Which player will win his first major in 2012?

By Jason SobelJanuary 6, 2012, 1:18 pm

Who's the current best player to have never won a major? There's no shortage of candidates, as the current top 10 in the World Golf Ranking includes seven major-less players. Golfchannel.com's senior writers offer their predictions of which otherwise distinguished player will finally add a major to his resume in 2012.

By JASON SOBEL

Best Player To Have Never Won A Major. It’s a hell of a label, the ultimate backhanded compliment. It’s one part badge of honor, one part pang of regret.

Just ask Phil Mickelson. Dude wore that BPTHNWAM label for so long, he might as well have had it sewn into his underwear.

If there’s a saving grace for the current BPTHNWAM crew, it’s that there’s company in their misery. No longer does a single player wear that label; it’s now shared by the likes of Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Steve Stricker and Dustin Johnson, though in reality the first two on that list may own majority shares.

Instead, I’m going with another big name to be the first to win his first in 2012. I think this is finally the year for Sergio Garcia.

Just in the past year, the formerly petulant Garcia has matured not only emotionally, but technically, brandishing a putting stroke that now looks worthy of major championship hardware.

He’s right on the verge, too. Last year he made the cut in all four of ‘em and posted top-12 results in the final three. He has now been knocking on the door for more than a dozen years. That’s often seen as a sign of failure, but as Padraig Harrington so often attested after winning three major titles, getting that experience only enhances a player’s chances the next time he’s in that situation.

It’s certainly possible that Donald, Westwood or any of the five other non-major winners in the world’s current top 10 could win one this year. I’ll take Garcia, though – and with it, expect a jump into that top 10, too.


Luke Donald

By REX HOGGARD

Some observers figure that Luke Donald, despite his current 24-month tear that has lifted him to No. 1 in the World Golf Ranking and money titles on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, doesn’t have the game or the gumption to win a major championship. Some observers are wrong.

His critics point to his pedestrian record in Grand Slam events, 34 starts and just six top 10s, and a long game that is neither long, at least by professional standards, nor terribly straight. But if the last two years have taught us anything it is that bomb and gouge is overrated.

If Augusta National is the game’s ultimate putting contest, the other three majors are, at the least, a relay race with a short game anchor, and no one in golf is bobbing and weaving as well as Donald right now.

He finished 2011 first in the PGA Tour’s new strokes gained-putting category, eighth in scrambling and third in one-putt percentage.

Donald also has the experience to be this season’s major breakthrough performer. He had his best year in the majors in 2011 with top-10 finishes in both the PGA Championship and Masters, and he pulled to within one stroke of Tiger Woods at the ’06 PGA before going flat on the back nine.

Maybe Donald doesn’t scream “major champion,” but he is currently the game’s most complete player and the most likely to crack the Grand Slam ceiling this season.


Dustin Johnson

By JAY COFFIN

There have been too many close calls in majors in a relatively short PGA Tour career, but this is the year the golf gods pay back Dustin Johnson with a major championship.

Truth is, there are numerous candidates that could be selected to get off the major schneid – Luke Donald, Nick Watney, Lee Westwood, K.J. Choi, Matt Kuchar, Steve Stricker and Adam Scott immediately come to mind. Jason Day, Hunter Mahan, Bubba Watson and Justin Rose could be thrown in there as well I suppose.

Johnson, however, has more talent than anyone in the aforementioned group. He has a lot of what it takes to win majors now, but needs to putt better in pressure moments and he needs to become mentally tougher when things get going sideways.

The stats from 2011 tell us what Johnson does and doesn’t do well. He was third on Tour in driving distance but 147th in driving accuracy. He was 27th in greens hit in regulation but was 171st in strokes gained putting, a stat no one understands but anyone can figure out that ranking No. 171 won’t cut it for a world-class player.

Johnson has five PGA Tour victories and four top-10 finishes in major championships in his four-year PGA Tour career. This is the year he’ll collect the one that counts most.

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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