Stock Watch: Hurley soars; Too late for Muirfield?

By Ryan LavnerJune 28, 2016, 1:11 pm

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

RISING

Billy Hurley III (+8%): His unlikely triumph at Congressional was the feel-good story of the year, the former Navy man overcoming a public family tragedy to win for the first time on the PGA Tour. As good as it gets.

Lydia Ko (+6%): With 13 titles, at age 19, the world No. 1 is already bearing down on the number of career victories by Cristie Kerr (18), Inbee Park (17) and Suzann Pettersen (15). Frightening.

Year of the Journeyman (+5%): Though 2016 is destined to be remembered for Jordan Spieth’s 12th hole and Dustin Johnson’s controversial breakthrough, it also has produced some of the most improbable victories, from Vaughn Taylor (Pebble) to Jim Herman (Houston) to Will McGirt (Memorial) to Hurley.

Jon Rahm (+4%): If you’d never watched the 21-year-old Spaniard play before, now you know what all the fuss has been about for the past four years. The kid’s an absolute stud.

Henrik Stenson (+2%): He’s a winner for the first time in 19 months, and his timing couldn’t have been better – with two majors in a three-week span, Big Stense’s sublime ball-striking could carry him to that long-awaited major.


FALLING

Ernie (-1%): On the verge of a redemptive victory, Els instead made five bogeys and a double Sunday, the only player in the top 20 to close with an over-par final round.

Rickie (-2%): The good news? He snapped a streak of three consecutive missed cuts. The bad? A 73-74 weekend only led to more questions about the state of his game as the heart of the season approaches.

USGA fallout (-4%): Good thing the blue blazers run only one men’s event a year, because they’re still (deservedly) getting ripped for their epic mishandling of the DJ situation at Oakmont. Lee Westwood was the latest to pile on, saying that the USGA was uninterested in hearing what Johnson or Westwood had to say during the video review afterward. A bad look, all around.

Muirfield (-5%): After having the Open taken away, the club’s membership now wants a political do-over, saying that it plans to have another vote on female members by the end of the year. The question now is whether Muirfield’s reputation has already been irrevocably damaged.

Olympic dropouts (-8%): Eleven players (and counting) have now withdrawn from the Rio Games. It’s a shame not only for this year’s competition but also the future of the sport – a vote on whether golf should continue as a medal sport will be held in 2017, and it’s obvious this year will lack the appropriate star power.

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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