Steve Jones News Conference Transcript - 1996

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 3, 2001, 4:00 pm
STEVE JONES:My impressions? Well, I was never very good in school, so I can never come up with anything eloquent to say, but I say it is a thrill of a lifetime. I think every young boy growing up that has played golf has dreamed of making a putt on the last hole to win. Fortunately, mine was about one foot long, and if it was one inch longer I am not sure where I would have gone. But it is a great feeling. I never even thought about that. I had a great pairing with Tom Lehman today. I think that really helped calm me down. And several times out there he gave me some words of inspiration from the Bible and telling me to be courageous and be strong and I tried. It wasn't too strong on 17, but 18 felt pretty good and I would have rather have won it with a birdie on the last hole, but Tom got a bad break. He hit a good drive, nice tee shot; hit the fairway; just kicked it a little bit left and barely went in the bunker, but he tried it. He hit a good putt. Gave me a good read on it, so it helped me quite a bit. I couldn't have hit that putt any shorter on 18. The nerves wouldn't let me, so -- just glad to be here.
Q. We need to go through the birdies, bogeys.
STEVE JONES: I guess I parred the first eight holes. And let us see. Did I have some saves? There had to have been something. No saves, no. Hit all -- I think I hit all the fairways except for number 2 and all the greens the first nine holes. That is what my thoughts were today. I really wanted to try to focus in on hitting the ball in the fairway. I did that on Thursday and Friday, but I also wanted to make some birdies, so when I hit it close on 9 and that putt went in, I was really relieved. It really helped me a lot when that putt went in. Then on 10, I hit a driver just perfect. I was on the side slope and I kind of chunked -- pushed my 8-iron out there about 40 feet. I had a good line on hit, but I was just trying to lag it kind of close to the hole and it went right in the middle. That was a big thrill. The next hole parred. I guess the par 5 I birdied that; Tom hit driver. He hit a great cut shot driver. I was going to hit driver, but when I saw his go over the green, I felt like I needed to keep my ball below the hole, so I hit a 3-wood and I hit it in the bunker. And Tom got a bad break there with a bad lie downhill, and he tried to chip it out to the right. Unfortunately, he made bogey. But I hit mine four feet and made birdie. I really felt good at that moment. But I got up on 13 and I pulled my 7 out just enough left and probably basically two feet too far. If it had been two feet less, it would have rolled back pin-high. I felt like I had a good blade sand wedge out of there and missed the putt. And then par up 'til 15, I think -- I guess it was. 14 was definitely a big save. I had a really hard shot there and chipped it up there about a foot. And then 17, I got a little quick. Tom had hit a 6-iron. I guess I felt like it went over the green because the people, you know, they weren't yelling up there. I thought he holed it. And so I was just going to hit a hard 6-iron and I got ahead of it and kind of bladed it to the right and left it in the high muff; made bogey there, kind of pulled my putt about eight feet. 18: I saw Tom's kick left, and it went in the bunker, wasn't a good break at all. And so I just -- everyday I'd hit that fairway, so today I said 'take it right over the bunker and hit it perfect. ' I was really relieved when I hit that fairway.
Q. That next shot, do you know how close that came to going in?
STEVE JONES: I don't, no.
Q. It was close, we could see that on the screen. On 12, what was your shot, club to the green, I think you may have missed that one.
STEVE JONES: Hit a 3-wood in the bunker, then hit it
Q. Number 9.
STEVE JONES: 9 was a 4-iron about ten feet.
Q. Putt on 13.
STEVE JONES: That I missed in probably six feet. 18: Distance club, 170. It was perfect, really, for me, 170, cross-wind, I knew I could hit a hard 7-iron uphill. I was pretty pumped up, and I knew it wouldn't -- it finished somewhere up there if I could just get it started, and I hit it a little bit thin, similar to the shot on 17, but this time I turned it over a little bit and it drew, and I think it landed just short of the green, took a big bounce, because I hit it a little bit thin. But when I saw that it was up there by the hole, I was very thankful. Wasn't looking forward to that putt. But again, I got a good read off Tom. He really helped me with the speed on that one. I couldn't have hit it any shorter. I mean, I just felt like I touched it.
Q. What was it, about 9 feet?
STEVE JONES: I think it was more like about 14, 12 or 14 feet. On 18: Number 10, I was about 40 feet.
Q. Anymore on the card?
STEVE JONES: I hit 7-iron short of the green on 14.
Q. Steve, when Tom was in here, he mentioned that during your two seasons you sat out after the finger injury --
Q. Three seasons you sat out, that he kind of -- you guys talked during that time and became good friends and stuff. Would you kind of elaborate on that for us a little bit?
STEVE JONES: Yeah, I met Tom, I don't know, back -- I think it was 1983 or 1984. Might have been '85. I can't even remember. But I really kind of got to know Tom when he moved to Phoenix since I had moved there in 1982. And definitely, I mean, he has always been an inspiration to me because of where he came from coming up on the Nike Tour, the mini-tours, and he was just grinding his way up to the Tour ranks. And he has always given me words of encouragement when I was off, and even the last couple of years when I came back out here, just kept telling me to be patient.
