Sorenstams Shockwave

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 19, 2008, 4:00 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.
SAY IT AIN'T SO...: In a press conference last Tuesday, Annika Sorenstam announced that she would be retiring at the end of the 2008 season. Widely regarded as the greatest women's golfer of all-time, the Hall of Famer's resume includes 72 LPGA Tour victories to date, including 10 majors and the career grand slam.
BackspinIt was a shocking announcement from the 37-year-old Swede, who stated she is looking forward to focusing more on her business and personal life. Yes, it would have been great to see Annika battle with Lorena for a few more years, but she is leaving on her terms - something very few athletes get to do. On the bright side, she won't be retired until the end of the season, so enjoy her while you still can. We sure will.

...AND BACK TO THE GOLF COURSE: World No. 1 Lorena Ochoa won her sixth title of the year Sunday, firing a 1-under par 71 to capture the LPGA Sybase Classic for the third consecutive year. Bad weather shortened play to just 54 holes, as Ochoa had to grind out the victory, winning by just one stroke over five other players.
Backspin In a week that began with all the talk focused on Sorenstam's retirement, the 26-year-old Mexican star stole back the spotlight. Last week in this space, we said the ball was in Lorena's court, and Ochoa responded by topping Sorenstam by five strokes, cementing her spot atop the women's game just when Annika looked to be building momentum. Expect this back-and-forth battle between these two superstars to only get better as summer rolls on.

A WIN IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE: Ryuji Imada grabbed his first PGA TOUR victory in a playoff Sunday at the AT&T Classic, after Kenny Perry found the water on the 73rd hole of play. The 32-year-old Imada has been a runner-up three times on the PGA TOUR, including twice already this season and once at this very event a year ago when he found the water in sudden death.
Backspin It had to feel good to grab his first TOUR win in the same state he attended college. The University of Georgia alum was perhaps most excited afterwards, knowing the win would bring an invite to an even more prestigious tournament held in Georgia each spring, saying, 'I know I get invited to the Masters now. I always dreamed of playing there since I was a kid. I cant wait to see what its like.' Two childhood dreams realized in one day - not bad.

PLAYERS HANGOVER: It was a relatively quiet week on the PGA TOUR. Just one week removed from THE PLAYERS Championship, many of the big names in golf took the week off. The highest ranked player in the AT&T Classic field this past week was 15th-ranked Stewart Cink.
Backspin Despite the lack of the 'big names,' the weekend was not lacking in interesting storylines. Fan favorites like Camilo Villegas and Kenny Perry were in contention late; there was even a Shark sighting, as Greg Norman made a rare PGA TOUR start (missed the cut, though, after an opening-round 80); heck, even Matt Kuchar made an appearance on the leaderboard with a T-25 finish. That said, we eagerly anticipate the return of some star power. Like say, I guy named Lefty this week.

BEAN THERE, DONE THAT: Andy Bean, winless since the 2006 season on the Champions Tour, hung on for victory at the Regions Charity Classic in Alabama. Loren Roberts finished just one stroke back.
Backspin Bean's win, while newsworthy, was just an appetizer for this week's Senior PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y. Some of the top names on the senior circuit - Bernhard Langer, Scott Hoch, Tom Watson, Fred Funk - have already won this season and should provide for a great start for the first major of the year on the Champions Tour.

BEAM ME UP!: David Mathis claimed the Nationwide Tour's BMW Charity Pro-Am in Greer, S.C., winning by three strokes over Roger Tambellini. It was the 34-year-old Mathis' first Nationwide Tour title.
Backspin At one of the more noteworthy events on the Nationwide Tour, Mathis' victory - along with the $121,500 first-place check - all but guarantees his PGA TOUR card for next season. Said the obviously thrilled Mathis, 'It's awesome. Man, I'm just so thankful.' Oh, and he also picked up the keys to a brand new BMW X5.

ANTE UP: Next year's World Series of Golf, to be held in Las Vegas, will have a $200,000 entry fee, with a $1.5 million payout for the winner.
Backspin This event evokes images of the closing scene from the classic golf flick Caddyshack. No word yet on whether or not they will hold the tournament at Bushwood Country Club or if Ty Webb, Al Czervik, Danny Noonan or Judge Smails will be entering the field.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: A fellow by the name of Wayne Gretzky won the pro-am portion of the BMW Charity Pro-Am, partnering with professional Chris Nallen to shoot scores of 59-59-60-62; The USGA announced another corporate partnership - the fourth it has signed in the past 18 months, after going 113 years without one.
Backspin You would think this would be big news in the Gretzky household, but hardly. The Great One's wife, Janet Jones-Gretzky, has already been the low celebrity in this event - twice!; Pete Bevacqua, the USGA's chief business officer, vowed, however, the following, 'When you walk on site (Torrey Pines), it is pure. It is logo-free, other than the USGA logo and our championship logo.

Related Links:
  • Sorenstam: 'I'm Stepping Away'
  • Full Coverage - AT&T Classic
  • Full Coverage - Sybase Classic
  • More Headlines
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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