Golf Channel Am Tour Senior National Championships: Let the games begin

By Brandon TuckerSeptember 4, 2012, 3:13 am

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – On the eve of the Golf Channel Am Tour Senior National Championships, David Feherty addressed the competitors at the Sawgrass Marriott Resort with a little pep talk:

'The tournament starts tomorrow but I just want to you know this,' said Feherty. 'This is golf. You're meant to suck, and you will suck this week.'

Not exactly 'Win one for the Gipper' in front of a packed house ready to go into battle. But maybe Feherty's logic was to hammer home to the participants that staying loose is probably the best way to succeed this week. After all, this will be the toughest Am Tour Nationals to win in history, with a record attendance of 500 competitors in the Senior division split up into six flights. 640 more participants will come to Sawgrass next week for the Under 50 National Championship.

A day after flying home from Ireland to cover the Notre Dame-Navy game in Dublin, Feherty was on hand to give thanks to the Am Tour for a charitable donation of over $63,140 to Feherty's Troops First Foundation, a charity supporting wounded veterans. The money was raised through 50/50 raffles at Am Tour major championships throughout the season. Tonight, Am Tour announced that the charity will be the official charity of the tour for 2013, as well.

With a colorful speech from Feherty and happy hour pleasantries exchanged amongst attendees, the attention now turns to golf, where the stakes are high. Winners of each flight will receive a Golf Galaxy gift card between $500-750, a lifetime exemption into the national tournament and a prized piece of crystal for their mantels back home.


Going back to a happy place

Three competitors should be especially confident in their chances this week at the Golf Channel Am Tour Senior National Tournament: John Damron, Ravi Kannan and Brad Polhemus.

What do they have in common? Each won the Golf Channel Am Tour's TPC Sawgrass Open two-day major tournament held back in January. Each hope to call on some positive vibes from the Pete Dye-designed Valley and Stadium courses to go along with rounds on the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club Ocean and Lagoon courses in the four-day event. Dye designs, after all, toy with the mind, both pro and amateur, unlike any other architect.

Polhemus, 51, has enjoyed a five-win campaign in 2012 and will compete at Nationals in the Sr. Palmer flight (4.0-7.9 hcp).

Kannan, 60, won the Sr. Hogan flight in a playoff over Mark Milman. Milman is back at Sawgrass himself, hoping for redemption but was bumped up a flight to the Sr. Palmer after a strong campaign that included two Am Tour victories (4.0-7.9 hcp).

While Kannan and Polhemus reside in the southeast, Damron, 65 made the journey from Columbus, Ohio. He decided to come to Sawgrass for the same reasons that thousands of golfers do each year: the infamous island green. 'I like playing good golf courses,' he said. 'And I always wanted to play No. 17. I'd been playing it on PlayStation.'

The 20-handicapper, competing in the Sr. Snead flight, admits that during the event Pete Dye got the best of him a few times. But the defining moment in his victory was sweet. The action was tight within his threesome, until on the 17th, his two playing partners found the water, while Damron landed safely on the green for a routine par.

'That was the deciding hole,' recalled Damron. His major win at Sawgrass was his only victory of the Am Tour season, so he better summon his happy thoughts on the Stadium Course quickly. His flight opens on the back nine of the Stadium Course in Round One Tuesday.

17th at Sawgrass

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
Getty Images

Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

Well, this is a one new one.

According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.

PGA Tour suspends Hensby for anti-doping violation

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 8:02 pm

Mark Hensby has been suspended for one year by the PGA Tour for violating the Tour’s anti-doping policy by failing to provide a sample after notification.

The Tour made the announcement Monday, reporting that Hensby will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

The statement reads:

The PGA Tour announced today that Mark Hensby has violated the Tour Anti-Doping Policy for failing to provide a drug testing sample after notification and has been suspended for a period of one year. He will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

Hensby, 46, won the John Deere Classic in 2004. He played the Tour this past year, playing just 14 events. He finished 142nd on the money list. He once ranked among the top 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking but ranks No. 1,623 today.

The Sunshine Tour recently suspended player Etienne Bond for one year for failing a drug test. Players previously suspended by the PGA Tour for violating the anti-doping policy include Scott Stallings and Doug Barron.

The PGA Tour implemented revisions to its anti-doping program with the start of the 2017-18 season. The revisions include blood testing and the supplementation of the Tour’s prohibited list to include all of the substances and methods on the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited list. As part of this season’s revisions, the Tour announced it would also begin reporting suspensions due to recreational drug use.

The Tour said it would not issue further comment on Hensby's suspension.