College Adviser: Amer Ari features stacked field

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 6, 2013, 5:34 pm

The spring college season begins in earnest Wednesday with the Amer Ari Invitational, which features seven of the top 15 teams (and nine of the top 25) in the country. Chief among them is defending NCAA champion and No. 2-ranked Texas, which no longer can turn to Jordan Spieth (turned pro) or, apparently, highly prized recruit Beau Hossler, who is sitting out the spring to get acclimated to college life. 

But the Longhorns aren’t the only team to watch this week at the Waikoloa Kings’ Course in Hawaii, what with fellow top-10 teams UCLA (No. 4), Washington (No. 7), Georgia Tech (No. 8) and USC (No. 9) also looking to knock off the rust and improve their ranking. The three-round event ends Friday.

No doubt, the best team in the country thus far has been top-ranked Cal, which won its first five starts of the season before a third-place finish last week in Arizona. But Washington may be the team best positioned to challenge the Golden Bears. 

After an impressive fall campaign, the Huskies became just the third team ever to produce three players on the Hogan Award watch list. Senior Chris Williams is the No. 1-ranked amateur in the world, and he’s finally healthy after a months-long bout with mononucleosis during the fall. In the offseason, he represented the U.S. at both the World Amateur Championship in Turkey and the Copas de las Americas event.

Sophomore Cheng-Tsung Pan was the top-ranked college player in the fall, according to Golfstat, compiling a head-to-head record of 271-4-10 and finishing no worse than third in four college starts. Trevor Simsby, a junior, was eighth in the country after the fall on the strength of three top-5 finishes, including a victory at the Pac 12 Preview.

Don’t be surprised if either Washington or UCLA emerge with a victory this week.

What else happened on campus this week?

On Sunday, North Florida senior Sean Dale shot a final-round 69 to rally from four shots back to win the Jones Cup, one of the most prestigious events on the amateur schedule. The 23-year-old didn’t play for the Ospreys in the fall as he pursued a PGA Tour card via Q-School; he failed to advance past second stage. Alabama junior Cory Whitsett began the final round of the Jones Cup with a three-shot lead, but a closing 75 dropped him into a share of second.

Fresno State coach Mike Watney – the uncle of PGA Tour player Nick Watney – will retire this spring after 35 years at the helm of the Bulldogs’ program. Watney, 62, was inducted into the Golf Coaches Association of America Hall of Fame in 2007.

Tennessee senior Rick Lamb won his second consecutive start Tuesday with a wire-to-wire, six-shot victory at the SeaBest Invitational. He also propelled the Volunteers to the team title, their first of the season, as they edged Texas A&M by four shots on the Players Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass.

Here are the top 10 men’s teams in the country, as ranked by Golfstat (click here for the full rankings):

1. California: Next event is Feb. 20-22 John Burns Intercollegiate 

2. Texas: Starts spring season at this week’s Amer Ari Invitational

3. Florida: Starts spring season at Gator Invitational (home event), which begins Saturday 

4. UCLA: Starts spring season at this week’s Amer Ari Invitational 

5. New Mexico: Next event is Feb. 20-22 John Burns Intercollegiate 

6. Alabama: Starts spring season at Feb. 17-19 Puerto Rico Classic 

7. Washington: Starts spring season at this week’s Amer Ari Invitational 

8. Georgia Tech: Starts spring season at this week’s Amer Ari Invitational 

9. USC: Starts spring season at this week’s Amer Ari Invitational 

10. Georgia: Starts spring season at Feb. 17-19 Puerto Rico Classic

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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