Grill Room: Following the Tiger crowd at Valhalla

By Jason CrookAugust 7, 2014, 4:55 pm

“Badges? We don’t need no stinkin’ badges!”

That was my response to the thought of an inside-the-ropes badge that would allow me to follow Tiger Woods’ group on Thursday at the PGA Championship. I write for the Grill Room, a real blue-collar blog, a blog for the people, by the people.

Rookie move. Here’s what I encountered when I found the marquee grouping on the 13th fairway on Thursday. Pretty, huh?


Despite being 10 rows deep at most times while following the greatest golfer of his generation, I wasn't going to get down. I love being in close, confined spaces with strange people I don't know. If you didn't pick up on the sarcasm font there, you need to get your computer screen checked.

Anyways, here are some of the highlights lowlights of my day with with Woods, Phil Mickelson, a few thousand of their biggest fans from Louisville, and Padraig Harrington, or “The Other Guy,” as they so politely referred to him.

On 14, Tiger missed the green to the left. A wife complained to her husband that she didn’t see the shot. His response, “Honey, you have to watch the ball flight.” You think? She looked like a nice lady, who didn’t want to cause a scene, but there’s a good chance that conversation will have a thrilling conclusion on their ride home tonight.

I couldn’t make it over to the 14th tee in time to watch the trio hit - something to do with the thousands of people in my way - so I stayed back near the 13th green, about 200 yards away. Phil was up and pulled a club. The guy behind me stated emphatically that it was his Phrankenwood. I shot a look back to see if he was a hawk eating a bag of carrots, or if the man was just full of it. I’ll let you decide which it was.

While walking to 16, two men engaged in a back and forth of, “Go Tiger!-Go Phil!” because of course they did. But it was at this point that I noticed a complete lack of “Mashed potatoes!” and "You da man's!” I smiled briefly.

There’s quite a logjam after 16 and we were stopped for several minutes. Being the man of the people that I am, I didn’t (visibly) mind being trapped inches from all of these strangers. The Best Comment of the Day Award goes to a couple of guys stuck in the pack with me.

“This is like being stuck in Walmart,” one said.

“On Christmas,” his friend responded.

These people ... are the best people.

While waiting for the threesome to tee off on 18, a marshal came running over with her hands up, reminding the gallery to be silent and stay still. The cameraman, whose camera she just butted in front of, obeyed her rules by quietly telling her to get out of his shot. She was not heard from again.

By the 18th green, Tiger fans had enough of the stink … from their fellow fans.

One man backed away from the crowd while Tiger was lining up his putt saying, “I ain’t getting up in that stinkin’ a** s*** up there!”

But by the first hole, this group’s 10th of the day, the fans had moved on to Woods’ game.

“I’ve seen Tiger hit three shots today, and two of them have been awful,” one man exclaimed after Woods’ shot ended up way left and in the thick stuff.

Tiger went on to make bogey. Joe Dirt was not deterred.

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I looked down, sweaty and gross, and oh so close to the media center. I decided that was enough for me. I would have to suffer through the rest of the round without the running commentary. 

I'm not exactly sure why anyone would choose to spend their day this way, but after just six holes, I've got to give some credit to Tiger Tracker. You're a better man than I am.

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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