Q. You said he was quoting some biblical -- giving you some biblical scriptures on the course. Can you tell us where and what it was?
STEVE JONES: Yeah, the first hole he was just telling me -- he said, 'you know the Lord wants us to be courageous and strong, for that is the will of God,' and I really got to thinking then. I said, 'yeah, that is right.' I had another brother, Jim Hiskey (phonetic) called me this morning; he said the same thing, 'be strong and courageous,' and I was trying, but I was really, really nervous. I know how strong I was, but I knew I was nervous. And then on 16, walking down the fairway on 16, he told me -- he said the same thing to me again and it really helped calm me. And after watching his shot go, you know, basically drew it right in at the pin; then he lipped out, I knew he meant what he said, because anybody in that situation that would fire at that pin -- he actually aimed it almost at the water and drew it away from the water on 16. Then he lipped the putt, hit a good putt, then hit it right at the pin on 17 and hit driver on 18 - I knew he was courageous and strong. I just tried to hang on.
Q. You weren't the only one that was nervous today. That was a great show to watch.
STEVE JONES: Thank you.
Q. After hitting the first eight greens in regulation and missing those makeable birdie putts on 7 and 8, what got you going on 9 where you birdied 9, 10 and then 12, and 12 you took the lead outright. How did it feel to take the lead outright at 12 and what did it feel like at 9?
STEVE JONES: I think it kind of -- the pressure kind of got off me a little bit because of Tom - he was, I guess, three birdies and a bogey was 4-under. I was three shots back. He is the only one I paid attention to all day. I never looked at the board. I just kept telling myself 'hit the fairway, hit the green.' That is what I told Roger this morning in an interview. I just want to try hit fairways and greens like I did on Thursday and Friday and be patient and my swing was really working well. As you know, my swing could really go haywire at times after watching me yesterday, but when I made the putt on 9, that really kept me going, just because I finally made a 1-putt for birdie. I didn't know if I was, you know, was going to have any birdies, because I didn't have any on Thursday, Thursday and could it happen out here real easily. On 10, I didn't hit a really good approach shot and I tried to whack the putt in there and it went in. One of those things that happens.
Q. With a name like Jones, has Bobby Jones been an inspiration for you, what he did and also, can you talk a little bit more about the Hogan book?
STEVE JONES: Yeah, obviously as a young kid growing up and hearing everything and reading things about Bobby Jones, kind of gave me that little boost of confidence having that, you know, one of the Jones boys has done a really good job at playing golf, and now to be on this trophy, is just incredible. The Hogan book, a guy Drew Tutt, (phonetic) a friend of mine in Phoenix, sent me the book in Montana last week and he had read it. He felt like it would help me. It did. I read the book. I wasn't too sure about it. Boy, when I started reading it, I couldn't put it down. I read that book for three days, finished it on Wednesday. Monday and Tuesday, I really practiced hard. I was exhausted after Monday and Tuesday working on my swing, and basically what I got out of the Hogan book was this guy, no matter what the situation, he was always trying to make birdie, always trying to focus on the next shot, and that is what I tried to do this week. And I honestly don't think I could have won this tournament without reading that book. Sounds crazy, but I guess -- I mean, it does. It takes a lot of guts to win, and I wasn't ever sure if I had the guts to win another tournament, let alone a major. You got to be patient. I was trying to be patient, but I was nervous and I wanted to be impatient. But I kept telling myself just what Hogan said, you know, focus in on each shot and don't worry about the outcome. When he was walking up the fairway -- actually, after he had won the tournament here in '51, the best quote was the runner-up, I can't even think of his name now in '51 -- Clayton Heafner? Heafner had asked him. He told him -- he said, 'Congratulations, Ben.' He says, 'well, thank you very much.' He said, 'how did you do?' (LAUGHTER) And Clayton got second. He lost by two shots and Ben had birdied the last hole. Ben was only focused on himself. Playing as good as he could do. I think of that and I just laugh. Yeah, you know --
Q. Talk a little bit about the things you have done over the past few years, not just immediately, but the setup, a routine that got you here today, monthly goals, weekly goals. I mean, what did you do to get back on the road to health and end up the United States Open Champion?
STEVE JONES: Well, I think -- first of all, I don't care how much preparation and how many goals you set or anything like that - that would never guarantee a U.S. Open Championship. I think there is a lot of people that can attest to that. I just happened to be at the right place at the right time. And Nick Faldo asked Hogan once, he said, 'what do I have to do to win U.S. Open?' And Hogan said, 'shoot the lowest score.' And that is true. I mean, you shoot the lowest score and you win. It was real simple. Basically for me, when I had the three years off, I wasn't sure -- I injured my finger a couple of times trying to come back; wasn't sure if I was ever going to play again; wasn't sure if my finger was going to hold up. It is still not 100%, but anything over 95 percent, I could handle it. I never practiced too much because I was afraid I would injure it again. But the last, probably, year I started practicing a little bit more, and my teacher since 1982 has been Paul Purtzer out in Phoenix, he has taken me under his wing and just helped me through thick and thin. He has helped me for 14 years. And Paul Purtzer is Tom Purtzer's older brother. I can't thank him enough for sticking with me and all the lessons he has given me with no charge. The guy is incredible. I mean, he really knows golf, and I really appreciate him very much. He was a big inspiration to me. He has always told me -- he said, 'you are the greatest. You are the greatest.' I know he says that to Tom too, but he is a very big encourager.
