Punch Shot: Biggest storyline in 2016

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 5, 2016, 4:50 pm

Major championships. The Ryder Cup. The Olympics. A Jordan Spieth encore. 2016 is shaping up to be a huge year. What will be the biggest storyline? Our writers weigh in.


The Olympics.

It’s going to be fascinating to see how the summer unfolds, because in 2016 the biggest tour in the world will resemble the Champions circuit, with three majors and a WGC in a seven-week span.

There are so many unknowns: How will the new course hold up? Will players be interested? Will any A-list players skip? How will the joy of winning a gold medal compare to hoisting a major trophy? Because of the crowded schedule, will other events suffer? Will a player get hot and rip through the summer, sweeping all of the big events? Will the best players have anything left for the playoffs and Ryder Cup?

No other event in 2016 will produce so much intrigue.


The Olympics won’t trump the majors or the Ryder Cup.

There won’t be another run at the Grand Slam.

Tiger won’t win and he won’t retire, but we’ll have an even better sense what his future holds.

No, the big story will be Rory McIlroy reasserting himself as the best player in the game today, the best all-around talent. He’ll make history completing the career Grand Slam in golf, joining Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the only players to have accomplished the feat. He’ll win more than anyone else next year, more than Spieth or Day, and he’ll climb back to No. 1 in the world.


The narrative will change from week to week, as is normally the case as the PGA Tour makes it way through the major championship season, and golf’s return to the Olympics in August will generate plenty of headlines, but it will be the Ryder Cup that will dominate the conversation in 2016.

The biennial matches have become one of the biggest spectacles in all of sports and that intensity will be even higher as the season builds toward this year’s event.

Following the U.S. team’s eighth loss in the last 10 matches in 2014, the PGA of America embarked on an extreme makeover with the creation of the Ryder Cup task force.

Players became part of the decision making, the selection process was overhauled, Davis Love III was named captain for the second time, and Tiger Woods committed his support to the event even if that means serving as a vice captain.

The American side has been infused with a level of optimism that has been missing since the last time the U.S. won the Ryder Cup in 2008, and it seems likely Love’s team will include plenty of new faces.

A win by the U.S. team at Hazeltine National would be the year’s biggest story, and a loss might be even bigger.


Spieth’s encore.

Regardless of the direction Jordan Spieth’s season takes, all eyes will be on the world No. 1 as he attempts to follow up a season that seemingly can’t be topped.

Spieth’s play over the last two years has set the bar impossibly high for him heading into 2016. So should he regress a bit to the mean, should he falter in some big spots, or should he fail to keep up his regular rate of trophy acquisition, it will become just as big of a story as the names ahead of his on the leaderboard.

Should he somehow find a way to raise his game – or even just keep up with his 2015 pace – Spieth will be the biggest storyline of the year without question.

We enter the new year with a three-headed monster atop the world rankings, but no one captivated the landscape this past year quite like Spieth. So the question leading through the spring, and into the Masters, and into the U.S. Open and perhaps beyond will be ... what’s next?

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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
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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.