Expert Picks: Northern Trust Open

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 14, 2012, 2:58 pm experts offer up their fantasy choices below for the Northern Trust Open. Each week a panel of experts will offer up their picks from four groups of players based on Golf Channel's new fantasy game, Fantasy Challenge. We will also keep track of their scores and standings. The panel consists of: senior writers Rex Hoggard, Randall Mell and Jason Sobel; contributors John Hawkins and Win McMurry; editorial director Jay Coffin;'s Rob Bolton; 'Morning Drive' hosts Gary Williams and Erik Kuselias; and Golf Talk Central contributor Ryan Ballengee.

Win McMurry

Group 1: K.J. Choi: He cashes checks at Riviera. Never missed a cut. In 11 starts has four top-10s, including a T-7 last year. He knocked the rust off overseas on the desert swing, but has had a week to rest and readjust back in the United States.

Group 2: Aaron Baddeley: I typically avoid the defending champion, but not at Riviera. Since 2003 we've seen two back-to-back champions here, a trend as winners and runner-ups' names are frequently repeated in this tournament's history books. Oh, and he tied for fourth last week.

Group 3: Jimmy Walker: He comes in off a T-9 at Pebble, one of two top-10s in his last three starts, and he finished T-4 in this event a year ago.

Group 4: Fred Couples: Despite the daily struggles with his back, Freddie always seems to find a way into contention at Riviera. He loves L.A., loves the course, loves the people he reconnects with here each year, and he finished T-7 here last year after spending a majority of the week in the lead.

Ryan Ballengee

Group 1: Phil Mickelson: Got burned last week by ranking him but not picking him. He's a two-time winner and clearly rejuvenated after Pebble.

Group 2: Kevin Na: In the top five in his last two starts, he had a chance to win here in '10 and was in the top 10 last year.

Group 3: Jimmy Walker: Quietly playing some excellent golf, Walker has improved dramatically here every year - 70th, to 37th, to 4th last year.

Group 4: Fred Couples: T-33 last week in Dubai, has his back fixed and is celebrating his 30th Riviera start.

Rex Hoggard

Group 1: Luke Donald: The world No. 1 is making his PGA Tour season debut this week and if we learned anything from 2011 it was that 'Luke Donald Disease' may not collect a ton of trophies but it cashes a lot of checks.

Group 2: Aaron Baddeley: Defending champion never signed for a card over 69 last year and the Australian showed good form last week with his fourth-place finish at Pebble Beach.

Group 3: Padraig Harrington: Irishman showed signs of life last week with his first top-10 Tour finish since last year's Wells Fargo Championship.

Group 4: Jason Gore: When it comes to feel-good stories it's tough to find a better rooting favorite than Los Angeles-area resident who landed a coveted sponsor exemption into the Northern Trust thanks to a viral campaign on Twitter.

Rob Bolton

Group 1: Luke Donald: No. 1-ranked golfer in the world. Unfinished business after missing the cut at Riviera last year. Top-sixes here the previous three years.

Group 2: Aaron Baddeley: The defending champion posted a solo fourth at Pebble Beach last week. He's cashed at Riviera in all nine of his starts.

Group 3: Jimmy Walker: Recorded one of his three fourth-place finishes in 2011 here. Top-10s in two of his last three starts, including a share of ninth at Pebble Beach.

Group 4: David Hearn: First-timer at Riviera has had trouble avoiding the big number lately but he's a good fit with the course profile.

You can watch complete coverage of the Northern Trust Open Thursday-Friday live on Golf Channel from 3PM-6PM ET.

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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