Tournament of Champions gets Sentry as new sponsor

By Doug FergusonAugust 17, 2017, 12:13 am

Wisconsin-based Sentry Insurance has agreed to a five-year deal to become the title sponsor of the winners-only PGA Tour event at Kapalua, a move that strengthens the Tour's commitment to starting the new year in Hawaii.

The Sentry Tournament of Champions will be Jan. 4-7 and marks the 20th straight time the PGA Tour starts a new year on Maui.

''We just felt this was a perfect opportunity for Sentry to tell its story on a national basis, which you can do through tournament sponsorship,'' said Pete McPartland, the chairman, chief executive and president of the 113-year-old mutual insurance company.

South Korean broadcaster SBS had been the title sponsor and briefly farmed it out to Hyundai until the automaker switched its sponsorship to Los Angeles and the Genesis Open at Riviera. SBS had been looking for a new sponsor to take over before its deal expired at the end of 2019.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed Wednesday.

Sentry becomes the new sponsor during a strong youth movement in golf that has invigorated the winners-only event at Kapalua. The Tournament of Champions had lost some luster when Tiger Woods stopped playing after 2005, a few years after Phil Mickelson decided not to start his year in Hawaii.

PGA champion Justin Thomas returns to defend his title, after he held off Hideki Matsuyama a year ago. The previous winners were British Open champion Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed, two-time major champion Zach Johnson and former U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson.

McPartland described Sentry as a ''quiet brand'' that had grown rapidly and decided a few years ago to become more aggressive in extending that brand. Stephanie Smith, vice president of marketing and brand management, spearheaded a change in the company's logo from the iconic Capt. John Parker of the Colonial era to one that copies the concept of yin and yang with an ''S'' visible in the middle.

The deal has additional meaning to Smith, whose parents had a vacation home on Maui. Her mother has been a volunteer at the Tournament of Champions for 10 years and expects to do it again.

''Now she gets a shirt with my company on it,'' Smith said.

McPartland said the company hoped to benefit immediately from more name recognition. He said the partnership with the PGA Tour would allow it to entertain more top clients at Kapalua and other tournaments throughout the schedule.

Otherwise, only the name will change.

PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan had said last year that the Tour was contemplating a scenario where the LPGA and the PGA Tour play a winners-only format at the same venue. ''That has not materialized here,'' Monahan said.

Meanwhile, the Sony Open in Honolulu is the week after the Tournament of Champions. Its title sponsorship ends in 2018. For years there was concern that if one of the tournaments had left, it would be more difficult to stage the other as a single event in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

''We have been playing golf in Hawaii for over 50 years,'' Monahan said. ''And the two tournaments present a strong start to the calendar year that we looking forward to continuing.''

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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.