Tiger only looking at one trophy at East Lake

By Doug FergusonSeptember 24, 2009, 1:27 am
 THE TOUR Championship by Coke 2007 LogoATLANTA – So many scenarios. So many good players. So much money on the line.

Tiger Woods is keeping it so simple.

He tees it up Thursday in the Tour Championship against a 30-man field at East Lake. His goal is to shoot the lowest score.

“You always have the same approach and same attitude that you try and win every tournament you enter,” Woods said. “Whether it’s a regular tour event, a playoff event, World Golf Championship, Players, whatever it may be, it’s the same intensity. You bring the same attitude to play. … You win it, and you take care of everything else.”

Everything else includes a $10 million bonus – $9 million in cash – for capturing the FedEx Cup, which in its third season appears to have finally delivered a compelling conclusion.

Woods is the No. 1 seed by virtue of his five PGA Tour victories that put him atop the standings, and a sixth victory in a playoff event two weeks ago at the BMW Championship.

The next four seeds – Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk, Zach Johnson and Heath Slocum – don’t have to look at a leaderboard. If they win the Tour Championship, they win the FedEx Cup.

The points can get confusing, and there are a couple of wild possibilities.

– Furyk and Padraig Harrington can capture the FedEx Cup without having won a single tournament all year.

– Marc Leishman can win the FedEx Cup provided Woods finishes 10th or worse, and the next four seeds finish fifth or worse.

How did Leishman get in this position? Furthermore, who is Leishman?

He’s a PGA Tour rookie from Australia with a strong swing and beautiful touch with the putter. He was on the verge of being eliminated from the playoffs outside Boston three weeks ago until making an eagle on the final hole. His only way into the Tour Championship was to finish third in Chicago, and he played bogey-free the final round with Woods at his side to tie for second.

– Slocum could win the FedEx Cup by winning the Tour Championship. He wasn’t even sure he would make the 125-man field at the start of the playoffs until his wife did the math and realized he qualified at No. 124 by two points. A week later, he won The Barclays over a world-class cast of runner-ups – Woods, Harrington, Stricker and Ernie Els.

– And the most bizarre scenario of all? There could be two sudden-death playoffs on Sunday – one to decide the Tour Championship, another to decide the FedEx Cup. It might even be the same two players.

Imagine Furyk and Scott Verplank tied after 72 holes. They would have a playoff for the Tour Championship. If Verplank were to win, that would leave them tied in the FedEx Cup standings, and they would return to the par-3 18th for a playoff with a much bigger payoff.

Furyk has heard all the possibilities and is ready to stick a peg in the soggy turf of East Lake.

“The thing I probably haven’t enjoyed for the whole week is the ‘what if,”’ Furyk said. “I’ve had people ask me, ‘What if? What if? What if?’ All the way down the line. It all doesn’t really matter until we tee it up and go figure it out.”

The points and possibilities might be hard to digest. Still, the Tour Championship is significant for the first time in six years, and suddenly is elevated in stature.

It had become golf’s version of an All-Star game, bringing together the top 30 players from the money list to celebrate their season. Only twice this decade has it contained any drama – in 2000, when Phil Mickelson won at East Lake to deny Woods a shot at his 10th victory; and in 2003, when Woods and Vijay Singh were locked in a race for player of the year and the money title.

Now, it likely has its strongest field ever, even if that might not show up in the world ranking or the money list.

The top 30 represents the best players of the season, and the hottest players of the last month. No one missing at East Lake can make a case that he belongs at the Tour Championship. Of the top 20 in the world, four PGA Tour members did not make the top 30 – Singh, Sergio Garcia, Camilo Villegas and Ian Poulter. None has won a tournament this year.

“They might not be the best-ranked players, but they are the best performers,” Retief Goosen said. “It’s nice to see this come down to the very last event, which is what it’s supposed to do. It used to be for the guy leading the money list. It was just another event. Now, this means a lot more. It’s a high-profile event.”

If he can’t win a major, Woods takes pride in winning events on strong courses against strong fields.

This would fall into that category.

“If you look at years past before we had this format, it was basically the hottest players for the year,” Woods said. “This is a little bit different, though, because you actually get some of the hotter players later in the year. It adds for a little bit more excitement.”

Woods could have skipped the Tour Championship in the first year of the FedEx Cup and still won the $10 million. Singh only had to show up and play four rounds to win it last year.

This time, the FedEx Cup could be up for grabs until the final putt Sunday.

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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