'Gimmegate' rivals Lee, Pettersen grouped at Coates

By Randall MellFebruary 2, 2016, 7:46 pm

OCALA, Fla. – Alison Lee will be paired with Suzann Pettersen for the first time since they were at the heart of the controversy at the Solheim Cup last fall.

Lee is scheduled to play the first two rounds of the Coates Golf Championship Wednesday and Thursday with Pettersen and Stacy Lewis at Golden Ocala.

Lee is getting her share of “phantom concession” reunion pairings to start the new season. Lee was grouped with Charley Hull in the first two rounds of the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic last week. Hull was also part of the Solheim Cup controversy that ensued after the American Lee scooped up a putt in a fourballs match thinking the Europeans conceded the putt. With Pettersen holding Lee to the letter of the Rules of Golf, despite confusion that may have led to Lee mistakenly believe that the putt was conceded, a furor over sportsmanship followed.

“I think it’s good for Alison, because they’re probably going to play each other at Solheim,” Lewis said. “They’re probably going to play together on tour, maybe even in a final round. Why not just get it out of the way and get it over with? I think they’re both ready to move on. It’s just every time they’re paired together it’s going to be brought up.”

The LPGA said the pairings were randomly generated by its pairings program.

“That computer, it’s amazing how it spits things out,” cracked Juli Inkster, the American Solheim Cup captain. “It’s incredible. It’s impressive.”

Lee told GolfChannel.com at the CME Group Tour Championship at year’s end that she spoke with Pettersen about their Solheim Cup differences in Malaysia, three weeks after the Solheim Cup. It was their first conversation since the controversy first erupted.

“Our talk was really personal,” Lee said. “I don’t want to share what went on.”

Below are four groups to watch in the first two rounds of the Coates Golf Championship:

Suzann Pettersen, Alison Lee, Stacy Lewis: 12:25 p.m., Wednesday; 8:10 a.m., Thursday

A Solheim Cup reunion. This isn’t Pettersen’s first time on American soil since the Solheim Cup. She played the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples last November.

Lydia Ko, Paula Creamer, Morgan Pressel: 12:15 p.m. Wednesday; 8 a.m., Thursday.

Lydia Ko is making her 2016 debut. She finished second at the Coates Golf Championship last year but got a great consolation prize. She moved up to Rolex No. 1 for the first time after the event, becoming the youngest No. 1 in the history of men’s or women’s golf.  Creamer is coming off a T-5 at the Pure Silk Bahamas last week. Pressel is looking to follow up a resurgent 2015 season with another good year.

Lexi Thompson, Brooke Henderson, Anna Nordqvist: 12:35 p.m., Wednesday; 8:20 a.m., Friday

Dynamic pairing of young, big hitters in Thompson, who turns 21 on Feb. 10, and Henderson, 18. They are birdie machines who should be fun to watch. Nordqvist is not a big hitter, but she’s underrated as a five-time tour champion, a formidable ball striker.

Michelle Wie, Annie Park and Megan Khang: 12:55 p.m., Wednesday; 8:40 a.m., Thursday.

Khang, the 18-year-old American who won a lot of fans making a run at winning the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic in her rookie debut last week, gets a dream pairing with Michelle Wie, who will be looking to shake off last week’s sluggish start with a missed cut in the Bahamas. Park won the NCAA individual championship at USC two years ago and tore up the Symetra Tour with three victories after joining that tour late.

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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