Q. Besides your finger, did you go to a sports psychologist?
STEVE JONES: No, I don't use a sports psychologist.
Q. How many autographs did you sign at the last tournament, and how many will you sign next week?
STEVE JONES: Thousands, I hope. I love it. Next week, thousands, I hope.
Q. Last week?
STEVE JONES: Last week, how many? Well, it was during Muirfield. I hadn't played last week, but two weeks ago, signed a few. There was a lot of gracious people at Muirfield, but not as many as I am going to sign hopefully in a little bit.
Q. Give us some details on the Sectional, what you did on 18? Did you have to do something there to just to get in the playoff?
STEVE JONES: I did. I hit a perfect drive on 18 at The Lakes in Columbus, Ohio, and I was playing really well. I was 6-under after 12-over Brookside and ended up 5-under on that round. Then went back, played four holes at The Lakes, got rained out, came back on Tuesday, very long day on 18. My 36th hole, hit a good drive, had an 8-iron shot in there, pulled it a little long left of the green, had a little uphill chip shot. I was very nervous. For some reason, I was 3-under par, and I knew I had to make par to have a chance at going to the Open. I chipped it up there probably about a foot and a half. I was, 'oh, no, one of these;' just a little bit longer than the one I made out here, but almost the same feeling. The nerves were there. I made it. Got into the playoff. Parred the first hole, and Tom Purtzer didn't make it, but he ended up getting in as an alternate anyway. But if I had bogeyed the last hole, you know, I might not have made it here.
Q. Do you and Tom spend a lot of time together? Do you play a lot of golf together? You talked about his inspiration for you. Did you encourage --
STEVE JONES: The first one was about -- oh, no, we don't really play much golf when we are home. We haven't played much together at all. We just -- couple of times we have hung out; talked to each other on the phone. We have busy schedules and everything like that. But our kids enjoy each other. The other thing, no, I didn't encourage him at all. I wanted to win, no just -- (LAUGHTER) -- No, just kidding. I didn't know what else to say. I mean, he was -- I mean, Tom was a class person and he really did -- I am just saying -- I just said, 'amen, amen.' He kept telling me 'okay, okay.' I didn't know what else to say because he was saying -- everything he was saying is the right words. I said, 'okay, both of us, okay, both of us.' To come down to the last hole I just, you know, the one thing I was thinking about was I don't want to go another day. Hogan did that once or twice, I don't know, but he talked about how tough that was, and I didn't want to have to play tomorrow. So unfortunately Tom, you know, ran into a bad break and bogeyed the last hole, but..... Tough course.
Q. To follow-up on the Hogan book, did you also take any inspiration from his comeback from that car accident and also for those of us who haven't heard it, could you please recount how your bike accident occurred?
STEVE JONES: First of all, in November of 1991 I was out in the desert riding dirt bikes with a friend and he wrecked in front of me, and instead of running over him I tried to stop, and I should have ran over him, but I didn't. And I ended up when I woke up, he was over there, against the ditch, and he had broke his collar bone and I had sprained my ankle and separated my left shoulder, and my finger hurt real bad too. I didn't realize my finger was hurt that bad because I had dislocated it before, but it was quite a shock when it happened. I was playing pretty good golf at the time, and I forgot your last question.
Q. Hogan --
STEVE JONES: Definitely. I mean, obviously my accident wasn't even close to what he went through. I had no idea what he went through with the surgeries, almost dying several times, the pain he went through. I just had no idea. I am not really a golf historian, although I really enjoy watching all the old tapes of the players. I have always enjoyed that St. Andrews and all the old courses, the Majors and Shell's Wonderful Wild World of Golf, all that stuff, that is just -- it was -- it was the big inspiration. I have said that all week, every time I have talked to someone, I told them that the Hogan book really helped me and I honestly think I wouldn't have won without reading that book. Hopefully the sales will go up right now.
Q. Could you talk about the MCI Tournament where you hit it out of bounds on the last hole; Davis winning that first tournament?
STEVE JONES: I had no idea that he had bogeyed the last hole until my brother told me on 18 green, he said -- I said, 'how do we stand?' I didn't even know, you know, and he said, 'you are tied with Lehman and Love.' I am thinking, oh, great, I got to make this putt or I am going tomorrow. And he looked at the board again, he goes, no, he is one -- it is just you and Lehman. I said, oh, okay. You know, I kind of -- oh, okay. But yeah, he told Chris Berman he has been waiting for 10 years to pay me back and if he was ever going to do it he said this was a good tournament to do it, but obviously I didn't want him to bogey the last hole either, but I hit it out of bounds on the last hole at the Heritage there to lose by one to Davis. I was really nervous that tournament. I mean, I couldn't even feel my legs. But I knew that there wasn't any out of bounds on 18, so I just went ahead and ripped it.
