After MC, Phil sets sights on Presidents Cup

By Will GrayAugust 11, 2017, 6:50 pm

Updated 5:05 p.m

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A return to a place where he’s had considerable success turned into a week to forget for Phil Mickelson.

Mickelson played his first 30 holes of the PGA Championship without making a single birdie, and after rounds of 79-74 will miss the cut by several shots. Thursday’s opener marked the highest round of Mickelson’s PGA Championship career, and this will be the first time he sits out the weekend since missing the cut at Riviera in 1995.

Mickelson also missed the cut last month at The Open, and this is the second time in as many years that he has missed back-to-back cuts in majors.

“These last couple tournaments, the British and here, have been atrocious,” Mickelson said.

The 47-year-old downplayed his recent struggles as the sign of a larger slump, and he also didn’t blame his change in caddie after he and Jim “Bones” Mackay amicably ended a 25-year partnership in June.

“I don’t know how that would really affect the shots that I’ve been hitting,” he said. “I don’t know how that would play into it.”

PGA Championship: Scores | Live blog: Day 2 | Full coverage

Mickelson stood little chance of making the cut after his disastrous opener at Quail Hollow Club, but his struggles continued with bogeys on three of his first seven holes to start the second round. According to Lefty, the root of the issue lies with his mental focus, not his physical execution.

“It’s not like I’m hitting the ball crooked, I’m just hitting it in the wrong spots, and I’m just not really controlling my thought process, where I want the ball to go,” he said. “I’m not real focused out there, and I’m having a tough time visualizing the shot. I’m having a tough time controlling my thoughts and not letting it wander to what I don’t want to have happen.”

Mickelson will take next week off before teeing it up in each of the first two playoff events. He entered the week 17th in the U.S. Presidents Cup standings, and after making every American team since 1993, he's looking to either earn one of 10 automatic spots on the team or receive one of Steve Stricker’s two captain’s picks.

“I would love to be on it, but the way I’m playing – I’ve got to play better,” Mickelson said. “If I can play well in those (playoff events), I have a chance to get on the team on my own. And if I play well in them and I don’t make it, I have a chance to be a pick. But I’ve got to play well in them is the thing.”

The cutoff for automatic qualifying on the U.S. side is Sept. 4. Needless to say, Mickelson's streak of 22 consecutive team competitions is in jeopardy.

“He told me he wants to be on this team more than anything,” Stricker said Friday. “I would love to see him on the team. But just like anybody else, I’ve got to see who is playing well at the time. I know he’s struggling a little bit right now, but I told him I would like to see him play well from here on out to show me something basically. That doesn’t sound right coming from a guy like me talking to Phil. But that’s basically what I said. Show me that you are playing good at the end of the year, because I would love to have him on the team.”

Making the subplot even juicier is that Stricker said he would consult with his assistant captains before any roster decision. One of his assistants is Mickelson’s longtime rival, Tiger Woods.

“We need the best guys playing the best at the end of the year going forward,” Stricker said. “That’s what we’re going to be looking at. It’s going to be a team decision with all the assistant captains.”

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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