored stroke used for his belly putter. Bradley in the 2011 PGA Championship was the first player to win a major using a belly putter.

''I've had five years and hours and hours of practice that are now taken away from me,'' he said. ''But it's fun to come out here and prove to everybody and myself that it's not a big deal. This is probably the best three days of putting I've had in a couple of years.''

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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