The 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass: Never a dull moment

By Brandon TuckerSeptember 5, 2012, 8:12 pm

Right: Bill Chapman, Michael Bresnahan and Jim Wright take dead aim on the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass Wednesday.

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Golf Channel Am Tour Senior Nationals competitors win a $500 gift card to Golf Galaxy with a hole-in-one this week. What I saw Sr. Sarazen competitor Bill Shirley do this morning on the 17th, while not an ace, deserves at least a cold beer.

Any golf fan has probably seen thousands of shots hit at No. 17 on TV thanks to The PLAYERS. But you've probably never seen any played from pine straw. Leave that to the amateurs. 

This morning, from 138 yards, Shirley hit a line drive well left of the green. It bounced off the walking path and sailed over the grassy knoll. Check out where he played his second: 

His ball landed on the green and, somehow, checked up pretty good to stay on the top shelf, about 15 feet from the hole. Shirley bogeyed and escaped what appeared to be imminent disaster.

'I couldn't see anything so there was no intimidation,' recalled Shirley. 'It was like I was in the backyard.'

Earlier, the 8:24 tee time of Vic Ferraris, Ken Downing and Gregg Smith arrived at the 17th tee to witness the group ahead of them having a rough go, to say the least: all three players had missed land with their first tee shot, one player needed three shots to reach the green and another player took seven drops before finding Land, Ho!

'You know you're in trouble when you're talking to the ball,' muttered Downing as he watched the carnage and accompanying pep talks to little white inanimate objects at the drop zone from the tee, which may have been of interest to any masters psychology students. Downing, despite seeing plenty of splooshes, still managed to hit his tee shot stiff.

Ferraris, however, missed with his first tee ball, but chose to reload on the tee.

'That drop area's disaster waiting to happen,' he said as he reloaded on the tee rather than walk up for the delicate wedge shot. He chose wisely, finding the green on his second.

The Stadium course does its thing

Pete and Alice Dye may be interested in how the Snead flight (handicaps 20 and above) fared on their creation in the opening round Tuesday. To sum it up, the back nine, and particularly the infamous island green, destroyed many competitors chances with three days to go. 

The first day ended with the flight averaging 7.67 on the 17th, which ended up being the toughest hole on the course, edging out No. 9, 11 and 16 (all par 5s). There were some 'outliers' to put it lightly on 17: 37 'others,' including a '32' and a '24'. In total, the Stadium claimed 433 'others,' more than there were birdies, pars, bogeys and double bogeys combined. The average score was 112.

Certified sports psychologists are standing by...

Getty Images

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."

Getty Images

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

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

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