Expert Picks: Sony Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 11, 2012, 3:07 pm experts offer up their fantasy choices for the Sony 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.

Rex Hoggard

Group 1: K.J. Choi: Won here in 2008, tied for fifth last week and was a rare bright spot for the International Team at the President's Cup.

Group 2: Davis Love III: Captain America may say he has no interest in playing this year's matches, but he burns to make another Ryder Cup team.

Group 3: Jimmy Walker: Fresh off his best year on Tour and finished fourth last year in Hawaii.

Group 4: Jason Bohn: Plenty of experience at Waialae and looking for a rebound year. Plus he still may be celebrating Alabama's win in the BCS Championship.

Jason Sobel

Group 1: Webb Simpson: Let's not over-think this; he contends every week. Take a sure thing when you can get it.

Group 2: Charles Howell III: Five top-10s at Waialae in 10 career starts. That first Sony Open win is coming soon.

Group 3: Chad Campbell: Owns three finishes of 13th or better at this event in the last four years. The other time? He forgot to register.

Group 4: Billy Hurley: While stationed at Pearl Harbor, former Navy man played Waialae a handful of times.

Rob Bolton

Group 1: K.J. Choi: Hoping my competition leans on Steve Stricker and Webb Simpson here. Choi won the Sony in 2008.

Group 2: Charles Howell III: Chalk. He's 10-for-10 with five top-fives here.

Group 3: Brian Gay: Top-25s in his last three trips to the Sony. Splits fairways and saves pars.

Group 4: Stephen Ames: Wide-open selection. Putting my stock in five top-20s in seven starts at Waialae.

Jay Coffin

Group 1: KJ Choi: He's won here, has three top-10s and played well at Kapalua last week.

Group 2: Mark Wilson: If the defending champ is in Group 2 I think you have to take a chance on him.

Group 3: Jason Kokrak: A lot of people are high on this rookie; we'll see what he's made of right away.

Group 4: Jason Bohn: No real strategy here, just a gut feeling.

Gary Williams

Group 1: Webb Simpson: Possibly the most consistent American in the world right now and recorded a solid third place finish last week at Kapalua.

Group 2: Charles Howell III: Whenever you look at someone's record and see five top-fives in 10 starts, it is bound to get your attention.

Group 3: Cameron Tringale: Might be overlooked with two missed cuts at Waialae, but jumped from 179th to 68th on the money list in 2011 behind solid play.

Group 4: Russell Knox: First start of his rookie season after finishing 12th on the 2011 Nationwide Tour money list. Will look to start the next phase of his career strong.

Erik Kuselias

Group 1: Steve Stricker: Seems like a no-brainer. The man won last week and has played well at Waialae, with 6 top-10s in 12 Sony Open starts.

Group 2: Charles Howell III: After a solid 2011, Chuckie Three Sticks is looking for a hot start in 2012. This course seems to fit his eye.

Group 3: Brian Gay: Waialae CC is not a long course and requires driving accuracy and a strong short game. Gay seems to fit that bill.

Group 4: Russell Knox: After watching him in 2011, I know this guy can play and think he will get his PGA Tour career off to a great start this week.

 Win McMurry

Group 1: Webb Simpson: Surprised me with a nice finish at Kapalua. Combine that confidence with a little experience and I think Simpson will add another trophy to his quickly-growing collection.

Group 2: Steve Marino: Tough choice here but I give the edge to Marino based on his pure percentage of success here: three top-10s in four career starts.

Group 3: Chad Campbell: Solid record here with T-13 and T-8 finishes the last two years. He has two other top-10s here as well since 2006.

Group 4: Kyle Reifers: The Wake Forest grad doesn't have experience on his side, but does have the ability to hit fairways - a necessity this week and common thread among past champs.

Ryan Ballengee

Group 1: Steve Stricker: Last week's winner has an outstanding record at Waialae, including three top-4 finishes in the last five years.

Group 2: Charles Howell III: Since 2005, he has finished everywhere in the top 5 but first.

Group 3: Chad Campbell: Has a good track record at the Sony Open, and had his second-best finish here last season.

Group 4: Russell Knox: Got to the PGA Tour, in part, with a high-pressure win as a Nationwide Tour Monday qualifier. Lots of pressure this week, too.

Randall Mell

Group 1: Webb Simpson: Showed some terrific ball-striking in last week's T-3 finish at Hyundai. Putter should be warmed up this week to complete the mission.

Group 2: Kevin Na: Liked that 64 he put up in the second round at Kapalua. Also like his Sony showings of T-5 in 2009 and T-4 in 2008.

Group 3: Paul Goydos: His Sony victory five years ago still resonates despite three missed cuts since.

Group 4: Matt Bettencourt: That T-5 last year gets your attention, and he should have good vibes in his return this week.

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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