Q. Steve, did you start playing golf after you had moved to Colorado and did you play sand green courses out there?
STEVE JONES: I was Colorado's sand greens champion for two years in a row back in -- (LAUGHTER) I was!-- in 1979 and 1980 up in Jewelsburg (ph), was it? Yeah, Jewelsburg, and they gave us a car for a month as a trophy. But, yeah, I shot 7 under and in 45 holes in my second year. So I have always been proud of that.
Q. Can you tell us how you overcame your finger problem and whether you ever came close to quitting golf?
STEVE JONES: Well, I went to see a lot of doctors and I baffled a lot of doctors no one really knew what exactly was wrong with me or how long it was going to take and that was frustrating at the time. It wasn't until about three, four months after the injury that I felt like my finger was the worst part of my body that wasn't recovering right. And after seven months of rehab, I didn't know what else to do. And reinjured it playing again went and saw another doctor. And finally after ten months from the original time I injured my finger, it was September of 1992, I talked to John Cook and -- well, my manager did. He got John Cook's doctor out of Palm Springs. I went and saw him. He basically told me -- he says what it sounds like every time you hit it, it makes it worse and it takes longer to heal, so why don't you just wrap these two middle fingers for two or three months and call me in three months and tell me if it felt any better. So I called him about three and a half months later. I said 'it went from 45% to 85 percent better.' He said, 'good, I think we found out how to cure it, just don't do anything.' Because with a ligament -- you basically keep your stretch in motion, but you can't work. It is not a muscle. You have to wait until it heals, and that is what I did.
Q. Steve, can you talk about just playing 18, it was the toughest hole in the course, but you were one under I believe for the week; I think Tom was 3 over.
STEVE JONES: Yeah, well, I hit four perfect drives there on the first day. I hit it in the left bunker and made, I think, about 6-foot putt for par. The next day I hit it in the right bunker and made about a 6-foot putt for par, I believe. Yesterday, I hit it up there, I think, about eight feet; made that for birdie and then today I honestly felt I could make that putt on the last hole and just rimmed the edge but definitely, I think I would give all my credit to my driver. I have only been using that driver for four weeks, the King Cobra driver, and it is really helped my game -- what can I say?
Q. Steve, you talked about being nervous. Every time the camera flashed on you seemed to be laughing and, you know, kind of playing with the crowd a little bit. Talk about your emotions today.
STEVE JONES: Well, I guess part of that was I didn't really try to focus there on my score too much. I just said, hey, just play the best you can play. You know, just act like you are out here Tuesday. I played -- Jeff Maggert and I played Lee Janzen and Phil Mickelson, and we had a little bet going. And it kind of pumped me up. And afterwards, we won the bet one up, Jeff Maggert and -- I think we were 8 under and it kind of pumped me up a little bit. Last time I did that was in 1988 I played with Tom Watson and Tom and I were partners at Cypress Point, and we were playing against three amateurs Sandy Tatum, Robert Trent Jones Jr., and the third name just -- you know, he will probably shoot me, but I can't remember Tom and I ended up winning that day and we won a few dollars. They actually paid. I ended up shooting 64 at Cypress Point. I won AT&T Pebble Beach, my first win, and after Tuesday we won one up. I said, 'last time I did this, I won a tournament.' So I think I know my route now. I need some Tuesday games, and I really honestly thought about that a little bit and said it gave me some good competition early; what I needed to do I had five birdies that day, and kind of pumped me up.
Q. Steve, you missed two cuts coming in here. Where was your mindset then and what did you think your chances were having missed two cuts?
STEVE JONES: Well, it was funny because at Kemper I was playing pretty well. I just finished 6th at Colonial the week before, but it just didn't happen; just wasn't there. Missed by one; went to Muirfield, was on my game, playing well, 4 under, with two holes to go the first day. Hit a perfect drive on 17. Hit good 7-iron, made bogey; got upset at myself. Went on 18; hit perfect drive on 18, hit it in the back bunker, went by a rock out of the bunker -- what is a rock doing there at Muirfield in a bunker? Probably the only one in the whole place. Made double bogey finished one under. I was upset. Came out the next day. Ended up bogeying 17, 18; missed the cut by one. Couldn't believe it. Probably the best thing that happened to me. I went to church that Sunday; got some things resolved in my own life, what needed to be resolved; got my priorities straight again, and came out on Monday qualifying at the U.S. Open regional, and kept my focus, played well, and almost, you know, lost it there too after being 6-under after 12 the first round. I ended up 3-under for that and -- but I feel like my focus is back where it should be and hopefully I will remain there.
More Transcripts from Past U.S. Open Champions
Getty Images

