Power Rankings: 2014 WGC-HSBC Champions

By Will GrayNovember 4, 2014, 10:06 pm

The PGA Tour continues to kick off the 2014-15 season with the WGC-HSBC Champions, the fifth event of the new season. A field of 78 players will tee it up at Sheshan International Golf Club, the second of two events on the Tour's Asian Swing.

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Dustin Johnson won this event a year ago by three shots over Ian Poulter, but will not defend his title. Here are 10 players to watch in China:

1. Sergio Garcia: Garcia tied for second last week at the CIMB Classic and is now up to No. 3 in the world ranking, his highest standing since March 2009. He has now cracked the top 10 in six of his last eight PGA Tour starts and finished fourth here last year thanks to a final-round 63.

2. Justin Rose: Rose missed the playoff at the BMW Masters by one shot last week, and now he heads to a course where he finished T-5 last year and T-7 in 2011. The Englishman remains one of the game's best ball-strikers and should still be buoyed by his standout performance at the Ryder Cup six weeks ago.

3. Martin Kaymer: The German won here in 2011 and has reeled off two top-10 finishes since then, including a T-8 finish last year when he played his final 36 holes in 14 under. He hasn't teed it up on the PGA Tour since East Lake, but he did close his playoff run with three straight top-25 finishes.

4. Adam Scott: The Aussie is still shopping for a full-time caddie, but he has enough game to contend this week even if carrying his own bag. Scott has cracked the top 25 in each of his three prior appearances in Shanghai, and at No. 2 in the OWGR he is the highest-ranked player in this week's field.

5. Graeme McDowell: GMac finished third in Shanghai in 2011, then duplicated that result in this event last year. While he's still getting used to fatherhood, McDowell bounced back from an unexpectedly early exit at the Volvo World Match Play Championship last month by finishing T-16 at the BMW Masters last week.

6. Henrik Stenson: The Swede got off to a horrendous start here last year, shooting 74-76, but he found something at the halfway point and came back with rounds of 67-65. That's the kind of turnaround opportunity a no-cut event will afford, and it should boost Stenson's confidence from the get-go this time around.

7. Rickie Fowler: Fowler is finishing off a career year, albeit one that has not yet yielded a victory. While he hasn't played since the Ryder Cup, Fowler capped off last season with a run of seven top-10 finishes in his last eight starts beginning with the U.S. Open. His record in Shanghai isn't spectacular, though: he failed to break 70 last year en route to a T-55 finish.

8. Jamie Donaldson: The Welshman clinched the Ryder Cup in September, and since then has continued a strong run that included a T-4 finish last week at the BMW Masters. Donaldson was T-8 in Shanghai last year after bookend rounds of 67.

9. Gary Woodland: Woodland was a runner-up in Malaysia last week for the second year in a row, but his quietly successful play of late is beginning to garner attention - and rightfully so. The long hitter notched a pair of top-15 finishes during the playoffs, then went 66-67 over the weekend in Kuala Lumpur.

10. Bubba Watson: The southpaw tied for eighth in Shanghai last year, carding four straight rounds in the 60s, and now will look to pick up where he left off following four straight top-30 finishes in the playoffs to finish off his 2013-14 season.

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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