A Controversial Week in Golf

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 1, 2008, 4:00 pm
In Backspin, GolfChannel.com takes a look back on the biggest stories from the past week in golf ' with a spin.
MY TEAM, MY PICKS: European captain Nick Faldo surprised many Sunday when he finalized his team by skipping over Darren Clarke in favor of Ian Poulter and Paul Casey for his two Ryder Cup wildcards.
Backspin The real surprise is: Why would anyone be surprised? Faldo gets his kicks on chapping everyone elses hides. He loves to show that hes in control, even if it could be to his detriment. Clarke deserved the spot, but Poulter got it. If Europe wins again, it wont matter. However, if they dont

END OF AN ERA?: Also left off the European team was Colin Montgomerie. The Scot, who has a 20-9-7 career Ryder Cup record, was not selected by Faldo, and did not qualify on his own merit, thus ending his streak of eight consecutive Cup appearances.
Backspin Monty is a smart man, and given his history with Faldo he had to know that he stood no chance of being called. Faldo could have had 12 picks to form his team and Monty might not have gotten one. To add a bit of insult to injury, Faldo felt the need to take a swipe at Montgomerie at his press conference Sunday, saying he was watching football or shopping when asked if Faldo had tried to contact Montgomerie to give him the bad news. Classy.

ENGLISH STANDARD: The big news early last week came out of the LPGA camp, where it was reported by Golfweek that the tour was going to require all of its current members to be proficient in the English language by the end of 2009. Players will have to pass an oral evaluation or face possible suspension.
Backspin As expected, this set off quite a firestorm. In an online poll, GolfChannel.com readers believed 57% to 43% that this was a necessary step for the LPGA to take, given the dominance of the South Korean players recently. Were not disagreeing; in fact, it makes business sense. But even Count von Count couldnt reel off the number of things wrong with the way Carolyn Bivens and company went about things: 1) Why did the LPGA invite only Korean players, and not all international players, to their initial meeting to reveal its plan. 2) What are the parameters of the oral evaluation? 3) Why suspend a player who has the talent to compete (and probably win) on tour instead of fining them? 4) What happens to someone with speech impairment should she earn her card? What if Nell could play golf?

SHOW ME THE MONEY: Tiger Woods was in Dubai on Monday, saying that he wasnt sure if he would be able to return to defend his title in early 2009, but that his $1.1 billion golf course project was right on track. He then flew back to the States to host a release party for his Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09.
Backspin The projects chief, Abdulla Al Grug, wouldnt say how much Woods is being paid for lending his name and ideas to this plan, but it probably includes fuel costs to and from Dubai. Seriously, how much is Tiger Woods really worth right now? Does he even know how much money he has? Where does he keep it all? If Tiger gave every person who read this weeks feature $10,000 he wouldnt even miss it. If we, the Backspin, gave everyone who read this weeks feature 10 cents we wouldnt be able to eat for a month.

WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON?: Ben Curtis will have a new caddie on his bag for the Ryder Cup. Veteran looper Tony Navarro, who has worked for Greg Norman and most recently Adam Scott, will get his first taste of the biennial competition since 1987.
Backspin Curtis regular caddie, Englishman Andrew Sutton, said his loyalty was with his countrymen (and continentals) and not his employer. Said Navarro: Im sure I would have caddied for my player. I want the person I am caddying for to win every match. Navarro has twice caddied for Raymond Floyd and once for Ben Crenshaw in the Ryder Cup. Unfortunately for the U.S., the Yanks have a 0-2-1 record when he participates.

PICKING ON POULTER: Prior to Nick Faldo revealing his captain's picks, there was a bunch of verbal sparring going on between the hopefuls. England's Nick Dougherty accused countryman Poulter of knowing that he had already secured a selection when Poulter opted to skip the Johnnie Walker and compete in the Deutsche Bank Championship, all-but guaranteeing that he would not qualify for the team. Montgomerie then said Poulter had a 'hotline' to Faldo, which really rubbed the latter the wrong way.
Backspin Poulter railed on Monty and Dougherty ' and the media ' after missing the cut in Boston. He blamed all the negativity on his poor play. 'I'm sick and tired of all this nonsense,' he said. Hey, Ian, look at the bright side: you're the big winner because you got the nod over both your detractors ' and thanks to the Deutsche Bank being your 15th PGA TOUR event of the season, you don't have to play in the Fall Series in order to secure your membership.
DON'T FORGET ME: Amidst all the Ryder Cup talk in Scotland, Gregory Havret walked away with the Johnnie Walker Championship title, defeating Graeme Storm by one stroke.
Backspin Also not to be overlooked are the performances by Justin Rose, Soren Hansen and Oliver Wilson. All three men were in jeopardy of losing their automatic spots on the European Ryder Cup team entering the week, and all three men did enough to earn a trip to Valhalla for their first Cup experience.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: U.S. Amateur champion Danny Lee said he intends to stay an amateur in order to play in the 2009 Masters, U.S. Open and Open Championship Sergio Garcia, taking advantage of the Deutsche Banks Friday start, played some tennis with French Open and Wimbledon champion Rafael Nadal at the U.S. Open Adam Scotts lingering health problems may lead to getting his tonsils removed when he returns to Australia Jeff Sluman won the Wal-Mart First Tee Open at Pebble Beach by five strokes.
Backspin I got to play those major tournaments before I die, Lee said Nadal has won five Grand Slam titles, including four at the French. If they ever play golf on clay, watch out for Sergio! Lets hope the surgery doesnt affect his speech or he may never get to play on the LPGA Even if its on the Champions Tour and not on the PGA TOUR, winning at Pebble is really cool.
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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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    Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

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    Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

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    Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

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    Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

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    Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

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    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