Positives and negatives of moving the PGA

By Rex HoggardAugust 7, 2017, 10:40 pm

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Will he? Won’t he?

Of the 156 players assembled for this week’s PGA Championship, only one was moving the needle on Monday, and rightfully so.

Jordan Spieth has a chance this week to join the game’s most exclusive club and complete the career Grand Slam, an opportunity made that much more compelling because he staked his claim to the third leg just two weeks ago at Royal Birkdale.

Compelling stuff, right?

Now consider Monday’s news. According to the Associated Press, the PGA of America is poised to announce the long-anticipated move of the PGA Championship from August to May in 2019, a key part of a larger re-structuring of the PGA Tour schedule that will include The Players moving back to March and the playoffs ending around Labor Day to avoid going head-to-head with college and professional football.

A few weeks back, your scribe asked a PGA official if the list of positives outweighed the negatives of moving the association’s flagship event from the anchor position on the Grand Slam docket to the No. 2 slot on the dance card.

The answer was a resounding yes, and Monday’s report would seem to have proven that.

The biggest concern for PGA officials is the championship’s position every four years when golf’s return to the Olympics would force the event to adjust. Golf’s return to the Games may have been universally applauded and supported, but it’s the PGA that had to make the pieces fit together last year when the event moved to July.

That was unacceptable.

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Although moving to May will likely mean the PGA will have to focus more on southern venues – given how severe a winter the northeast endures in ’19, a May PGA played at Bethpage Black in New York could be interesting – and the championship could get lost in what promises to be a busy time of year between the Masters and U.S. Open.

The trade off, however, would be new venues, like this week’s stop at Quail Hollow, and a much more compelling flow to the season. But on the big board of pros and cons there is one element that can’t be so easily rationalized.

By moving to May, the PGA is foregoing an identity that stretches back 70 years. Although they don’t call it “Glory’s Last Shot” any longer, there is a cachet to being the year’s final major.

Win this week or wait some seven months for your next Grand Slam shot. It may not be the most nostalgic or logical hook, but it was the PGA’s.

And what of Spieth’s Grand Slam opportunity this week?

Sure, if the PGA was scheduled for next May the world would still fixate on the Golden Child’s golden quest, but it wouldn’t have the same zeal as it does this week, just a fortnight removed from his Open triumph and still riding high on emotion.

Spieth’s story is so compelling this week because the golf world is caught up in the moment, but with the new schedule all of that momentum would be lost to time and indifference as we waited for the PGA.

There are plenty of reasons to celebrate the reported slide to May and by all accounts this move, which has been four years in the making according to the AP report, has been well vetted.

But the old cliché comes to mind – you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. It’s interesting that part of this larger makeover is moving The Players back to March, where it was traditionally played before moving to May in 2007.

The argument for that move was better course conditions at TPC Sawgrass, but that never really materialized, which at least partially explains the Tour’s desire to move back to March.

It’s called unintended consequences, a missed detail that may end up costing the PGA Championship a piece of its identity.

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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