Stat attack!: RBC Canadian Open review

By John AntoniniJuly 27, 2014, 10:00 pm

Somehow it’s fitting that the man who knocked Jim Furyk off the top of the leaderboard at the RBC Canadian Open is a player who is best-known for finishing second on the PGA Tour. Tim Clark, who has been runner-up in at least one PGA Tour event every year since 2005 with just one win in that span, finally won his second Tour title at Royal Montreal, edging Furyk by one stroke at 17 under par. Clark caught Furyk on the back-nine Sunday, making five birdies on the closing side to Furyk’s one. Clark needed just 10 putts on the back, missing only a 44-footer on the last hole. Clark didn’t have any gimmes. Every putt he made on the back was from more than five feet. He gained more than four strokes on the field with his putting on the back nine and for the week was second in strokes gained/putting.

Tim Clark’s back nine at the RBC Canadian Open

 Hole 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 Total
 Par 4 4 5 3 4 4 4 3 4 35
 Score 4 3 4 3 3 3 4 2 4 30
 Fairway hit Y N Y   Y Y Y   Y 6 of 7
 Green hit N Y Y N Y Y N Y Y 6 of 9
 No. of Putts 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 10

Leaders in strokes gained/putting at the RBC Canadian Open

 Player Str. gained./putting Last nine holes Finish
 Kevin Kisner 9.596 2.936 T-9
 Tim Clark 6.469 4.201 Won
 Nathan Green 6.379 0.247 T-53
 Tim Herron 5.745 0.772 T-34
 Ben Curtis 4.926 0.406 T-12

In contrast, Furyk was just 24th in the field in strokes gained at 2.535 and lost 1.355 strokes to the field on the last nine holes of the week.

In addition to his stellar putting, Clark led the field in driving accuracy, hitting 47 fairways and was fourth in approach shot distance to the pin. His 83.93 driving accuracy percentage helped him move to third on tour in that stat for the season, trailing just Joe Durant and David Toms. Clark and Zach Johnson are the only players in the top 10 on tour in fairways hit who also have a victory this season.

PGA Tour leaders in driving accuracy in 2013-14

 Player Accuracy pct. Top 10s Best finish
 Joe Durant  75.92 T-11 Greenbrier 
 David Toms  74.97  T-4 Puerto Rico 
 Tim Clark  74.43  Won Canadian Open 
 Justin Hicks  73.56  Third Canadian Open 
 Heath Slocum  72.25  T-16 McGladrey Classic
 Zach Johnson 71.49  Won Hyundai T of C 
 Paul Goydos  71.01  T-61 Sony Open 
 Jim Furyk  70.47  Second, three times
 Ken Duke 70.43 T-15 Las Vegas
 Billy Hurley III  70.34  4 T-4 Greenbrier

It was the second straight outstanding performance for Clark, who has missed seven of 10 cuts entering the John Deere Classic. But he found himself in the middle rounds at Deere Run, with scores of 63-64 to finish T-5 at 18-under par. With his 17-under finish at Royal Montreal (that included a 64-65 weekend), Clark is 35-under par on his last eight PGA Tour rounds. He’s not along in his hot performances. Among the top-10 finishers in Canada, seven of them were at least 10 under par in their previous PGA Tour start 

Top-10 finishers at the Canadian Open, and their previous PGA Tour start

 Finish Player Canadian Open Previous tournament
 1 Tim Clark 17 under 18 under (JDC)
 2 Jim Furyk 16 under 13 under (British)
 3 Justin Hicks 13 under 10 under (JDC)
 T-4 G. Fdez-Castano 11 under 6 over (British)
 T-4 Matt Kuchar 11 under 2 over (British)
 T-4 Michael Putnam 11 under 4 under (Greenbrier)
 T-7 Graham Delaet 10 under 3 over (British)
 T-7 Dicky Pride 10 under 10 under (JDC)
 T-9 Kevin Kisner 9 under 12 under (JDC)
 T-9 Brad Fritsch 9 under 14 under (JDC)
 T-9 Graeme McDowell 9 under 10 under (British)

For Furyk, it marks the seventh straight time he has failed to hold a 54-hole lead, and is the third time this season he has finished second. He has 28 runner-up finishes in his career, fourth among active full-time PGA Tour players behind Davis Love III, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. Furyk’s last PGA Tour victory came at the 2010 Tour Championship. In the last four seasons he has made 87 starts and has earned more than $12 million. He has finished second six times, with 26 top 10s. He just hasn’t been able to close.

Jim Furyk's last seven starts with the 54-hole lead

 Tournament 54-hole lead Finish
 2014 RBC Canadian Open 3 Second (one back of Tim Clark)
 2013 BMW Championship 1 Third  (three back of Zach Johnson) 
 2013 PGA Championship 1 Second (two back of Jason Dufner)
 2012 McGladrey Classic Tied Third (two back of Tommy Gainey)
 2012 WGC-Bridgestone 1 T-2 (one back of Keegan Bradley)
 2012 U.S. Open Tied T-4 (two back of Webb Simpson)
 2012 Transitions Tied T-2 (lost playoff to Luke Donald)

Runner-up finishes on the PGA Tour among active full-time players

 Player Career seconds Runner-ups in 2013-14
 Davis Love III 30 0
 Tiger Woods 29 0
 Phil Mickelson 29 0
 Jim Furyk 28 3
 Vijay Singh 27 1

Furyk has more top-10 finishes in the last four years than any other player who has not won on the PGA Tour. Charles Howell is second with 20.

Most top 10s without a win: 2011-2014

 Player Top-10s
 Jim Furyk 26
 Charles Howell III 20
 Lee Westwood 18
 Bo Van Pelt 17
 Graham Delaet 17
 Ryan Palmer 16
 Charley Hoffman 15
 Robert Garrigus 15

Furyk’s next chance for redemption comes at this week’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, where, I’m afraid to note, he has finished second two times.

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
Getty Images

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.

PGA Tour suspends Hensby for anti-doping violation

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 8:02 pm

Mark Hensby has been suspended for one year by the PGA Tour for violating the Tour’s anti-doping policy by failing to provide a sample after notification.

The Tour made the announcement Monday, reporting that Hensby will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

The statement reads:

The PGA Tour announced today that Mark Hensby has violated the Tour Anti-Doping Policy for failing to provide a drug testing sample after notification and has been suspended for a period of one year. He will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

Hensby, 46, won the John Deere Classic in 2004. He played the Tour this past year, playing just 14 events. He finished 142nd on the money list. He once ranked among the top 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking but ranks No. 1,623 today.

The Sunshine Tour recently suspended player Etienne Bond for one year for failing a drug test. Players previously suspended by the PGA Tour for violating the anti-doping policy include Scott Stallings and Doug Barron.

The PGA Tour implemented revisions to its anti-doping program with the start of the 2017-18 season. The revisions include blood testing and the supplementation of the Tour’s prohibited list to include all of the substances and methods on the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited list. As part of this season’s revisions, the Tour announced it would also begin reporting suspensions due to recreational drug use.

The Tour said it would not issue further comment on Hensby's suspension.