Stenson leads Mickelson by one at Royal Troon

By Nick MentaJuly 16, 2016, 5:53 pm

Henrik Stenson will take a one-shot lead over Phil Mickelson into the final round of the 145th Open in what is shaping up to be a two-man show on Sunday. Here's where things stand through 54 holes at Royal Troon.

Leaderboard: Stenson (-12), Mickelson (-11), Bill Haas (-6), Andrew Johnston (-5), J.B. Holmes (-4)

What it means: Stenson is one up on Mickelson, who himself is five shots clear of the rest of the field, setting up the potential for some de facto match play. Stenson (68) and Mickelson (70) swapped the lead back and forth Saturday before the Swede took it for good via a birdie-bogey two-shot swing at the par-3 17th. This is Stenson's first 54-hole lead in a major championship. The sixth-ranked player in the world broke an 18-month worldwide winless drought just three weeks ago at the BMW International and is now looking to claim his first major title at age 40. Mickelson, meanwhile, hasn't won since he conquered the Open at Muirfield in 2013. At 46, he'd be the second-oldest champion in Open history, behind Old Tom Morris (1867), who's got him by just two months. Behind those two sits Haas, a six-time PGA Tour winner who's never finished in the top 10 in a major, and Johnston, who burst on the scene with a victory at the Open de Espana and became a sensation thanks in equal parts to his nickname ("Beef") and his victory sentiments ("I can’t wait to get hammered.")

Round of the day: Stenson, Steve Stricker, Brandt Snedeker and Haydn Porteous all managed rounds of 3-under 68. Stenson made five birdies, including three in his first four holes, around a pair of bogeys at Nos. 6 and 8. Separately, Stricker, the 49-year-old part-timer, now finds himself in a tie for sixth at 3 under for the week. Stricker on Friday posted 4-over 75 after a round of 17 bogeys and a quad. If not for the quad, he’d be solo second heading into Sunday.

Best of the rest: Haas, Holmes and Thongchai Jaidee reached the clubhouse in 2-under 69. Haas and Holmes are both in the top 5 through 54 holes.

Biggest disappointment: This goes to either Rory McIlroy or Rory McIlroy’s 3-wood. The 2014 Champion Golfer of the Year will enter the final round 12 back after a round of 2-over 73, highlighted by this incident at the par-5 16th:

Shots of the day: Three in a row, and they’re all from Mickelson on 12. After nearly finding the gorse off the tee, Lefty somehow made par with these remarkable plays:

Quote of the day:  “Most of the questions I get are comparing to last year and, therefore, negative because it’s not to the same standard. …So I think that’s a bit unfair to me, but don’t feel sorry for me. I’ll still be OK. But I would appreciate if people would look at the positives over comparing to maybe hopefully what would happen to me a few times in my career, a year like last year.” – Jordan Spieth (72), who has not broken par in his last 10 rounds at a major.

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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