Weekly 18 - Race against the clock

By Jason SobelJanuary 23, 2012, 3:02 pm

Mark Wilson isn’t very intimidating. At  5-foot-8, 145 pounds and with a perma-smile attached to his face, he doesn’t exactly look like a guy who will cut your heart out on the course.

If you ever needed further proof he isn’t the stone-cold, steely-eyed killer type, it came on the 18th tee box Sunday afternoon at the Humana Challenge. With a one-stroke advantage, he stood there laughing and talking to his playing partners about – believe it or not – mashed potatoes.

And in case you couldn’t guess, he isn’t exactly a bomber, either. At one point on the back nine, he covered 117 yards with a pitching wedge, then hit the same club a mere 112 just a few minutes later as the temperature started dropping.

No, Wilson isn’t a lot of things, but what he is, is a really, really good closer, as evidenced once again in the desert, where he won his third PGA Tour title in the past 13 months.

This week’s edition of the Weekly 18 examines Wilson’s win and plenty more around the world of golf.


1. On the Mark

The question was a joke, really. Just a little icebreaker to kick off a phone interview.

Mark Wilson had just won last year’s Waste Management Phoenix Open, his second victory in his first three starts of the season, coupling with a Sony Open title that sandwiched a T-61 at the Bob Hope Classic.

Sure, we were going to chat about how everything was going right for him, how his career as a journeyman had seen a metamorphosis in less than a month. First, though, I threw him a friendly curveball and asked what went wrong in the desert to prevent a three-for-three start to the season.

Wilson laughed, then explained that he felt he had played just as well in that second tournament as he did in the two victories, but simply didn’t get the putts to fall and didn’t get a few breaks.

'You know, it's timing,” he said at the time. 'It's having a little luck. Things went my way and I took advantage of some good breaks.”

I don’t know if Wilson is the most underrated PGA Tour player, because we’d all have to rate him pretty low and have him exceed those expectations. I also don’t know if he’s only a terrific early-season player, as all five of his career wins have come in the first three months on the calendar.

What I do know is that – much like I wrote in this space about Johnson Wagner last week – when Wilson gets the opportunity to win, he has proven himself to be an excellent closer. That’s a good thing for obvious reasons, but less conspicuous ones, too. One win gets a player into the Masters and the next year’s Tournament of Champions, clinches a two-year exemption, guarantees a boatload of cash and raises status in the Official World Golf Ranking.

It can easily be argued that one or two wins per year and a bunch of other unexciting results – much like Wilson had last season – is more profitable in every way than a series of consistent 12th-place finishes.

What’s the difference between winning and just claiming one of those nice results? If you ask Wilson, it may only be a few putts hanging on the lip and a few breaks going your way.


2. Three Up

Bubba Watson 

Bubba Watson

He wasn’t in the Humana Challenge field this week, but Watson still came up a winner.

As you’ve probably heard by now, Bubba from Bagdad won an auction to purchase the original General Lee car from the “Dukes of Hazzard” television series.

What you may not know is that he didn’t simply buy it on a whim. This is one trophy that Watson has waited a while to win. Here's the real story.

3. Branden Grace

It’s one thing to win your first career European Tour title. It’s another to back it up with No. 2 just one week later.

But it’s something else altogether for that second victory to come in a playoff against your two biggest childhood heroes.

That was exactly the case for Grace on Sunday, as a birdie on the first extra hole vaulted the 23-year-old to a Volvo Golf Champions victory over fellow South Africans Ernie Els and Retief Goosen.

'I'm really ecstatic,' said Grace, who started the year at 258th on the Official World Golf Ranking, but is now inside the top 100. 'It's a dream come true to win such a big event – pretty much the best tournament I've played in so far.'

4. Larry Nelson

He owns three major championship titles and 40 career worldwide wins, but the Hall of Famer accomplished something this past week that he had never done before.

Nelson’s last round of golf before the Champions Tour season opener at Hualalai was the final round of the SAS Championship back in September. Since then, he installed a Dynamix Golf simulator in his home, practicing exclusively indoors.

