Azinger said 'not yet' to joining Ryder Cup task force

By Ryan LavnerOctober 15, 2014, 1:27 pm

When the PGA of America announced the formation of the 11-man Ryder Cup task force, one name was notably absent: Paul Azinger, the only victorious U.S. captain since 1999.

Instead, the organization tabbed a combination of current players (Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk and Rickie Fowler), former captains (Davis Love III, Raymond Floyd and Tom Lehman) and PGA officials (Derek Sprague, Pete Bevacqua and Paul Levy). 

Azinger said Wednesday that he declined an invitation to immediately join the task force, but also left open the possibility that he could be a part of the process in the future.

“I didn’t say no,” he said on Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive”, “I said not yet. I think everything is going too fast. It’s just too soon to make that kind of decision when emotions are involved.”

Azinger said that he hasn’t yet met Sprague, the incoming PGA president, and has only spoken on the phone with Bevacqua, the PGA’s CEO. The 2008 captain said that he was hesitant to initially be part of a task force when he didn’t know the structure of the group. 

“I just didn’t want to jump on a task force right away,” he said. “Let’s just slow down a Mach.”

Video: Azinger discusses Ryder Cup task force on 'Morning Drive'

Azinger, however, said that he is scheduled to meet with PGA of America officials in early November and hopes that he’ll be able to provide a “bridge” between the organization and the players. Unlike in Europe, in which the 12-man roster competes for the European Tour, Azinger said there is a “disconnect” between the PGA and the modern pro – one of the many criticisms in the wake of Tom Watson’s recent captaincy.

Surprisingly, Azinger also said that he hasn’t been consulted by the PGA following his team’s victory in 2008. 

“Not really, no,” he said. “No, they haven’t. That’s part of the problem, I feel, is that we have guys coming in individually every couple of years and the players who are repeat players have to adjust to a new guy’s leadership style.”

That’s not the case in Europe. Paul McGinley, for example, apprenticed under Jose Maria Olazabal in 2012 at Medinah before accepting the captain’s gig two years later. Olazabal, in turn, was an assistant under McGinley. Many believe that continuity is a significant reason why Europe has won six of the past seven Ryder Cups, and eight of the last 10.

“I love the idea of the task force addressing these problems,” Azinger said. “I think it’s a great way for players to have an actual voice. … I haven’t said no to the task force. I just said not yet.” 

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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