Power Rankings: 2015 Honda Classic

By Will GrayFebruary 24, 2015, 5:42 pm

The PGA Tour kicks off the Florida swing with the Honda Classic, the 15th event of the wraparound season. A field of 144 players will tackle PGA National this week, which has previously hosted both the PGA Championship and the Ryder Cup.

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Russell Henley won this event a year ago in a playoff over Rory McIlroy, Ryan Palmer and Russell Knox. Here are 10 players to watch in Palm Beach Gardens:

1. Rory McIlroy: McIlroy sandwiched a bizarre withdrawal in 2013 around a win (2012) and playoff runner-up (2014) at PGA National. Already a winner this year, he enters this week brimming with confidence and deservedly receives the top spot in the rankings as he makes his 2015 PGA Tour debut.

2. Justin Rose: Rose surprisingly missed the cut last time out at Torrey Pines, but his track record at the Honda can't be ignored: four top-15 finishes in five starts at PGA National, including top-five finishes in each of his last three trips. The Champion Course has traditionally rewarded tee-to-green ball-striking, and the Englishman fits that bill.

3. Keegan Bradley: Bradley was T-4 last week at Riviera, a course where he typically thrives, and now heads to another venue filled with positive vibes. Bradley is one of many pros in the field this week who makes his home in South Florida, and he has cracked the top 12 each of the last three years at this event, including a T-4 finish in 2013.

4. Lee Westwood: Like Bradley, Westwood lives near PGA National and has had some success on the Champion Course. The Englishman enters off a pair of top-10 finishes on the European Tour and he has turned five Honda starts since 2010 into a trio of top-10 finishes, including a fourth-place showing in 2012.

5. Sergio Garcia: Garcia appeared in line to win last week at Riviera before a bogey-bogey finish, but now he'll look to bounce back on a course where he tied for eighth last year. Garcia was also T-13 at PGA National in 2009 and at No. 6 in the OWGR he is the second-highest ranked player in the field behind only McIlroy.

6. Dustin Johnson: Arguably the hottest player on Tour, following a T-4 at Pebble Beach with a playoff loss last week at Riviera. Johnson is making only his third start at PGA National, following a missed cut in 2008 and a T-46 finish in 2013, but despite the relative lack of success he has shown no signs of rust following a six-month layoff.

7. Brooks Koepka: Koepka grew up in South Florida and will have plenty of support this week at PGA National. A winner last month in Phoenix, Koepka also won on the European Tour in November and already has three top-10 finish in only four starts this season on the PGA Tour.

8. Graeme McDowell: McDowell was T-46 here last year, but prior to that he reeled off three straight top-10 finishes at PGA National. He hasn't played in the U.S. since the BMW Championship in September, but the Ulsterman has shot par or better in 10 of his last 14 competitive rounds on the difficult Champion Course dating back to 2011.

9. Patrick Reed: Reed was a solid T-24 at PGA National last year in just his second Honda start, and this season has been a model of consistency, with a win last month in Maui and only one finish outside the top 30. Reed was T-29 at Pebble Beach in his last start and currently ranks 19th on Tour in total strokes gained.

10. Rickie Fowler: Fowler has been slow out of the gates in 2015, but PGA National has typically been a place where his game has shined. Fowler has three straight top-25 finishes at this event, including a tie for seventh in 2012 and a T-24 finish last year when he had four straight rounds of par or better.

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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
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Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

Well, this is a one new one.

According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.