LPGA back on American soil

By Tom AbbottMarch 13, 2012, 11:27 pm

Phoenix, Ariz. - For those of us at the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup, it feels like the start of a new season.

This is the first LPGA event on American soil this season, but event No. 4 on the schedule. Trips to Australia, Thailand and Singapore have already been completed, producing a variety of winners, including youngster Jessica Korda, the world No. 1 Yani Tseng and the experienced campaigner Angela Stanford.

Now the meat of the season begins with the tour’s first full-field event, giving us a chance to look ahead at what the season holds.

First on the agenda is Yani Tseng,  the clear world No. 1 who has already made a dent in 2012 with her successful defense at the Honda LPGA Thailand.  She is clearly the player to beat on tour and the task of unsettling her from the perch is enormous. Her closest challenger in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings is Na Yeon Choi, with five top-5 finishes in her last seven starts.

Choi could provide some competition to Tseng but it’ll be a tough task. The same can be said for Suzann Pettersen, the world No. 3, who won three times in 2011. But a sluggish start to the season will not provoke fear in Tseng. Pettersen has a new bagman this season, the experienced Terry McNamara - a 30-year veteran of the caddie ranks who guided Annika Sorenstam through her glory years. Will that be the catalyst for the Norwegian who most feel has failed to live-up to her huge potential?

The American challenge will be lead by Cristie Kerr, Paula Creamer and Lexi Thompson. At only 17, Thompson is providing by far the most excitement in the homegrown ranks with two victories in the last six months. Had she been a member in 2011, Lexi would have lead the tour’s driving distance category. Her raw power coupled with fearless youth is a killer combination. Kerr and Creamer were surprisingly winless in 2011, the chance of that happening in 2012 is almost unthinkable, not only for the media but surely by themselves.

This week also marks the chance us to meet the rookies. Those graduating from Q-School and the Symetra Tour have picked a bad year to set their sights on the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year honor. Thompson begins her first season as an LPGA member, as does last year’s U.S. Women’s Open champion So Yeon Ryu. The leading money winner on the 2011 Symetra Tour, Kathleen Ekey could provide a surprise package and will surely win some admirers during her 2012 campaign. Argentine youngster Victoria Tanco is also one to watch.

On a broader scale, there is certainly a sense this week that the LPGA has turned the corner. Commissioner Mike Whan has settled into his role, building a solid backroom staff who have been instrumental in adding new events in Hawaii, Canada and Virginia. The tour has a worldwide star in Tseng, whose talent seems endless. She’s grasping the English language and is working hard to build her profile in the U.S., even taking time to appear on the upcoming ‘Big Break Atlantis,’ one of numerous media outings she’s completed in the last few months.

Last but not least there’s Michelle Wie, who finishes her studies at Stanford this month and can now focus full time on her golfing career. Wie still has the ‘x-factor’ that draws galleries, television viewers and new fans to the LPGA, but her presence on the tour is slowly dwindling. With college behind, her she has the chance this year to right the ship.

Golf Channel  kicks off the season with four days of live coverage beginning Thursday in Phoenix, something you’ll see more of in 2012 as we try to scale back of tape-delayed broadcasts. We hope you can join us for what will we hope but a memorable season.

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 Web.com 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.