After Further Review: Walker's gamble pays off

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 1, 2016, 2:29 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds. 

On Jimmy Walker's decision to go for the par-5 18th in two ...

Jimmy Walker’s club selection and approach shot on the 72nd hole certainly drew some murmurs and gasps from the crowds lining the fairway at Baltusrol, but it was without question the right play.

Walker was 287 yards from the par-5 green after taking iron off the tee to the lake guarding the left side, but he decided to wail on a 3-wood in the hopes of getting it up near the putting surface. He was keenly aware of the situation, knew he needed par to win his first major and reasoned that 19 times out of 20 he could card the score required to lift the trophy by going for the green.

While that math doesn’t always pan out – just ask Rory McIlroy, who was about 100 yards closer on Friday and still managed to make a bogey to miss the cut – it was the right call for Walker, an aggressive player whose confidence played a big role in getting him into a position to win.

Sometimes we’ll watch players adjust strategy to the situation, and often it can be a byproduct of simply overthinking it. Walker was swinging well, and he trusted that his normal process would carry him through a very unique situation. That decision paid off, and now he has the hardware to prove it. – Will Gray

On what separates the PGA from the other majors ...

For a tournament that sometimes appears to be searching for an identity among the game’s real “Big Four,” that would be the Grand Slam foursome, there has emerged a collection of personality traits for the PGA Championship.

The Masters is the major everyone awaits, the U.S. Open the toughest test, The Open is always a match against Mother Nature and, as this week proved, the PGA is major championship golf’s fairest test.

With this week’s unforgiving forecast things could have easily gone wrong, with players and officials scrambling to complete the event on schedule, but once again the PGA and Baltusrol identified the week’s best player. – Rex Hoggard

On the PGA finishing as scheduled ...

"They toed the line and got away with it, but it could've looked really bad for them. They played with fire and they won."

That was Billy Horschel on the decision by the PGA of America to have players competing on a rain-soaked Baltusrol golf course in the second round, but it encapsulates the whole weekend considering how close this tournament came to a Monday or possibly Tuesday finish.

Thanks to some luck with the Sunday weather, an unbelievable grounds crew who worked through the night and an exciting finish put on by Jimmy Walker and Jason Day, the history books won't remember the potential disaster, but maybe it will stick with the PGA of America the next time they decide to tempt fate.

If the R&A can move up tee times and go off split tees to avoid afternoon storms at The Open, so can the PGA.

The golf gods called in a favor to Mother Nature on Sunday, but we all know how fickle the golf gods can be. Maybe next time the PGA will leave them out of it. – Jason Crook

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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