Flawless Bae grabs early Sony lead with 63

By Will GrayJanuary 10, 2014, 2:22 am

The sun was shining and conditions were ideal for scoring Thursday as the Sony Open in Hawaii got underway at Waialae Country Club. Here's how things look after one round in Honolulu, where Sang-Moon Bae leads by one shot after a bogey-free opening round:

Leaderboard: Sang-Moon Bae (-7), Chris Kirk (-6), Brian Stuard (-5), Ryan Palmer (-5), Retief Goosen (-4), Harris English (-4), Jimmy Walker (-4), John Daly (-4), Hideto Tanihara (-4), Jason Kokrak (-4), Daniel Summerhays (-4)

What it means: A winner last year at the HP Byron Nelson Championship, Bae has yet to record a top-10 finish on the PGA Tour since his breakthrough victory in May. He's in position to break out of that drought this week at Waialae, though, and leads through 18 holes over another 2013 winner in Kirk.

Round of the day: The South Korean started quickly Thursday, as Bae carded birdies on three of his first four holes en route to an outward nine of 5-under 30. He added a pair of birdies on the back nine to reach 7 under and recorded the day's lowest score after reaching 16 of 18 greens in regulation amid the tight confines of Waialae.

Best of the rest: Having claimed the McGladrey Classic in November, Kirk already has a win under his belt this season, but he's in contention for another title after opening Thursday with a 6-under 64. Kirk started slowly and actually stood on the eighth tee at 2 over before salvaging his round in short order. The 28-year-old birdied four of the next five holes and then ended with a flurry after birdies on Nos. 15 and 16 were followed by an eagle on the home hole.

Biggest disappointment: One year ago, Russell Henley turned his first start as a PGA Tour member into a memorable win at Waialae, but a defense of his title is now unlikely. Henley, who missed the Wednesday pro-am due to illness, saw his round derailed by back-to-back double bogeys at Nos. 10 and 11 and now will have difficulty making the 36-hole cut after opening with a 3-over 73.

Main storyline heading into Friday: After a mediocre finish to his 2013 season, the onus will be on Bae to remain out in front after his bogey-free start. Among the names closest to him, though, attention will certainly be paid to Daly, a two-time major winner who opened with a 66 Thursday and is in search of his first top-25 finish since the 2012 PGA Championship.

Shot of the day: Kirk came to the reachable par-5 18th with a good round already secured, but his accurate approach made dinner taste that much better. Standing 244 yards away in the final fairway, Kirk carved a second shot that rolled to within 15 feet of the hole. The subsequent putt was holed for eagle, giving the two-time PGA Tour winner a 6-under 64 after playing his final four holes in 4 under.

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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