Wishful Thinking

By Mercer BaggsAugust 17, 2009, 4:00 pm

 
KOOL AND THE YANG: Y.E. Yang won his first major title, defeating Tiger Woods head-to-head in the 91st PGA Championship. Yang became the first player ever to knock off Woods after he held at least a share of the 54-hole lead in a major.
 
Backspin Y.E. Yang. Not Phil Mickelson, not Ernie Els, not Vijay Singh, not David Duval back in the day, not any of those 20somethings. But Y.E. Yang. That's the guy who takes down Tiger in a major while looking him straight in the eyes. This could only happen in a state which elected a fake wrestler as a real governor.
 

 
THE MIGHTY HAVE FALLEN: As mentioned, Tiger Woods is no longer invincible when holding the 54-hole lead in a major. Up by two to start the final round, Woods bogeyed his final two holes Sunday to shoot 3-over 75 and finish three back of Yang.
 
Backspin Poor putting killed Tiger. In fact, he played rather suspiciously all weekend. After taking a four-shot lead after 36 holes, it seemed like he played conservatively, as if he figured no one would would be able to catch him so long as he didn't make any mistakes. It had always worked in the past, but this time he did make mistakes. And Yang caught him, passed him, and beat him.
 

 
THE WRONG WAY: Aside from Yang, who deservedly won the 91st PGA Championship, the final round was filled with players doing their best to avoid winning the tournament at all costs. Only 10 of the 79 players who made the cut shot under par Sunday, and that didn't include defending champion Padraig Harrington, U.S. Open winner Lucas Glover and three-time major champ Ernie Els ' all of whom missed a great chance to add to their major collections.
 
Backspin Aside from Yang's chip-in eagle at the par-4 14th and birdie at the last, the final round was so horrible I had to take my children to another room so they'd be able to sleep at night. 'Harold and Maude' wasn't that offensive. Ultimately, Yang was victorious. He deserved to win. Everyone else deserved to lose.
 

 
CRAZY EIGHTS: Padraig Harrington, vying for his second consecutive Wanamaker Trophy, was one shot back of Tiger Woods while playing the par-3 eighth Sunday. He then proceeded to make an 8 to fall out of contention. He finished his title defense shooting 78 to tie for 10th.
 
Backspin We saw something eerily similar to this just one week prior at the WGC-Bridgestone. But Harrington had a 'put-on-the-clock' excuse. There was no excuse for this. On a day filled with ugly golf, this was the Aunt Esther of them all.
 

 
THERE IN BODY, NOT MIND: Phil Mickelson opened with a pair of 74s and closed with a pair of 76s to finish 73rd at the PGA Championship, just his second event since the U.S. Open.
 
Backspin Mickelson wasn't sure when he would play again, saying that it would depend upon the timing of any medical procedures his wife Amy might need in her battle with breast cancer. That leaves his FedEx Cup and Presidents Cup participations up in the air. It was obvious at Hazeltine that Mickelson's mind wasn't focused solely on golf. As Cubs' fans say, 'Wait till next year.'
 

 
DROP IT LIKE IT'S SCOTT: As always in a major, some notable names weren't around for the weekend. This time the list included: John Daly, who withdrew; Sergio Garcia, who shot a Friday 78; Seve Stricker, who didn't make a birdie over 36 holes (I know this because I picked him to win and I'm a bitter man); Mike Weir, who carded a second-round 81; and Adam Scott, who finished 149th.
 
Backspin After shooting 82-79 this week, Scott admitted that he was on 'a break' from long-time instructor Butch Harmon. GolfChannel.com copy editor Dena Davis and I, however, place blame on his split from Kate Hudson. Scott was seen with the actress in Hawaii, where he tied for second at the Sony Open. Since then Hudson has moved on to Alex Rodriguez and Scott has been axed in nine of 12 Tour events with a 36-hole cut. This Kate Curse is the real deal. Her recent ex-boyfriends reportedly include actors Heath Ledger (deceased), Owen Wilson (tried to be deceased) and Dax Shepard (career deceased). Fortunately, I never have to worry about Hudson wanting to date me (though, I'm a bit scared just writing about her).
 

 
PRESS PASS: Pre-major press conferences are usually informative, and sometimes entertaining. Some of the highlights prior to the PGA: Tiger Woods said he would be able to beat the 2000 version of himself; Colin Montgomerie said he and Sandy Lyle talked and put behind them their dispute; and Stewart Cink told a funny story about picking up a hitchhiker.
 
Backspin One item that really stood out was Tiger's response to his temper and use of foul language on the course. 'It is what it is,' he said. Criticizing Woods for his temper would be hypocritical, because I'm not always on my best behavior while playing golf. But I hate that answer. That's lamer than Inspector Kemp's wooden arm. Woods said, 'I don't mean to; it just comes out.' Usually when people don't mean to do something, and then they do it, they apologize. 'It is what it is' sounds more defensive than apologetic.
 

 
THE PRESIDENTS MEN: The top 10 qualifiers were cemented for the United States and International Presidents Cup teams. Yang's win knocked Rory Sabbatini out of the final top 10, while the U.S. top 10 remained the same, with Lucas Glover moving to 11th. U.S. captain Fred Couples and International captain Greg Norman will select their two wildcards Sept. 8. Couples told GolfChannel.com's Randy Mell that Hunter Mahan is a lock for a pick and that the other likely choice would be Glover.
 
Backspin Compared to the Ryder Cup, the Presidents Cup receives the love of a stray cat. They could have discontinued the points process, had the captains meet in an undisclosed Alaskan igloo and pick 12 players each, and it would have received more publicity. In actuality, the Presidents Cup is an entertaining team event that fills a nice void at the end of the 'regular' season. It's just not the Ryder Cup. If the PGA Championship is 'Glory's Last Shot,' the Presidents Cup should be: 'The Presidents Cup ... it is what it is.'
 

 
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Tiger Woods refuted a report that said he was fined for his critical comments of referee John Paramor (above) after the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. ... The International Olympic Committees executive board recommended golf for submission into the 2016 Games.
 
Backspin Players/coaches in all sports should be allowed to criticize officials without monetary punishment. ... Y.E. Yang is the early favorite for gold.
 

 
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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.

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    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.

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    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.


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    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.


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