Eight teams ready to battle at International Crown

By Randall MellJuly 22, 2014, 1:18 pm

The normally stoic Inbee Park buries a putt to win a crucial point in the International Crown and throws a fist pump with fire in her eyes.

If you don’t think that’s possible this week, you don’t know how much the South Koreans are looking forward to the new team event.

Na Yeon Choi can see the International Crown drawing out nationalistic fervor in the women’s game that we usually only see at the Solheim Cup.

The LPGA’s new international team event begins Thursday with pride and passion promising to percolate among players eager to win for their countries at Caves Valley Golf Club outside Baltimore, Md.

“Our playing style is quite quiet, not really big reactions, or fist pumps,” Choi said. “But I think we’re really excited about the golf tournament, so I expect we’re going to let a few out, and more aggressive playing.”

The International Crown is the Solheim Cup times four. It’s eight countries battling to lay claim as the world’s best golfing nation in the women’s game.

“This is our version of the Presidents Cup,” said American Stacy Lewis, the Rolex world No. 1. “I think we needed to get the rest of the world involved, but you can’t change the Solheim Cup. It has too many traditions.

“I like this concept. I like how it brings all the countries together.”

The United States beat out the South Koreans in qualifying for the No. 1 seed in the event, which will feature four-player teams in best-ball and singles competition over four days. Japan, Thailand, Spain, Sweden, Australia and Chinese Taipei also qualified. The top four players in the Rolex world rankings from each qualifying nation made the teams, with the rosters announced back in April. There are no team captains, which leaves players to work out their own lineups.

“I’m always jealous watching the Solheim Cup,” Australian Lindsey Wright said. “I wish it was me. It looks like so much fun.”

Ten years in the works at the LPGA, with multiple versions of the event evolving, the International Crown takes advantage of one of the tour’s strengths, a truly global membership.

Two years ahead of golf’s return to the Olympics, the International Crown heightens women’s anticipation of Olympic competition.

“You’ll get a sense of it when you put on the uniforms,” Spain’s Beatriz Recari said. “You don’t know how much it means until you put on that polo shirt with the flag on it and really see. This is an amazing thing, and I really want to be a part of it in the Olympics in two years’ time.”

The International Crown’s eight teams have been divided into two pools, with round-robin pool play determining who advances to Sunday’s finale.

Get ready: LPGA International Crown primer

In Pool A, there’s the United States, Thailand, Spain and Chinese Taipei. In Pool B, there’s the Republic of Korea, Japan, Sweden and Australia. Each country will compete against the other countries within its pool in two-player, best-ball matches. Each victory is worth two points, with a tie worth one point.

At the end of pool play, the top two teams from each pool advance to Sunday. Also, a fifth team will advance after a sudden-death playoff on Saturday evening between the third-best team from each pool.

Ultimately, that means five teams (20 players) will advance to Sunday singles. That sets up 10 singles matches, with each player from a particular country pitted against a player from another country.

For example, if the United States advances, Stacy Lewis could end up playing against a player from South Korea, Lexi Thompson against a player from Japan, Cristie Kerr against a player from Thailand and Paula Creamer against a player Spain.

In the end, the team with the most points over four days wins the International Crown.

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

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm
Getty Images

Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

Well, this is a one new one.

According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.

PGA Tour suspends Hensby for anti-doping violation

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 8:02 pm

Mark Hensby has been suspended for one year by the PGA Tour for violating the Tour’s anti-doping policy by failing to provide a sample after notification.

The Tour made the announcement Monday, reporting that Hensby will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

The statement reads:

The PGA Tour announced today that Mark Hensby has violated the Tour Anti-Doping Policy for failing to provide a drug testing sample after notification and has been suspended for a period of one year. He will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

Hensby, 46, won the John Deere Classic in 2004. He played the Web.com Tour this past year, playing just 14 events. He finished 142nd on the money list. He once ranked among the top 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking but ranks No. 1,623 today.

The Sunshine Tour recently suspended player Etienne Bond for one year for failing a drug test. Players previously suspended by the PGA Tour for violating the anti-doping policy include Scott Stallings and Doug Barron.

The PGA Tour implemented revisions to its anti-doping program with the start of the 2017-18 season. The revisions include blood testing and the supplementation of the Tour’s prohibited list to include all of the substances and methods on the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited list. As part of this season’s revisions, the Tour announced it would also begin reporting suspensions due to recreational drug use.

The Tour said it would not issue further comment on Hensby's suspension.