Fact Pack: The Players Championship

By Will GrayMay 7, 2013, 9:36 pm

This week, the PGA Tour hosts its flagship event, as 145 players look to conquer TPC Sawgrass and claim The Players Championship. The Stadium Course provides a stern test each year, with firm and fast conditions and a finishing stretch of holes 16-18 that will test the nerves of even the strongest competitors. With that in mind, here is a look inside the numbers to see which players may contend for the title and help your Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge team in the process:

• While there are many keys to winning against a field as strong as the one assembled this week, one of the better indicators for success at TPC Sawgrass of late has been par-4 performance. Since 2008, the eventual winner has finished T-2 or better for the week in the category, with Tim Clark and Sergio Garcia setting the pace on the par-4s en route to victory. This should bode well for Bubba Watson, who currently leads the Tour in par-4 birdie average.

• While Billy Horschel leads the Tour in made cuts, hoping for his 24th in a row this week, Jimmy Walker is hot on his trail. Walker, who has notched four top-10 finishes this season while extending his made cut streak to 21 in a row, is currently seventh on Tour in birdie average and ninth in the all-around ranking. In three appearances at TPC Sawgrass, the Texan has made the cut twice, finishing inside the top 35 both times he's played the weekend.

• While past history at a particular venue is often a good indicator of future success, that hasn't necessarily been the case for recent winners of this event. Matt Kuchar, K.J. Choi and Tim Clark have each taken home the crystal vase once across the last three years, but the trio combined for just one top-10 finish in 23 collective starts at TPC Sawgrass prior to their breakthrough wins (Clark was T-9 in 2009, a year before he won).

• Though his results haven't met expectations through the early part of the 2013 season, Rory McIlroy boasts a stat line that indicates a return to the winner's circle may be in the near future. The Ulsterman, who now has recorded four top-25 finishes in his last five starts, currently leads the PGA Tour's all-around ranking, comprised of a variety of key metrics. The reigning PGA champion is fourth on Tour in GIR percentage, fifth in par-4 birdies, sixth in driving distance and eighth in birdie average.

• A runner-up here last year, Zach Johnson has largely struggled to regain the form that led to a pair of wins during the 2012 season. Johnson, who has five total top-25 finishes at TPC Sawgrass in eight appearances, began his 2013 campaign by tying for 18th among the winners-only field at Kapalua, but since then has cracked the top 25 just once in 10 events, a T-23 finish at the Humana Challenge. The former Masters champ can likely assign most of the blame to his putter; after finishing the season ranked 10th (2010), 11th (2011) and sixth (2012) on Tour in strokes gained putting, Johnson has fallen all the way to 124th in the category thus far in 2013.

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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