Quit Not in Players Vocabulary

By George WhiteAugust 25, 2004, 4:00 pm
On Nov. 1, he will be 70 years old. He stopped aging at 60 ' his looks and general fitness take on the appearance of a man at least 10 years younger. Hes a professional golfer ' has been for 50 years. And hes equaled or broken his age six times already this year ' on courses set up for men 20 years younger.
 
Hes Gary Player. And at nearly 70, hes still hitting drivers a shade under 250 yards.
 
Player stood on the edge of the driving range at the Champions Tours Hickory Classic last week and laced a succession of fairway woods on a straight line over bunkers 220 yards distant. His swing was flat, Hogan-esque, and repeated itself time after time. His 155-pound frame moved easily into the ball, almost without effort.
 
How far would he have hit drives in his prime in say, 1965, if he had the same equipment as he does today? If I average 250 today, I would have averaged 285 back then, said Player.
 
Its the head, the shaft, the ball and the agronomy. They are all so much better. No, I would probably have hit it 50 yards further in my heyday. Larry Nelson says (he) hits the ball 50 yards further, and many guys hit it 50, 60 yards further.
 
But advancing age has robbed him of strength, and all the workouts and exercise in the world wont give that back. Hes lost the equivalent of about three clubs distance off what he had in the 60s ' if he were using similar, high-tech equipment then and now. But he still has a goal ' and he thinks it is an achievable goal.
 
I love playing golf, he says. I'm trying to be the first person in America to ever win in six decades. Im still athletic enough to win. I haven't been playing particularly well this year, but golf changes in a matter of seconds, minutes. You can find something, and I'm still a very good putter and I can still play reasonably well. I've got an outside chance to do it.
 
Player concedes it is a 1-in-100 chance, maybe 1-in-a-1000, but its still a chance. His best finish this year was a tie for 24th in the Outback Steakhouse tournament in Tampa. He finished at 4-under par. To win, he probably needs to finish at least 10-under.
 
His last victory on the Champions Tour came six years ago, at the rather advanced age of 63. He has steadily been chalking them up, though, on the Georgia-Pacific Grand Champions ' a category of the Champions Tour reserved for players aged 60 and over. He already has 11 of those, the last coming a couple of years ago in 2002.
 
He does it, he says, because its what he was raised to do. And nothing has prepared him to experience people like the travels of a professional golfer.
 
I'm not only going to continue events like this, I'm going to continue the tour, Player says. I love people, and I love travel. I find it - well, it's without a question the best education that one can obtain, better than any college degree or university. I enjoy traveling and I'm designing a lot of golf courses, over 200 golf courses around the world, visiting a lot to mainland China, Poland, Bulgaria, a lot of countries that I never went to to learn their traditions. In Qatar, in the Middle East, you learn an awful lot, and I love it.
 
I'm very pleased I played when I did play because I mixed more than the average man in the street. I mixed in at country clubs and had dinners and I dined with the members. I had a different life, and I'm pleased I came along when I did.
 
Player won 24 times on the PGA Tour. And he has won 53 times in his world travels. But even he says that, to win again on the Champions Tour, that seems a little far-fetched.
 
The rest of the world has no idea just how tough it is to win on this Champions Tour, he said. You've got a short window to do it. You've got a maximum of eight years to do it. And when I tell people that, they think I'm a bit nuts.
 
Most people probably would agree that his sanity is a bit suspect when he mentions winning in the seventh decade of life. Player realizes it, too. But dont ever think that the idea is off the charts in his mind. Gary Player has faced more unbelievable obstacles. And, he has overcome them.
 
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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.”

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    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.


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    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.


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