NBC Sports' Coverage of LPGA Tour in 2017 Most-Viewed Season Ever for NBC Sports

By Golf Channel Public RelationsDecember 13, 2017, 8:45 pm

NBC Sports’ LPGA Tour Coverage Ties 2013 for Most-Watched Year Since 2011

NBC and Golf Channel Boast Top-6 Most-Watched Women’s Golf Telecasts in 2017

Beginning with the dramatic playoff finish at the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic in January and concluding with Lexi Thompson winning the $1 million Race to the CME Globe, nearly 22 million viewers tuned in to LPGA Tour coverage across Golf Channel and NBC in 2017. This makes 2017 the most-viewed LPGA Tour season across NBC Sports since Golf Channel joined the NBC Sports Group in 2011. Additionally, 2017 tied 2013 as the LPGA Tour’s most-watched year across NBC Sports since 2011. Coverage drew an average of 221,000 viewers per telecast in 2017 (+24% vs. 2016), according to data released by The Nielsen Company.


For the first time ever in televised women’s golf, Sunday’s final round of the RICOH Women’s British Open (Sunday, Aug. 6, 2017, 1.1 million viewers) delivered the most-watched and highest-rated women’s golf telecast of the year. NBC’s Saturday (Day 2) coverage of the Solheim Cup in August placed second with 968,000 viewers, followed by Sunday’s Solheim Cup coverage on NBC with 946,000 viewers. Golf Channel’s live coverage of Sunday’s final day of the Solheim Cup drew 795,000 viewers, the most-watched women’s golf event on cable in eight years.





Avg. Viewers P2+
































  • ANA Inspiration - The LPGA’s first major championship delivered thefifth most-watched LPGA final round in Golf Channel history with 551,000 viewers when So Yeon Ryu defeated Lexi Thompson in a playoff following Thompson being assessed a four-stroke penalty earlier in the final round.
  • KPMG Women’s PGA Championship – The LPGA’s second major was seen by 6.6 million viewers across Golf Channel and NBC, the largest audience for the event on record (2006-17). Sunday’s final round on NBC, which saw Danielle Kang win her first LPGA Tour event over defending champion Brooke Henderson, also was the most-watched telecast in the event’s history with 840,000 average viewers.
  • RICOH Women’s British Open – NBC’s Sunday coverage of the RICOH Women’s British Open delivered the most-watched and highest-rated women’s golf telecast in 2017 (.78 U.S. HH rating, 1.1 million viewers). In total, 7 million unique viewers tuned in to coverage across Golf Channel and NBC, the most-watched RICOH Women’s British Open in the past 10 years and the most-watched among the five women’s major championships in 2017.
  • Solheim Cup – Seen by a total audience of 7.3 million viewers across Golf Channel and NBC, the Solheim Cup posted the largest total audience for women’s golf since the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open on ESPN/NBC. Golf Channel’s live coverage of the final day drew 795,000 average viewers, becoming the most-watched women’s golf telecast on cable in the last eight years, since the final day of the 2009 Solheim Cup.


