After Further Review: Tiger's schedule makes things even tougher

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. In this edition of After Further Review, our writers weigh in on Tiger's schedule, Jason Day's run at No. 1, the race for the top spot in the LPGA and Patrick Rodgers' maiden victory.

On the heels of his latest withdrawal, opinions on Tiger Woods’ long-term prospects have ranged from “still capable of passing Jack Nicklaus’ major record” to “never going to factor in another one again.”

What’s less debatable are his short-term opportunities.

Unless Tiger makes a shocking about-face, he won’t tee it up in next week’s Northern Trust Open. (He’s already out for this week’s Pebble Beach Pro-Am.) Even if he’s healthy enough to return, his likely schedule would include just the Honda Classic and Arnold Palmer Invitational prior to the Masters. He hasn’t qualified for the WGC-Cadillac Championship and none of the other pre-Augusta events – Puerto Rico Open, Valspar Championship, Valero Texas Open and Shell Houston Open – have ever previously found their way onto his schedule.

For years, Tiger has maintained that he’d rather dig secrets out of the dirt than compete prior to the biggest tournaments. If we’ve learned anything lately, though, it’s that the strategy has some serious faults.

It’s difficult to envision him coming anywhere close to contending at the Masters based on recent developments. But it’s even more difficult to see it happening if he only plays twice more between now and then.  – Jason Sobel

Jason Day admits that when he won last year’s WGC-Match Play Championship his career goal was suddenly in sight.

“I felt like I was going to get to No. 1 [in the World Golf Ranking],” he said on Sunday at Torrey Pines.

A thumb injury, combined with a brilliant run by now-No. 1 Rory McIlroy, denied the Australian his spot atop the world. But Sunday’s victory at the Farmers Insurance Open will catapult Day to fourth in the world on Monday and back into contention for the top spot.

He may not be able to unseat McIlroy atop the ranking, but it certainly will be fun to watch him try.  – Rex Hoggard

This battle for the Rolex No. 1 world ranking is looking like it’s going to be a tantalizing weekly subplot in the women’s game.

Inbee Park appeared poised to take back top billing from Lydia Ko this weekend, only to see Ko charge while Park treaded water on the back nine Sunday at the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic.

Ko began the week three hundredths of a point ahead of Park in their weekly averages. Ko looks like she will move a little more than two tenths of a point ahead of Park in Monday’s newest rankings.

With Stacy Lewis not all that far behind, the No. 1 ranking is a prize that might grow maddening for this trio. The shadow of No. 1, with all its projections and its decimal-point math and all the media questions that come with them, might seem inescapable.

It’s nice spice for the rest of us, though. It’s bonus competition for our Sunday viewing.  – Randall Mell

While much of the focus this weekend was on the California coast, one of the game’s rising stars notched his maiden victory some 3,000 miles away.

Patrick Rodgers was the top player in college golf last year, and his 11 wins at Stanford tied a school record previously held by Tiger Woods. An ill-timed injury hampered his run through the Tour Finals last year, but Rodgers bounced back to capture the second event of 2015 in a playoff over Steve Marino at the Pacific Rubiales Colombia Championship.

The win paves the way for the 22-year-old to get his PGA Tour card for the 2015-16 season, when he’ll certainly be a player to watch.  – 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