US Open field to be determined more on ranking

By Doug FergusonFebruary 5, 2011, 11:16 pm

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The U.S. Open will rely more on the world ranking than money list in America and Europe to determine which players will be exempt from qualifying.

In sweeping changes to the criteria, the U.S. Golf Association said Saturday that players now will have two chances to crack the top 50 and get into the U.S. Open – on May 23 and June 13, the final ranking before the championship.

Thomas O’Toole, the USGA’s chairman of competition, said the change was a “direct response” to last year, when Memorial winner Justin Rose and runner-up Rickie Fowler moved into the top 50 two weeks after the cutoff.

“Our mission is to always provide the most competitive fields for our national championships,” O’Toole said.

Two other changes to the criteria are effective for this year’s U.S. Open, to be played June 16-19 at Congressional.

– Instead of the top 15 and ties from the 2010 U.S. Open being exempt, it will be the top 10 and ties. O’Toole said players were made aware last year that this would be changed. Among those hurt by the change are Justin Leonard and Ben Curtis.

– The Players Championship winner now will get a three-year exemption instead of a one-year exemption.

The bigger changes involving the world ranking start next year.

For the last decade, players who finished in the top 30 on the PGA Tour money list and the top 15 on the European Tour money list in the previous year were exempt from qualifying for the U.S. Open. Also exempt were the top two on the money list in Australasia and Japan, provided they were in the top 75 in the world. Those exemptions will be eliminated, along with any other reference to a money list.

Instead, the 2012 U.S. Open will take the top 60 – instead of the top 50 – from the world ranking published three weeks before the U.S. Open and the ranking the week of the championship.

Also to be eliminated in 2012 is an exemption for anyone winning multiple PGA Tour events in a 12-month period between U.S. Open. Over the last 10 years, only four players were exempt through multiple wins, and never more than one player per year. Usually, anyone winning twice in a year will qualify some other way.

The U.S. Open prides itself in being the most democratic of all majors because typically about half the field has to go through qualifying. One reason the cutoff for the world ranking being the third week of May was so the USGA would know how many spots would be available in the final stage of 36-hole qualifying.

Now it can assign alternates that would be added to the field depending on how many players cracked the top 50 in the final week.

Meanwhile, the PGA Tour still doesn’t lose very much for its members. It managed to keep the FedEx Cup criteria – the 30 players who reach the FedEx Cup finale at the Tour Championship remain exempt for the U.S. Open – and recent years have shown a majority of PGA Tour members in the Nos. 51-60 spots in the world ranking.

The U.S. Women’s Open will continue to rely on the LPGA Tour money list, even expanded it for this year from the top 50 to the top 70. This means fewer spots in the 36-hole qualifying, although the Women’s Open gets only about 1,000 entries, compared with 9,000 entries for the men’s championship.

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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