In his first full round under the sun since last year, the 63-year-old bested his age by a stroke, posting a 62 in the tournament’s pro-am.

Though he could only come within a half-dozen shots of that number during the tournament rounds, Nelson has expressed a goal of becoming the Tour’s oldest winner ever, something he’d like to achieve this year.


5. Three Down

Dustin Johnson 

Dustin Johnson

It seemed like an ambitious comeback for Dustin Johnson to so swiftlyreturn from offseason knee surgery, but less than three weeks afterfirst touching a club again, he was in the field at the HumanaChallenge.

It didn’t last.

Johnson withdrew after nine holes in the second round, but his reason was only partially linked to that surgery.

“My knee is OK. I’m not worried about it,” he explained. “My lowerback is really stiff and hurting, which I think is from the way I amwalking or the fact that I have not walked a lot since the surgery.[Thursday] was first time I walked 18 holes.”

Unlike some former champions who feast on the early-season West Coastevents – DJ has twice won at Pebble Beach – he has also shown strongform late in the year, so an early setback shouldn’t inhibit hislong-term prognosis very much.

6. Port Charlotte Golf Club

As if water hazards and bunkers don’t provide enough of a challenge on the course, Port Charlotte has been overrun by a peril of another kind.

Dismembered cats.

According to a Sarasota Herald-Tribune report, several mutilated felines have been found on the course in the past month. Originally, detectives were canvassing nearby homes in search of a person or group responsible for outbreak.

However, this past week employees found large paw prints in a fairway, leading to speculation that the cat killer isn’t human, but rather some type of predatory animal.

7. Nicolas Colsaerts

What a wild, roller-coaster week for Colsaerts at the Volvo Golf Champions.

He opened by posting a sublime 64 to set a new course record at venerable The Links at Fancourt. The next day, though, he tied for the worst score in the field, dropping from atop the leaderboard with a 76. He bounced back in the third round to tie for the lead once again, but on Sunday he made a bogey on the par-5 closing hole to finish one shot out of the three-man playoff.

All of which could earn the Belgium native a new nickname: The Belgian Waffler.

What, too syrupy? Don’t worry. Colsaerts is an emerging talent who is sure to pancake plenty of competitors this season.


8. Quote of the Week

“Golf is dope. It’s like the heroin of sports.” – Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Smokey Robinson, who played in the Humana Challenge pro-am this past week.


9. YouTube Clip of the Week

John Daly doesn’t like ties. No, I mean, he really, really hates them.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8Y102zGxDA


10. Three Wishes

Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson 

I wish the oddsmakers would turn this into a prop bet.

During my Friday appearance on “Morning Drive,” I discussed with hosts Gary Williams and Erik Kuselias the chances of Phil Mickelson reaching 50 career PGA Tour victories.

Currently tied with Gene Sarazen and Tom Watson at 39, his next win would make him the 10th ever to reach the Big Four-Oh. Can he get 11 more? Just as I asserted on the show that I believe with renewed motivation toward reaching that monumental number Phil can accomplish that goal, Kuselias countered with an intriguing question that could hit the boards at a sportsbook near you.

He asked: “Which will happen first: Phil Mickelson reaches 50 career PGA Tour wins or Tiger Woods reaches 19 career majors?”

Even though I believe Mickelson has a very good chance of getting to 50, I still agreed with both hosts that Woods will break Jack Nicklaus’ record either easier or quicker.

Agree or disagree, it’s one heck of a prop bet.

11. I wish Tiger Woods would be more honest…

In case you missed the big news for this upcoming week, Woods will skip the PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines – a venue on which he has won six Farmers Insurance Open titles and a U.S. Open – in favor of competing in Abu Dhabi instead.

When asked his thought process for making such a decision, Woods recently claimed that he’s always enjoyed desert golf and likes playing different courses.

That’s B.S.

Yes, a Brazen Stonewall.

The fact is, Tiger is a creature of habit and actually hates going to different venues. And if he likes desert golf so much, why has he never once played in the Humana Challenge?

