Heads Game Plan Secures Title and Trophy
Head had just secured the title of the first co-sanctioned Nedbank MasterCard South African Ladies Masters, but the 28-year-old blonde did not realise immediately that it was her name at the top of the leaderboard. 'I heard the shouts and looked at the leader board and saw that I clinched it with that final putt,' exclaimed an ecstatic Head.
'It was all part of our game plan,' she added. Head's friend and caddy, European Tour professional Ignacio Garrido, told her this morning to stick to a simply strategy - play the course, only do what's worked so far, stay patient and never look at the leaderboard.
Although she knew she was in contention, Head never looked until the final putt dropped. Starting the final round at three behind the leader, Elisabeth Esterl, Head said she focused on remaining patient and tried not to think too far ahead. 'I've been trying my hardest to win all week,' said Head, winner of the 1999 Ladies Italian Open.
'I have been working very hard on my game, doing extensive work in the gym, as part of a two year plan. I am delighted with this victory - it came a lot quicker than I had anticipated,' bubbled Head after her victory.
Her round featured five birdies on the 2nd, 6th, 8th 14th and 17th holes, and only one drop on the 12th, for a round of 68 (-4). 'My birdie on 17 was a key putt - I hit it really hard from about 15 foot and I'm sure it dented the back of the cup!'
'Yesterday, the pin was on the left of the 18th green and so Ignacio advised me to go for the safe shot. I hit 5-wood from about 179 yards with a slight fade, but it went more straight than I wanted', said the lanky blonde. 'I was shaking really bad - all the way back and through the putt.'
Raquel Carriedo, fresh off her maiden professional victory on the Ladies European Tour in Taiwan last week, started the day at level par, five shots adrift from the overnight leader, Elisabeth Esterl of Germany. Samantha Head tied Paula Marti of Spain for 2nd at 2-under-par.
The Spaniard, who led for most of the day, made Head's task difficult, but a three-putt on the 18th saw her tie with Esterl in 2nd place. Esterl failed to take advantage of her overnight lead or the eagle at the 2nd hole, returning a score of even-par 72. Cecilie Lundgreen of Norway, who started at 1-under, quietly made her way around the Gary Player. A fabulous 10-footer for par on the 18th tied her 2nd with Carriedo and Esterl.
Only five South Africans survived the cut and the top finishing South African came as no surprise. Past Ladies Masters champion, Laurette Maritz, started her round at 3-over, but an up and down day saw her finish tied for 22nd with a total score of 221 (+5). Barbara Pestana finished tied for 37th, while Anneri Wessels and Caryn Louw tied for 28th.
Joanne Norton had the longest day of the South African contingent, recording a 78 (+6) today, in a round that included no birdies, but a terrific eagle on the 14th. She finished tied for 58th.
Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test
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."
Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage
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.
Swipe to see what’s up in my world. It’s long-winded.... short version, we lost the baby. Had to share this since we had shared the news already. I know you’re all so supportive and kind. I just couldn’t face it before. Now let’s get back to our regularly scheduled programming. #ihavealotoffeelings #andphotostocatchupon
“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
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.
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.
Green jacket tour
Man of the people
Ace at 17th at Sawgrass
Departure from TaylorMade
Squashed beef with Paddy
Victory at Valderrama
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com is counting down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below, including future release dates:
No. 4: Dec. 13
No. 3: Dec. 14
No. 2: Dec. 15
No. 1: Dec. 18