Reflection and anticipation from The Players to Colonial

By Brandel ChambleeMay 18, 2011, 8:46 pm

As I ruminate about The Players Championship, it occurs to me that it’s stuck between the Masters and the U.S. Open and, like a middle child, it is searching for an identity.

Some call it a major but it’s only a major if you have to park in a dusty or muddy field and fight for a spot on a shuttle bus with other frazzled, disheveled media types who all want to be Dan Jenkins.

It is only a major if, in fact, you see Dan Jenkins in the media center and while pondering some pithy comment about Ben Hogan to engage him, he passes by eating an ice cream and you, the obtuse wannabe journalist, realize that you are, in fact, a twit.

It’s only a major if those running the event react to someone on a cell phone as if they were standing before the Last Supper with a can of spray paint. So what is The Players if not a major?

It is a 37-year-old event that every year gives us a gut full of drama with one of the year’s best fields on a course that is more gauntlet than golf. While some events on Tour and even a few majors have the appeal of cold grease, The Players is like a soap opera on Telemundo. It’s a head-jerking, eye-popping, four-day gladiatorial contest between millionaires in snappy clothes and Pete Dye with a little help from his wife Alice.

This year’s Players did not disappoint, even if curmudgeonly critics say that the combatants in the playoff had all the appeal of a kazoo horn at Easter service. I thoroughly enjoyed the week and now three days removed from the Tour’s biggest event, I am back in my home state for the Colonial, the tournament that meant the most to me growing up.

Started in 1946, no other course has hosted a non-major longer than Colonial Country Club, though far easier now then when it was designed, is still a favorite amongst players for its antique feel and for the history that lingers in the air.

Ben Hogan won the event the inaugural year and four more times after that with his last coming in 1959. Zach Johnson won last year with a score of 259, some 20 strokes lower than the average score that it took to win there in the ‘60s, and in the process set a record that is sure to stand for some time.

This year’s field is full of stars and storylines, like Sergio Garcia, Jim Furyk, David Toms, Davis Love, Hunter Mahan, Paul Goydos, Rickie Fowler and Vijay Singh – just to name a few – but perhaps the best story coming into the week is Jason Day.

This young man who won the Byron Nelson last year and finished second in the Masters and sixth at The Players this year is a member at Colonial and has agreed to wear a microphone for Golf Channel during the first round. Having just left an era where the game’s best players were not always willing to cooperate with the requests of TV, more and more players are opening up in the media center and being more animated on the course.

Perhaps it’s the social media age we find ourselves in or perhaps it’s that the Tour has done a very good job of communicating the need to help us tell their stories. Regardless, the bottom line is that you, the viewer, get a better look at the players.

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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
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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.