No, there are likely two-to-three million reasons why Woods is making his season debut in Abu Dhabi. And that’s OK. The main objective for any person in having a job is to earn money and provide for their family. I would never castigate a professional golfer – Woods or anyone else – for taking a guaranteed appearance fee that helps achieve that goal.

All I’m asking for is a little honesty. Woods doesn’t have to disclose monetary figures, but if he simply told us he’s starting the year in Abu Dhabi instead of Torrey Pines because it offers a better bottom line in his bank account, it would be so much easier to respect the decision.

12. ... I wish Tiger Woods was always this honest.

In a telephone interview with ESPN.com on Thursday, Woods was asked about Hank Haney’s upcoming book “The Big Miss,” in which he writes of working with him for more than a half-decade.

'I think it's unprofessional and very disappointing,' Woods said, 'especially because it's someone I worked with and trusted as a friend. There have been other one-sided books about me, and I think people understand that this book is about money. I'm not going to waste my time reading it.'

Whether you agree or disagree with Woods’ pointed comments, they should serve as a departure from the norm for the ultimate fence-sitter. Those who have grown weary of Woods’ recurring self-analysis such as, “It is what it is,” and “It’s a process,” should be pleasantly surprised with the honesty he showed this week.

It’s easy to criticize Tiger for failing to divulge his true feelings over the years, but when he does vocally display some raw emotion, he shouldn’t similarly be chastised for doing the opposite.


13. Fact or Fiction

Mark Wilson will be on this year’s U.S. Ryder Cup team?

Prepare yourselves, because this is about to become a weekly query. Well, every week in which an American player wins, at least.

It happens every even-numbered year. Whenever a guy from the U.S. claims some hardware by finishing atop a tournament leaderboard, the topic comes up as to whether that player is worthy enough of clinching a spot on the team.

In fact, within minutes of Wilson’s victory this week, I had already received a number of tweets from fans lobbying for him to be on the roster.

It would be a sweet trip for the Humana Challenge champ, who was born and raised in Wisconsin, but makes his home in Chicago, where the biennial competition will be held at Medinah later this year.

That said, it’s a long season. Wilson is a very good player, but is he amongst the top 12 that captain Davis Love III will have in the team room that week? I don’t think so.

The biggest reason is that he’s been underwhelming in major championships, making the cut in just two of the seven he’s played, with a top finish of T-26. With those events carrying double points, it’s tough to see Wilson making the team on his own merit, which would mean he’d need to finish in the top eight on the points list.

It’s tougher than you may realize. Think about it: Last year Wilson won twice, but still was on the outside looking in for the Presidents Cup points list, which went 10 deep, not eight.

And if he doesn’t make it on points, well, would DL3 really choose him over a group that may include players such as Jim Furyk, Zach Johnson, Rickie Fowler and Dustin Johnson, among others? I just don’t see it happening.

Consider the above statement FICTION, though I’d be happy to see Wilson prove me wrong.


14. Stat of the Week

David Duval 

In the final round of what was then the Bob Hope Classic, David Duval posted a 59 to win the 1999 edition of the event.

At the same tournament this past week, he finished DFL of those who played three full rounds. Even so, Duval is actually trending upward at the site of his historic victory.

In his first four starts at this event following that 59, he had a scoring average of 68.37 with 15 rounds in the 60s. In his next four starts, his scoring average was 73.22 with just five rounds in the 60s. But in his last four starts – including this past week – his scoring average has dipped to 70.25 with 10 rounds in the 60s.


15. Punch Shots

It’s not often Tiger Woods volunteers information about personal matters, but that wasn’t the case Thursday when he spoke out against former swing coach Hank Haney in a phone interview with ESPN.com. Haney’s book “The Big Miss” is due out March 27 and chronicles his time coaching Woods.

Woods may not agree with Haney’s decision to write the book, but should he have spoken out about his displeasure or simply left it alone? Rex Hoggard and I weighed in with our Punch Shots.


