Power Rankings: Waste Management Phoenix Open

By Will GrayJanuary 28, 2014, 6:32 pm

This week marks the 11th event of the 2013-14 PGA Tour season, as players head to the "Greenest show on grass" at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. (our Power Rankings for the Omega Dubai Desert Classic can be viewed here). A field of 132 will look to go low at TPC Scottsdale while dealing with the raucuous crowds around the famed par-3 16th hole.

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Phil Mickelson returns to defend the title he won last year by four shots over Brandt Snedeker. Here are 10 players to watch this week in Arizona:

1. Webb Simpson: After beginning the new season with a win in Las Vegas, Simpson has continued to impress and his T-23 at Humana was his first finish outside the top 10 since September. He holds the early-season lead on Tour in GIR percentage, strokes gained putting, birdie average and scoring average - not a bad combination.

2. Keegan Bradley: Bradley has been quietly consistent this season, finishing T-18 or better in each of his first four starts including a tie for 16th in San Diego where he shot par or better in each of his three rounds on the brutal South Course. He's only made two starts in Phoenix but both resulted in top-25 finishes, including a T-15 showing in 2012.

3. Bubba Watson: Watson cracked the top 25 at Torrey Pines with a 3-under 69 Sunday, and he certainly has the length to bomb it around TPC Scottsdale. The former Masters champ has finished inside the top 15 each of the last two years at this event, including a T-5 in 2012. 

4. Graham DeLaet: The Canadian had yet another close call at Torrey Pines, as the question of his maiden PGA Tour title appears to be when, not if. DeLaet led the Tour last season in ball-striking and appears to have picked up right where he left off, now riding a string of three straight top-10 finishes.

5. Gary Woodland: A runner-up in Malaysia, Woodland appeared in line for victory last week before his accuracy left him on Sunday. He remains on the upswing overall, though, and now heads to an event where his length will prove to be an asset and where he has finished T-26 or better each of the last three years.

6. Hunter Mahan: A winner here in 2010, Mahan tied for 16th last year and hasn't carded a round over 70 at TPC Scottsdale since 2009. Knocked some rust off with a T-47 last week in his season debut at Torrey Pines and should be expected to fare much better this time around. 

7. Harris English: It's early in the season, but already English finds himself fifth on Tour in birdie average and seventh in scoring average - both of which should help this week where scores will be low. A winner earlier this season in Mexico, English nearly won again in Hawaii and tied for 15th in his Phoenix debut in 2012. 

8. Phil Mickelson: Mickelson's potential this week depends entirely on his aching back. If he's healthy, he's a threat to repeat and hoist the trophy for the fourth time in his adopted hometown. If the injury that forced him out last week continues to linger, he could struggle to even get his title defense off the ground.

9. Scott Piercy: Piercy is a resident of nearby Las Vegas and has won in Reno, so golf in this area of the country seems to suit him. His third-place finish last year was the third top-10 in his last four Phoenix starts, and the friendly confines of TPC Scottsdale should help him rebound from back-to-back missed cuts.

10. Marc Leishman: Opened the new year with a fifth-place showing at Sony and followed that up with a share of second at Torrey Pines. The Aussie had a banner year in 2013 that yielded a Presidents Cup berth and appears eager for more in 2014. Tied for 19th here in 2012.

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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