Golf Channel Digital posted record numbers of LPGA streaming consumption with 11.9 million live minutes streamed across LPGA Tour telecasts in 2017 (+563% vs. 2016).

  • Solheim Cup – Three-day coverage of the Solheim Cup saw 6.3 million minutes streamed across NBC Sports’ Digital platforms, trailing only the 2016 Rio Olympics (9 million) as the most-ever for a women’s golf event airing on Golf Channel / NBC.
  • RICOH Women’s British Open – Four-day coverage of the RICOH Women’s British Open saw 2 million minutes streamed, +773% vs. 2016.

NBC Sports Group combined to air 31 LPGA Tour events in 2017 and a total of 420 hours of coverage, the most in LPGA history. The exclusive cable home to the LPGA Tour, Golf Channel aired coverage of four of five women’s major championships in 2017, with three majors also airing on NBC: the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, RICOH Women’s British Open and The Evian Championship. The biennial Solheim Cup also returned to network television for the first time in 15 years with weekend coverage on NBC.

Source: Nielsen 2017 Live+Same Day DVR vs. prior available data. Persons 2+ avg 000’s and/or Persons 2+ reach w/six-minute qualifier. Digital Metrics from Adobe Reports & Analytics. Details available.

Hensby takes full responsibility for violation

By Rex HoggardDecember 13, 2017, 5:28 pm

The PGA Tour’s Anti-Doping Program manual covers 48 pages of details, from the pressing to the mundane, but for Mark Hensby the key section of the policy could be found on Page 5.

“The collector may allow you to delay reporting to the testing area for unavoidable obligations; however, you will be monitored from the time of notification until completion of the sample collection process,” the policy reads. “A failure to report to the testing area by the required time is the same as a doping violation under the program.”

Hensby, a 46-year-old former Tour winner from Australia, didn’t read that section, or any other part of the manual. In fact, he said he hasn’t received the circuit’s anti-doping manual in years. Not that he uses that as an excuse.

To be clear, Hensby doesn’t blame his anti-doping plight on anyone else.

“At the end of the day it’s my responsibility. I take full responsibility,” he told

Like Doug Barron, Scott Stallings and even Vijay Singh before him, Hensby ran afoul of the Tour’s anti-doping policy because, essentially, of a clerical error. There were no failed tests, no in-depth investigations, no seedy entourages who sent Hensby down a dark road of performance-enhancing drug use.

Just a simple misunderstanding combined with bad timing.

Hensby, who last played a full season on Tour in 2003, had just completed the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship when he was approached by a member of the Tour’s anti-doping testing staff. He was angry about his play and had just used the restroom on the 17th hole and, he admits, was in no mood to wait around to take the urine test.

“Once I said, ‘Can I take it in the morning,’ [the Tour’s anti-doping official] said, ‘We can’t hold you here,’” Hensby recalled. “I just left.”

Not one but two officials called Hensby that night to ask why he’d declined to take the test, and he said he was even advised to return to the Country Club of Jackson (Miss.) to take the test, which is curious because the policy doesn’t allow for such gaps between notification of a test and the actual testing.

According to the policy, a player is considered in violation of the program if he leaves the presence of the doping control officers without providing the required sample.

A Tour official declined to comment on the matter citing the circuit’s policy not to comment on doping violations beyond the initial disclosure.

A week later, Hensby was informed he was in violation of the Tour’s policy and although he submitted a letter to the commissioner explaining the reasons for his failure to take the test he was told he would be suspended from playing in any Tour-sanctioned events (including events on the Tour) for a year.

“I understand now what the consequences are, but you know I’ve been banned for a performance-enhancing drug violation, and I don’t take performance-enhancing drugs,” Hensby said.

Hensby isn’t challenging his suspension nor did he have any interest in criticizing the Tour’s policy, instead his message two days after the circuit announced the suspension was focused on his fellow Tour members.

