Power Rankings: 2017 RBC Heritage

By Will GrayApril 11, 2017, 6:49 pm

The 2017 fantasy golf season heads to the lowcountry this week, as the focus of the golf world shifts to South Carolina for the RBC Heritage. A field of 132 players will tackle Harbour Town Golf Links, with the winner donning the plaid jacket.

Be sure to join the all-new Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge to compete for prizes and form your own leagues, and log on to www.playfantasygolf.com to submit your picks for this week's event.

Branden Grace won this event last year by two shots over Russell Knox and Luke Donald. Here are 10 players to watch in Hilton Head:

1. Matt Kuchar: Fresh off a backdoor T-4 finish at the Masters, Kuchar returns to the site of his most recent victory back in 2014. He hasn't fallen out of the top 10 since, with a T-5 finish in 2015 and a T-9 result last year, and his solid tee-to-green game typically pays off in a big way amid the cozy confines of Harbour Town.

2. Russell Henley: The Georgia native is officially on a hot streak, having backed up his win in Houston with a T-11 finish at the Masters that earned him an invite back next year. Henley is notoriously streaky, especially on the greens, and his Harbour Town track record is highlighted by a T-6 finish in 2013. With six top-20 finishes in his last nine starts, there's no reason to expect he'll slow down now.

3. Luke Donald: He's no longer playing like the No. 1 ranking he once held, but Donald has done everything but win this event over the last decade. Six top-3 finishes in his last eight starts, including a T-2 finish last year, make the Englishman a player to watch this week, especially since he flashed some game at Riviera (T-17) and PGA National (T-27).

4. Charley Hoffman: Hoffman was impressive for much of last week while dealing with the spotlight of leader, and he has been surprisingly consistent along the Calibogue Sound. Hoffman has compiled three top-15 finishes in the last five years at this event, and he now has five top-25 finishes over his last seven overall starts.

5. Branden Grace: The defending champ is known for his long game, but clearly he has an affinity with the strategy required to find the smallest greens on the PGA Tour. Grace tied for seventh in his Harbour Town debut in 2015 before last year's victory, the latter of which came off a Masters missed cut. This time, he finished T-27 at Augusta National.

6. Jim Furyk: Furyk was unable to defend his title last year because of injury, but his accurate play off the tee has often set him up well at this particular event. Dating back to 2005, he has racked up seven top-10 finishes including a pair of wins and a pair of runner-up finishes. Don't be surprised if he adds to either tally this week.

7. Brandt Snedeker: A winner here in 2011, Snedeker hasn't cracked the top 10 since and actually missed the cut last year. But he, like Grace, put up a solid T-27 finish at the Masters and has shown before that he has the style of game to tame Harbour Town, especially if his streaky putter begins to cooperate.

8. Tyrrell Hatton: Hatton was a popular sleeper pick for the Masters but surprisingly missed the cut after rounds of 80-78. He'll hope to follow in Grace's footsteps by working his way into contention, and there's reason to think he will considering his early exit at Augusta National interrupted a run of seven straight worldwide top-15 finishes.

9. Matthew Fitzpatrick: Another Englishman makes the list as Fitzpatrick looks to channel the form that put him in the mix at Bay Hill a few weeks ago. He is making his third start here, having finished T-23 in his 2014 debut, and lists Harbour Town as his favorite stop on the Tour calendar. He's made six straight cuts and doesn't need length off the tee to contend here.

10. Adam Hadwin: The Canadian hasn't really slowed down since earning his first career win at Innisbrook last month, a course like Harbour Town that requires precision off the tee and into the green. Hadwin finished T-6 at Bay Hill the very next week, took some time off to get married and promptly returned with a respectable T-36 showing in his Masters debut. Finished T-30 here last year.

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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