After Further Review: DJ, Park return to winner's circle

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. In this edition of After Further Review, our writers weigh in on Dustin Johnson winning the WGC-Cadillac Championship just one month after returning to competitive golf, Inbee Park topping Stacy Lewis and Lydia Ko in Singapore and commissioner Tim Finchem's Ryder Cup whiff.

He spent six months away from the Tour to deal with "personal challenges," but Dustin Johnson's returned in a big way.

The 30-year-old star is now a nine-time winner, and after getting his life off the course in order he looks determined to take the next big step on the course – winning a major.

Starting the season, Rory McIlroy was the clear favorite to win at Augusta and claim the career slam. But after hot starts by DJ, Jason Day and Bubba Watson, the world No. 1 should have plenty of company when they tee it up next month in Augusta.   – Ryan Reiterman

Inbee Park can intimidate with her putter. She’s able to break a foe’s spirit with the shortest club in her bag more than anyone else in the women’s game.

Hall of Famer JoAnne Carner says Park makes more long putts than anybody she has watched since Nancy Lopez.

“I thought Nancy was a great putter, but Inbee’s even better,” Carner said back when Park won the first three majors of the year in 2013.

Notably, Park didn’t beat Lydia Ko and Stacy Lewis with her putter Sunday in Singapore as much as she did with her ball striking in their dynamic grouping at the HSBC Women’s Champions.

Park hit all 18 greens in regulation in the final round on the difficult Sentosa Golf Club’s Serapong Course. How good was that? Lewis and Ko are terrific ball strikers, but Lewis missed nine greens on Sunday, with Ko missing five. Park missed just one green in regulation the entire weekend.

It’s notable that with Park battling Ko and Lewis for the world No. 1 ranking, she has pushed herself to become a better ball striker under the watchful eye of her fiancé and coach, Gi Hyeob Nam.

Park, Ko and Lewis are all pushing each other to new heights, and that’s forcing the rest of the women’s game to keep getting better.   – Randall Mell

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem admitted Sunday that he “whiffed” on the decision not to award 2016 Ryder Cup points at a handful of events this fall, and that he “didn’t really think through” the changes that were introduced by the PGA of America at a press conference last week.

Wait, what?

Finchem’s comments showed a surprising amount of candor, but they also illustrated the communication gap that apparently exists between the Tour and the PGA of America. The two organizations, with headquarters separated by less than 300 miles, have divergent agendas but cross paths every few months at events like the PGA Championship and the Ryder Cup.

So while the decision was made by the brass in Palm Beach Gardens, it is the Tour whose properties are affected – namely the five regular-season fall events who now award no points, including the McGladrey Classic which is hosted by newly-minted captain Davis Love III. How can these decisions be made without input from Ponte Vedra, or conversely how can Finchem not anticipate a negative reaction from the impacted tournaments?

Whether he knew about the changes and simply miscalculated their reception, or if instead the PGA of America made the changes unilaterally, Finchem’s comments show that the U.S. side still has plenty of uniting to do.   – Will Gray

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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