Woods' game still needs work with Masters looming

By Ryan LavnerMarch 13, 2015, 8:02 pm

Tiger Woods announced Friday that he won’t return to competition next week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the most surprising – and significant – development during an indefinite break that is now 36 days and counting.

In a brief statement released on his website, Woods said that he’s “making strides” but reiterated that he won’t return until he can compete at the highest level.

Translation: His game may be in better shape than when he was chopping his way around Phoenix or being carted off the course in San Diego, but he is not yet ready to welcome the public scrutiny of a tournament round. Even after five weeks of work.

These issues run deep.

When Woods said last month that he wouldn’t return to the PGA Tour until his game was “tournament-ready,” Bay Hill was his most likely landing spot, for a few reasons. For starters, Woods has won a record eight times at Arnie’s Place. He had more than a month to work on his game. And he would have the benefit of at least two competitive rounds under his belt before the Masters, which begins in 27 days.

Apparently, it still wasn’t enough time to sort out what appears to be a combination of physical and psychological problems.

He remains hopeful to play in the Masters, but this news only puts his participation in further jeopardy. If he doesn’t feel ready to compete at Bay Hill, where he has so much institutional knowledge, Woods’ beleaguered short game would seem to stand little chance on and around Augusta’s notoriously treacherous greens.

Those clinging to hope that Woods can contend at Augusta without significant reps undoubtedly point to his performance in 2010, when he tied for fourth in his first start since admitting to serial infidelity. Back then his personal life was in disarray, but his world-class game remained intact, only months removed from a six-win PGA Tour season. Best we can tell, the opposite is true here.

Of course, guessing where the former world No. 1 will return is fool’s work.

He’s unlikely to play the Valero for the first time since 1996, if only because TPC San Antonio ranks annually as one of the most difficult venues on the PGA Tour.

That leaves Houston.

Woods has never played the week before the Masters, but since we’re already in uncharted territory with his career, no option should be off the table. In the past few years, tournament officials have done an admirable job of preparing the course for what players will face at Augusta, with the grass mowed from green to tee, the shaved mounds around the putting surfaces and the speedy greens.

Making the Houston stop even more intriguing is the fact that on April 1 there’s a media preview for Bluejack National, Woods’ first U.S.-based golf-course design that is about an hour from the Golf Club of Houston. The invitation does not indicate that Woods will make an appearance there, but the timing – on Wednesday of Shell Houston Open week – is interesting nonetheless.

Steve Timms, the longtime SHO tournament director and president/CEO of the Houston Golf Association, said in an email Friday that he has not had any communication with Woods’ camp regarding a potential appearance at his event.

And so continues the never-ending soap opera, the will-he-or-won’t-he? waiting game that unfortunately has hijacked the sport. Check back next Friday for another update.

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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