Stock Watch: Austin rising; Match Play format falling

By Ryan LavnerMarch 29, 2016, 1:04 pm

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

RISING

J-Day (+8%): For five days in Texas, he dazzled with rocket-launcher drives and a deft touch on and around the greens while competing with supreme confidence. If he plays like that at Augusta, he’ll win in a rout.

Louis Oosthuizen (+5%): That’s five consecutive top-15s worldwide for the sweet-swinging South African, and the best news is that his ailing back feels better than it has in years. A Masters sleeper no longer.

Austin CC (+4%): It’d be a nightmare for stroke play with the steady breeze and dramatic green complexes, but the new Match Play venue was a blast, with treacherous par 3s, reachable par 4s and watery par 5s.

Lydia-Inbee rivalry (+3%): They finished 1-2 on the leaderboard for the first time this year … just in time for the LPGA’s first major.

Tony Finau (+2%): One of the Tour’s biggest home-run hitters (and nicest guys) picked up his first W at the opposite-field event in Puerto Rico. The victory doesn’t come with a Masters invite, but for whatever reason this event has helped launch the careers of Jordan Spieth and Emiliano Grillo in recent years. With his talent and athleticism, Finau should follow suit.


FALLING

Ryder Cup/Match Play correlation (-1%): Eleven Americans reached the round of 16 – the most since 2002 – but none reached the semifinals. Any cause for concern? Um, only if you believe that something that happens in March has any bearing on the fall.

Rory vs. Rickie (-2%): Alas, their head-to-head showdown in Michigan was scrapped after organizers couldn’t reach an agreement. It’d be a shame if that Day-Rory semifinal was the only time this year that a few of golf’s biggest stars duel mano-a-mano.

Social-media minefield (-3%): Ah, ’tis the season for "sourced" reports, unsubstantiated rumors and wild speculation regarding Tiger’s status at Augusta. Be careful out there.

Daniel Berger (-4%): And you thought his worst decision last week was forcing a Hall of Famer to tap in a 10-inch putt. Trying to stay alive in his match against Phil Mickelson, Berger hit a rock wall on his downswing, injured his left wrist and withdrew before the third round with the Masters less than two weeks away. Oy.

Match Play (-6%): Sure, Year 2 was an improvement, but that’s not saying much after its unpopular relaunch. There is still no flow to the week, too much golf to follow (112 matches!), too many scenarios to consider and too many meaningless matches. It’s unnecessarily complicated.

Getty Images

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."

Getty Images

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

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm