Power Rankings: 2017 Shell Houston Open

By Will GrayMarch 27, 2017, 8:06 pm

The 2017 fantasy golf season stays in Texas this week, as the PGA Tour heads to Houston for the Shell Houston Open. A field of 144 players will tackle the Golf Club of Houston in the final event before the Masters.

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.

Jim Herman won this event last year by one shot over Henrik Stenson. Here are 10 players to watch in the Lone Star State:

1. Jordan Spieth: He'll be the crowd favorite this week, and deservedly so. Spieth lost here in a playoff in 2015 and followed with a T-13 showing where he made a late charge into contention on Sunday. While he hasn't cracked the top 10 since winning at Pebble Beach, Spieth enjoys playing in front of the partisan crowds and has the game that suits this layout which in many ways is designed to mirror Augusta National.

2. Henrik Stenson: The Swede has finished twice here, both last year and in 2013, on a course where his iron game thrives. Stenson surprisingly missed the cut at Bay Hill, but he played well in Tampa the week prior and is likely to get things back on track in a big way this week before heading down Magnolia Lane.

3. Rickie Fowler: Fowler hasn't slowed down since winning at PGA National, adding a pair of top-20 finishes. He now heads to Houston where he has contended twice in the last three years, highlighted a sixth-place showing back in 2014. Overall, he hasn't been outside the top 20 since a missed cut at Torrey Pines.

4. Jon Rahm: With Dustin Johnson bowing out on Monday, Rahm might be the hottest player teeing it up this week in Houston. He has continued to ascend since his breakthrough at the Farmers Insurance Open, nearly toppling DJ both in Mexico and in Austin. A second PGA Tour trophy isn't far away.

5. Phil Mickelson: Mickelson was using this event as his final Masters prep before it was cool. Lefty is a regular at the Golf Club of Houston, having played every year since 2008. That includes a win in 2011 and five straight top-20 finishes since then. There are many courses that can be considered Mickelson favorites, but this one is high on the list.

6. Justin Rose: Rose isn't receiving much attention heading into the Masters, but he probably should be. The Englishman started the year with a runner-up in Hawaii, added a pair of T-4 finishes on the West Coast and tied for 13th at Bay Hill in his most recent start. Sooner rather than later, his form will reach a crescendo.

7. Adam Scott: Scott won this event in 2007 but is returning for the first time since a T-14 finish in 2010. Like Rose, he skipped last week's WGC event in nearby Austin and arrives fresh and ready for one last prep event heading to Augusta. Scott is another strong iron player who should create plenty of birdie opportunities on a course that lacks penal rough.

8. J.B. Holmes: Holmes toppled Spieth and Johnson Wagner to win a playoff here two years ago, one of four top-12 finishes among a sporadic run of five starts that dates back to 2009. Holmes is able to unleash his driver over this par-72 layout with considerable success, and he finished T-12 in Mexico in his last stroke-play start.

9. Russell Henley: Henley may not be top of mind from a fantasy perspective, but he should be this week. The Georgia product has been known to get streaky from time to time, especially on the greens, and has finished T-7 or better each of the last three years in Houston. Also tied for ninth just three weeks ago at Innisbrook.

10. Matt Kuchar: Kuchar has only played this event four times since 2010, but three of those trips ended with top-10 finishes including a playoff loss to Matt Jones in 2014. Kuchar has been his reliable self of late, with top-25 finishes in four of his last five stroke-play starts.

Getty Images

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."

Getty Images

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

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm