Two-tee start pays off for contenders at Hoylake

By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2014, 3:02 pm

HOYLAKE, England – Darren Clarke thought it was a joke. The R&A was abandoning 143 years of tradition and opting for an unprecedented two-tee start? No way.

Informed of the change of plans at dinner Friday night at his agent’s house, Clarke said he “used a bit of foul language and called them a liar.”

It was no prank.

In an anticipation of nasty weather, the R&A announced shortly after second-round play was completed that the remaining field of 72 players would go off split tees and in threesomes. The strong rain, fierce wind and rare lightning they expected actually skirted to the east, and players encountered the most scorable conditions of the week.

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“It was one of the beauties,” Clarke said of the usual draw. “You get good tee times; you get bad tee times. But they had to do it today, and it looks like they’ve made the perfect call.”

Two-tee starts are nothing new for players, of course, since it is the format used for a normal field of 156 during the first two rounds of PGA and European tour events.

In these unusual circumstances, though, Justin Rose said the bunched tee times were a big advantage for the leaders.

“In any golf tournament if you go out early in the morning, you have an opportunity to make up a lot of ground on the leaders,” he said. “That’s why finishing off golf tournaments is very hard, because typically you get the worst end of the golf course, as well as all the pressure. If you were leading the Open, I think it would have been a nice sort of opportunity to come out and play amongst a very level playing field.”

It also was a bit strange to have players go off 10 without the traditional sendoff from announcer Ivor Robson. In his stead was Mike Stewart, an official on the European Tour, who curtailed his holiday to accept the assignment. Among the players he introduced: Tiger Woods and Tom Watson.

As for Robson, he told the BBC, “I don’t know what I’ll do now this afternoon,” but figured he’d spend the rest of the day watching golf.

Henrik Stenson was among those who started on the back nine, and he said it was a “hassle” because there was a shuttle to the range and then back to the clubhouse and then out to the course.

“We stand there for 15 minutes before we’re going to tee off,” he said. “It’s not ideal, but there was a reason behind it. You can’t really blame that.”

Many players weren’t notified of their Round 3 tee times until late Friday night. Stenson went to bed at 11 p.m. still not knowing when he would tee off, and he said his caddie checked their start time in the middle of the night.

“I was only five minutes off on my guesstimate,” Stenson said.

So, in other words, he was far more accurate than the forecasters.

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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.

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Departure from TaylorMade

Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

Squashed beef with Paddy

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Victory at Valderrama

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

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