“I think the players need to read that manual really, really well. There are things I wasn’t aware of and I think other players weren’t aware of either,” he said. “You have to read the manual.”

It was a similar message Stallings offered following his 90-day suspension in 2015 after he turned himself in for using DHEA, an anabolic agent that is the precursor to testosterone production and banned by the Tour.

“This whole thing was a unique situation that could have been dealt with differently, but I made a mistake and I owned up to it,” Stallings said at the time.

Barron’s 2009 suspension, which was for a year, also could have been avoided after he tested positive for supplemental testosterone and a beta-blocker, both of which were prescribed by a doctor for what were by many accounts legitimate health issues.

And Singh’s case, well that chapter is still pending in the New York Supreme Court, but the essential element of the Fijian’s violation was based on his admitted use of deer-antler spray, which contained a compound called IGF-1. Although IGF-1 is a banned substance, the World Anti-Doping Agency has ruled that the use of deer-antler spray is not a violation if an athlete doesn’t fail a drug test. Singh never failed a test.

The Tour’s anti-doping history is littered with cases that could have been avoided, cases that should have been avoided. Despite the circuit’s best educational efforts, it’s been these relatively innocent violations that have defined the program.

In retrospect, Hensby knows he should have taken the test. He said he had nothing to hide, but anger got the best of him.

“To be honest, it would have been hard, the way I was feeling that day, I know I’m a hothead at times, but I would have probably stayed [had he known the consequences],” he admitted. “You’ve got to understand that if you have too much water you can’t get a test either and then you have to stay even longer.”

Hensby said before his run in with the anti-doping small print he wasn’t sure what his professional future would be, but his suspension has given him perspective and a unique motivation.

“I was talking to my wife last night, I have a little boy, it’s been a long month,” said Hensby after dropping his son, Caden, off at school. “I think I have a little more drive now and when I come back. I wasn’t going to play anymore, but when I do come back I am going to be motivated.”

He’s also going to be informed when it comes to the Tour’s anti-doping policy, and he hopes his follow professionals take a similar interest.

Getty Images

Lesson with Woods fetches $210K for Harvey relief

By Will GrayDecember 13, 2017, 2:51 pm

A charity event featuring more than two dozen pro golfers raised more than $1 million for Hurricane Harvey relief, thanks in large part to a hefty price paid for a private lesson with Tiger Woods.

The pro-am fundraiser was organized by Chris Stroud, winner of the Barracuda Championship this summer, and fellow pro and Houston resident Bobby Gates. It was held at Bluejack National in Montgomery, Texas, about an hour outside Houston and the first Woods-designed course to open in the U.S.

The big-ticket item on the auction block was a private, two-person lesson with Woods at Bluejack National that sold for a whopping $210,000.

Other participants included local residents like Stacy Lewis, Patrick Reed and Steve Elkington as well as local celebrities like NBA All-Star Clyde Drexler, Houston Texans quarterback T.J. Yates and Houston Astros owner Jim Crane.

Stroud was vocal in his efforts to help Houston rebuild in the immediate aftermath of the storm that ravaged the city in August, and he told the Houston Chronicle that he plans to continue fundraising efforts even after eclipsing the event's $1 million goal.

"This is the best event I have ever been a part of, and this is just a start," Stroud said. "We have a long way to go for recovery to this city, and we want to keep going with this and raise as much as we can and help as many victims as we can."

Getty Images

LPGA schedule features 34 events, record purse

By Randall MellDecember 13, 2017, 2:02 pm

The LPGA schedule will once again feature 34 events next year with a record $68.75 million in total purses, the tour announced on Wednesday.

While three events are gone from the 2018 schedule, three new events have been added, with two of those on the West Coast and one in mainland China.

The season will again start with the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic on Paradise Island (Jan. 25-28) and end with the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Fla., (Nov. 15-18).

The LPGA played for $65 million in total prize money in 2017.

An expanded West Coast swing in the front half of the schedule will now include the HUGEL-JTBC Championship in the Los Angeles area April 19-22. The site will be announced at a later date.

The tour will then make a return to San Francisco’s Lake Merced Golf Club the following week, in a new event sponsored by L&P Cosmetics, a Korean skincare company. Both new West Coast tournaments will be full-field events.

The tour’s third new event will be played in Shanghai Oct. 18-21 as part of the fall Asian swing. The title sponsor and golf course will be announced at a later date.