16. Photo of the Week

Humana Challenge

Strong winds wreaked havoc during Saturday's third round of the Humana Challenge, bringing down trees, scoreboards and hospitality tents. Played was eventually suspended for the day because of danger. View all Photos of the Week.


17. And the Winner Is…

After Charles Howell III posted yet another runner-up finish at the Sony Open, I said on one of our Golf Channel studio shows that he almost has to win one by accident pretty soon.

For his career – which is now remarkably in its 12th season already – Howell owns 13 second-place results, but only two victories and none since 2007. He’s too good not to win again soon and Torrey Pines seems like the perfect place for it to happen.

In nine career starts at the picturesque home of the Farmers Insurance Open, CH3 owns six finishes of 14th or better, including a pair of those aforementioned runners-up. Here’s saying he goes one better this week.

18. And the Other Winner Is...

With the top four players in the Official World Golf Ranking in the field, along with Tiger Woods and a bevy of other accomplished stars, it’s difficult to believe a lesser-name player will win this week’s Abu Dhabi Golf Championship.

If you look at the stats, though, it’s difficult to believe that anybody except Martin Kaymer can win it.

The world’s fourth-ranked player won last year’s edition of the event. And the year before that. The year before that, he was merely runner-up. But the year before that – you guessed it – he won.

That’s a tidy little 1-1-2-1 performance chart for the Germanator over the past four years. I’ll pick plenty of darkhorses in this section throughout the year, but gotta ride a thoroughbred once in a while, too. Kaymer has obviously figured out Abu Dhabi Golf Club. Expect him to prove it once again this week, as he goes for the three-peat.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 3, Tiger Woods

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 12:45 pm

After returning to competition at the Hero World Challenge in December 2016, Woods started the new year with an ambitious slate of tournament starts as he eyed his first full season since 2013. But he made it only three rounds, looking rusty en route to a missed cut at Torrey Pines before withdrawing abruptly in Dubai.

The “spasms” that led to that withdrawal turned out to be something far more serious, as Woods underwent his fourth and most invasive back surgery in April, a lumbar fusion. It brought with it an extensive rehabilitation, and at the Presidents Cup in September Woods humored the prospect that he might never again play competitive golf.

At Liberty National he also faced some scrutiny for an off-course incident from months prior. In May he was arrested for suspicion of DUI, an incident that produced a startling roadside video of an intoxicated Woods struggling to follow instructions from the arresting officer after driving erratically.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


While he was not drinking at the time, Woods was found to have a mix of several prescription medications in his system, including multiple painkillers. He checked himself into a private drug treatment program in July to address his dependency issues, and in October he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of reckless driving.

But the incident was barely a memory when Woods again made a return to competition in the Bahamas at the tournament he hosts. This time around he exceeded nearly every expectation, twice shooting 4-under 68 while tying for ninth among the 18-man field. Having re-tooled his swing following fusion surgery, Woods appeared relaxed, happy and healthy while briefly taking the lead during the tournament’s second round.

What lies ahead for Woods in 2018 remains uncertain, as the stop-and-start nature of this past season serves as a cautionary tale. But after a harrowing arrest and another serious surgery, he seems once again focused on his game, intent on chasing down a new crop of elite talent, some of whom are barely more than half his age.

Woods' initial comeback short-lived, leads to another back surgery

Article: Woods undergoes "successful" fourth back surgery

Article: Woods (back spasm) withdraws from Dubai

Article: Players disappointed Woods withdraws from Dubai

Really, again: Tiger undergoes fourth back surgery

Begay on Tiger: Future is 'extremely uncertain'


Woods arrested for DUI, enters diversion program after getting "professional help"

Article: Woods arrested for DUI in May

Article: Police say Woods had 5 drugs in system when arrested

Article: DUI affidavit states Tiger asleep in parked car

Dashcam video released of Tiger's DUI arrest

Begay, Rolfing: Tiger's arrest needs to be wakeup call

Photos: Tiger Woods' car during DUI arrest

Tiger Woods at his 2017 DUI court hearing.

Photos: Tiger Woods in court for DUI hearing

Article: Tiger gets 'professional help' for prescription meds

Tiger Woods at his 2017 DUI court hearing.

