Controversy Anger Lots of Talk

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 14, 2008, 5:00 pm
Editor's Note: In Backspin, the editorial staff takes a look back on the biggest stories from the past week in golf -- with a spin.
GOING ISLAND HOPPING: K.J. Choi led wire-to-wire to capture this week's Sony Open in Hawaii. Choi just held on for victory Sunday at the Waialae Country Club with a 1-over 71, good enough for a 14-under-par 266. Rory Sabbatini made a run late, but eventually fell short at 11 under.
Backspin The PGA TOUR is officially underway after this week's first full-field event, and we couldn't be more excited. It was another great week of golf with another exciting finish. Sabbatini almost let his clubs do his talking for him, getting within two shots late, but couldn't close as the ever steady Choi won for the fifth straight time leading after 54 holes.
CUT CONTROVERSY: The PGA TOUR has changed the way the cut line works. The new policy allows for top 70 and ties, but when the number of players who make the cut exceeds 78 players, only the closest number to 70 players return for the final two rounds. In this week's case, 69 players finished at 1 under and 18 players were sent home early with $9,699 in official money, 46 points toward the FedExCup, but no tee time for the weekend.
BackspinMany of the players were unaware that the rule had even been changed. John Daly was particularly unhappy being sent home after 'making' the cut. Daly said, 'I don't understand the rule. I grinded my butt off to shoot even. Then I find out on 18 you may not be playing. I just wish we would have known.' The thing is, they did know ... or should have known. The TOUR doesn't just make rules changes in secret. Players just don't take the time to pay attention to what is being said.
KELLY TILGHMAN: Wed be remiss if we at Backspin didnt include the hottest story of this past week, Kelly Tilghmans comments concerning Tiger Woods and her subsequent two-week suspension from GOLF CHANNEL. Tilghman made the gaffe while chatting with co-host Nick Faldo on how the younger set could compete with Woods.
Backspin Public reaction was slow to develop, but eventually spread like wildfire. News agencies, far removed from the golf world, weighed in on the story. Viewer reaction varied from those extremely supportive of Tilghman to those penning grossly offensive remarks. Tigers people called it a non-issue. Well see if the embers languish after the flames die down.
THE NEXT TIGER WOODS? Japanese star Ryo Ishikawa turned professional this past week at the age of 16. Ishikawa became the youngest player to ever win on the Japan PGA Tour, doing so as an amateur last May.
Backspin So who cares, right? Well, when you are called your countrys Tiger Woods, it tends to draw attention ' especially when you consider the inevitable boon of Japanese golf. Ishikawa may want to talk to Ai Miyazato, who is one of Japans top-3 athlete/celebrities. Miyazato was bigger than Godzilla when she left Japan for the LPGA Tour, but, despite routing the field in the 2005 Q-school, she has yet to win in the U.S. The bigger the bowl, the easier it is to drown. Also, does this mean there is a Tiger Woods in every country ' a Lithuanian Tiger, a Sri Lankan Tiger, a Turkish Tiger?
CHALLENGING TIGER?: 19-year-old Australian Jason Day thinks he's ready to challenge the world's no. 1. Said Day, 'I'm sure I can take [Tiger] down.' The PGA TOUR's youngest player is full of cofidence and talent, making the cut in five out of the seven TOUR events he played last year. His best finish was a tie for 11th at the Reno-Tahoe Open, and he was the youngest player to win a Nationwide Tour event.
Backspin Maybe Jason Day should ask Rory Sabbatini or Stephen Ames how giving Tiger Woods bulletin board material worked out for them. Maybe Day should let his clubs do the talking, at least at first, because the last thing we'd want is to give the best golfer on the planet any motivation to play better against us. For the record, Day made as much money playing this week's Sony Open as did Tiger.
HARMON TELLS DALY TO SHAPE UP: There was a lot of talk in the off-season of John Daly working with swing coach extraordinaire Butch Harmon. But as reported by our own Brian Hewitt, when it came time for the two to start working, Harmon told Daly he needs a comitment. If Daly wants to work with him, he's going to need to recommit himself to the game of golf both on and off the course.
Backspin After falling off the earth in terms of world rankings, 525, Harmon is right. If Daly wants to work with the best, he's going to have to give his best effort. It is easy to forget that Daly has two major championships to his name, but we're all for a re-energized John Daly. But is Daly up for it?
SABBATINI vs. WOODS: The Rory Sabbatini-Tiger Woods controversy heated up once again this past week when Tigers camp told Insider Brian Hewitt that if Sabbatini should qualify for this years Target World Challenge, We would certainly encourage him not to accept his invitation.
BackspinThe issue stems from Sabbatini dropping out of Decembers Target, Tigers limited, personal event, before the final round. Sabbatini and his people gave multiple excuses as to why he up and ran, but apparently none were satisfactory for Woods. This wasnt the first time the two butted heads and it likely wont be the last. If Tiger cant have a rival on the course, at least hes got one in the media; though, Sabbatinis New Years resolution appears to be: become a Mime who plays golf.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Big Break VII: Reunion champion Tommy Gainey made his debut as a card-carrying member of the PGA TOUR at the Sony Open; Todd Demsey made his first start as an official TOUR member in over 10 years in Hawaii; The European Tour picked up on its 2008 season with its first tournament in the calender year. Richard Sterne birdied the second hole of a three-man playoff to win the Joburg Open in South Africa.
Backspin Gainey made the cut in Hawaii - but missed it, too. He was a part of the group at even par, who made some money, but didn't get to play over the weekend; Assuming Steve Stricker wont win Comeback Player of the Year for a third straight season, Demsey is the early favorite for the award. He was sidelined for a spell due to misdiagnosed back problems and a golf ball-sized tumor in his brain; the Euro Tour's quiet start to '08 didn't keep from an exciting finish as Sterne walked away with the victory in his native South Africa.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Sony Open in Hawaii
  • The Japanese 'Tiger'?
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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