“Perhaps the most important aspect of our schedule is the consistency — continuing to deliver strong playing opportunities both in North America and around the world, while growing overall purse levels every year,” LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said in a statement. “There is simply no better [women’s] tour opportunity in the world, when it comes to purses, global TV coverage or strength of field. It’s an exciting time in women’s golf, with the best players from every corner of the globe competing against each other in virtually every event.”

While the Evian Championship will again be played in September next year, the tour confirmed its plans to move its fifth major to the summer in 2019, to be part of a European swing, with the Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open and the Ricoh Women’s British Open.

The Manulife LPGA Classic and the Lorena Ochoa Invitational are not returning to the schedule next year. Also, the McKayson New Zealand Women’s Open will not be played next year as it prepares to move to the front of the 2019 schedule, to be paired with the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.

The U.S. Women’s Open will make its new place earlier in the summer, a permanent move in the tour’s scheduling. It will be played May 31-June 3 at Shoal Creek Golf Club outside Birmingham, Ala. The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship (June 28-July 1) will be played at Kemper Lakes Golf Club on the north side of Chicago and the Ricoh Women’s British Open (Aug. 2-5) will be played at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in England.

For the first time since its inception in 2014, the UL International Crown team event is going overseas, with the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Incheon, South Korea, scheduled to host the event Oct. 4-7. The KEB Hana Bank Championship will be played in South Korean the following week.

Here is the LPGA's schedule for 2018:

Jan. 25-28: Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic; Paradise Island, Bahamas; Purse: $1.4 million

Feb. 15-18: ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open; Adelaide, Australia; Purse: $1.3 million

Feb. 21-24: Honda LPGA Thailand; Chonburi, Thailand; Purse: $1.6 million

March 1-4: HSBC Women's World Championship; Singapore; Purse: $1.5 million

March 15-18: Bank of Hope Founders Cup; Phoenix, Arizona; Purse: $1.5 million

March 22-25: Kia Classic; Carlsbad, California; Purse: $1.8 million

March 29 - April 1: ANA Inspiration; Rancho Mirage, California; Purse: $2.8 million

April 11-14: LOTTE Championship; Kapolei, Oahu, Hawaii; Purse: $2 million

April 19-22: HUGEL-JTBC Championship; Greater Los Angeles, California; Purse: $1.5 million

April 26-29: Name to be Announced; San Francisco, California; Purse: $1.5 million

May 3-6: Volunteers of America LPGA Texas Classic; The Colony, Texas; Purse: $1.3 million

May 17-20: Kingsmill Championship; Williamsburg, Virginia; Purse: $1.3 million

May 24-27: LPGA Volvik Championship; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Purse: $1.3 million

May 31 - June 3: U.S. Women's Open Championship; Shoal Creek, Alabama; Purse: $5 million

June 8-10: ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer; Galloway, New Jersey; Purse: $1.75 million

June 14-17: Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Purse: $2 million

June 22-24: Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G; Rogers, Arkansas; Purse: $2 million

June 28 - July 1: KPMG Women's PGA Championship; Kildeer, Illinois; Purse: $3.65 million

July 5-8: Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic; Oneida, Wisconsin; Purse: $2 million

July 12-15: Marathon Classic presented by Owens-Corning and O-I; Sylvania, Ohio; Purse: $1.6 million

July 26-29: Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open; East Lothian, Scotland; Purse: $1.5 million

Aug. 2-5: Ricoh Women's British Open; Lancashire, England; Purse: $3.25 million

Aug. 16-19: Indy Women in Tech Championship presented by Guggenheim; Indianapolis, Indiana; Purse: $2 million

Aug. 23-26: CP Women's Open; Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada; Purse: $2.25 million

Aug. 30 - Sept. 2: Cambia Portland Classic; Portland, Oregon; Purse: $1.3 million

Sept. 13-16: The Evian Championship; Evian-les-Bains, France; Purse: $3.85 million

Sept. 27-30: Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Purse: $1.8 million

Oct. 4-7: UL International Crown; Incheon, Korea; Purse: $1.6 million

Oct. 11-14: LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship; Incheon, Korea; Purse: $2 million

Oct. 18-21: Name to be Announced; Shanghai, China; Purse: $2.1 million

Oct. 25-28: Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship; New Taipei City, Chinese Taipei; Purse: $2.2 million

Nov. 2-4: TOTO Japan Classic; Shiga, Japan; Purse: $1.5 million

Nov. 7-10: Blue Bay LPGA; Hainan Island, China; Purse: $2.1 million

Nov. 15-18: CME Group Tour Championship; Naples, Florida; Purse: $2.5 million