Stock Watch: Ariya hits major high; Rory's major woes continue

By Ryan LavnerAugust 2, 2016, 2:11 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

RISING

Jimmy Walker (+8%): Strutting around Baltusrol like a cowboy, he made just one bogey over his last 28 holes and barely resembled the guy who didn’t have a top-10 since March. Stiff-arming the world No. 1 down the stretch will give him loads of confidence going forward.

Ariya Jutanugarn (+6%): If you’re still not convinced that she will eventually overtake Lydia Ko as the No. 1 women’s player, consider that the 20-year-old should have five wins and two majors this season, after squandering the ANA Inspiration in early April. She is an absolute force.

Butch Harmon and Pete Cowen (+5): Together, the swing-coaches-to-the-stars have now completed the single-season Grand Slam, with two majors apiece. Why are they so good? Because they work just as much on their students’ heads as their swings.

Brooks Koepka (+4%): Nearly in tears before the tournament began, Koepka gutted out a fourth-place finish at the PGA, despite a heavily wrapped ankle that felt numb by Sunday night. With his Ryder Cup spot virtually secure, he’d be wise to take some time off before another important stretch of golf.

Stephan Jaeger (+2%): Doesn’t matter if you’re playing the Web.com Tour or the Pitch-and-Putt Championship – shooting 58 and 30 under par is eye-opening stuff.


FALLING

DJ (-1%): He was gassed by the time the PGA arrived, after playing seven tournaments in nine weeks. A bummer, too, because the year’s final major represented a prime opportunity to nail down Player of the Year honors. Now, a showdown with Jason Day looms.

P-Reed (-2%): The wait continues for his breakthrough, after another weekend retreat at a major. A dozen chances, lots of good play … and zero top-10s to show for it.  

U.S. Ryder Cup captain’s picks (-4%): Jim Furyk, the losingest player in U.S history, was mentioned seven times in the captain’s news conference … assistant Tiger Woods reportedly has already sent in his four names, even though there is still seven weeks to go … and Davis Love III said that one of the criteria for his picks is which wives will get along. Seriously.

PGA’s July date (-6%): If men’s golf is still in the Olympic rotation in 2020, the PGA must find another date for its major. Fatigued players. Weather issues. No buzz. Everyone looking ahead to the Games, playoffs and Ryder Cup. The least prestigious major sure felt like it at Baltusrol.

Rory’s putting (-7%): His woeful performance was the latest indication that he needs a putting coach or an exorcism. Perhaps both. Until he solves his issues on the greens, McIlroy’s chances of challenging Day for the No. 1 spot are slim.

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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