Watson rallies to win at Torrey Pines

By Doug FergusonJanuary 31, 2011, 4:47 am
Farmers Insurance OpenSAN DIEGO – Bubba Watson made vital putts on the last two holes Sunday, including a 12-foot birdie at the 18th, for a 5-under 67 to win the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in a finish that was dramatic for peculiar reasons.

Phil Mickelson – that other left-hander and the tournament favorite – was one shot behind when he chose to lay up from the rough on the 18th before Watson attempted his birdie putt.

Then came a loud cheer as Watson sank his putt for a two-shot lead, meaning Mickelson would have to hole out a wedge from 72 yards for eagle to force a playoff. He has his caddie, Jim “Bones” Mackay tend the flag – rare for a full shot from the fairway – and gallery gasped when the ball landed just behind the hole and started to spin back toward the cup.

But it never had a chance.

Mickelson had said the secret to him playing the revamped South Course was to play it safe, and he followed that strategy all the way to a runner-up finish. Mickelson closed with a 69 to finish one shot behind.

Mickelson said the grass was into his ball, and that a hybrid would not have been enough to clear the water. To hit 3-wood would have gone well over the green, which he saw as a difficult shot. He figured his best chance at eagle was from the fairway, using the bank behind the hole to feed it toward the cup.

“I’m disappointed,” Mickelson said. “I wanted to start the year off with a win. On the other hand, I played really good golf.”

Watson finished at 16-under 272 for his second victory, although this one came against a much stronger field than his playoff win at the Travelers Championship last summer.

“It showed I can do it,” he said. “I’ve done it twice now. I’m only 50 behind Phil and about 80 behind Tiger. So they better watch out.”

Watson held off Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Jhonattan Vegas, the Venezuela rookie coming off a win at the Bob Hope Classic last week. Vegas tied Watson for the lead on the 10th hole and stayed in range throughout the back nine until his 5-iron from the first cut of rough on the 18th came up well short and into the water.

Vegas made bogey for a 68 and tied for third with Johnson, who shot 66.

Tiger Woods also was in the field, although no one noticed during the final two hours. Woods, who started the final round eight shots behind, closed with a 75 to end his five-tournament winning streak at Torrey Pines. He had never finished out of the top 10 at Torrey Pines, but wound up 15 shots back in a tie for 44th.

It was his worst season debut since his first full season on the PGA Tour in 1997.

“I have some work to do,” Woods said. “There’s no doubt about that.”

Watson had a one-shot lead over Vegas when he flew the 17th green from a fairway bunker, leaving him a downhill chip that went some 10 feet past the hole. He made that for par to keep the lead. On the final hole, with the tees moved so far up that it played only 522 yards, Watson went long into a tough spot in the bunker, again with the green running away from him.

He played out safely to 12 feet, and pumped his fist once when it dropped into the center of the cup.

Mickelson made his own charge. Belting a driver on the 17th, he played a perfect wedge that caught the slope and stopped 3 feet away for birdie that pulled him to within one shot. But he popped up his tee shot to the left, and while it appeared as though he had a good enough lie to reach the green, he quickly pulled out wedge and hit back toward the fairway.

Watson, who couldn’t hold back tears when he won for the first time last summer as his father was dying, cried again. His father passed away from cancer late last year.

Bill Haas, who shared the lead with Mickelson going into the final round, bogeyed the first hole and never caught up. He birdied the last hole for a 75 and tied for ninth.

Anthony Kim (72) and newlywed Hunter Mahan (73) were both within one or two shots of the lead on the front nine, but they couldn’t keep up and tied for sixth with Nick Watney, who shot 63 to match the best round on the South Course since Rees Jones revamped it after 2001 to prepare for a U.S. Open.

Watson earned $1.044 million and most likely will crack the top 20 in the world for the first time in his career.

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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