Article: Woods pleads in court guilty to reckless driving


Woods goes from unsure of his pro golf future to resuming full golf activities

Article: Doctor clears Woods for full golf activity six months after back surgery

Article: Tiger doesn't know what future holds

Article: Woods back to making full swings

Woods admits he might never return to competition

Making progress: Breaking down Tiger's driver swing


Woods returns to competition for first time since February at Hero World Challenge

Article: Hero comeback a success for healthy Woods

Article: Woods discusses his back: 'No issues at all, none'

Tiger Tracker: Woods finished T-9 in return to competition

Chamblee: 'I was wrong' about some of my Woods skepticism

Tiger, if you were hurting, would you tell us? 'Yeah, I'd tell you'


Woods out and about in 2017

Article: Video, images of Tiger's round with Trump

Article: Woods posts photo as 'Mac Daddy Santa'

Article: Tiger at U.S. Open sitting in Nadal's box

Article: Shirtless Tiger holds up a massive lobster

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 12:30 pm
Getty Images

NBC Sports' Coverage of LPGA Tour in 2017 Most-Viewed Season Ever for NBC Sports

By Golf Channel Public RelationsDecember 13, 2017, 8:45 pm

NBC Sports’ LPGA Tour Coverage Ties 2013 for Most-Watched Year Since 2011

NBC and Golf Channel Boast Top-6 Most-Watched Women’s Golf Telecasts in 2017

Beginning with the dramatic playoff finish at the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic in January and concluding with Lexi Thompson winning the $1 million Race to the CME Globe, nearly 22 million viewers tuned in to LPGA Tour coverage across Golf Channel and NBC in 2017. This makes 2017 the most-viewed LPGA Tour season across NBC Sports since Golf Channel joined the NBC Sports Group in 2011. Additionally, 2017 tied 2013 as the LPGA Tour’s most-watched year across NBC Sports since 2011. Coverage drew an average of 221,000 viewers per telecast in 2017 (+24% vs. 2016), according to data released by The Nielsen Company.

NBC SPORTS GROUP CLAIMS TOP-6 MOST-WATCHED WOMEN’S GOLF TELECASTS IN ‘17

For the first time ever in televised women’s golf, Sunday’s final round of the RICOH Women’s British Open (Sunday, Aug. 6, 2017, 1.1 million viewers) delivered the most-watched and highest-rated women’s golf telecast of the year. NBC’s Saturday (Day 2) coverage of the Solheim Cup in August placed second with 968,000 viewers, followed by Sunday’s Solheim Cup coverage on NBC with 946,000 viewers. Golf Channel’s live coverage of Sunday’s final day of the Solheim Cup drew 795,000 viewers, the most-watched women’s golf event on cable in eight years.

Rank

Network

Event

Day

Avg. Viewers P2+

1

NBC

RICOH WOMEN'S BRITISH OPEN

Sunday

1,100,526

2

NBC

SOLHEIM CUP

Saturday

968,202

3

NBC

SOLHEIM CUP

Sunday

946,387

4

NBC

KPMG WOMEN'S PGA CHAMPIONSHIP

Sunday

839,983

5

NBC

RICOH WOMEN'S BRITISH OPEN

Saturday

808,578

6

GOLF

SOLHEIM CUP

Sunday

795,000

ADDITIONAL VIEWERSHIP MILESTONES FOR WOMEN’S GOLF IN 2017

  • ANA Inspiration - The LPGA’s first major championship delivered thefifth most-watched LPGA final round in Golf Channel history with 551,000 viewers when So Yeon Ryu defeated Lexi Thompson in a playoff following Thompson being assessed a four-stroke penalty earlier in the final round.
  • KPMG Women’s PGA Championship – The LPGA’s second major was seen by 6.6 million viewers across Golf Channel and NBC, the largest audience for the event on record (2006-17). Sunday’s final round on NBC, which saw Danielle Kang win her first LPGA Tour event over defending champion Brooke Henderson, also was the most-watched telecast in the event’s history with 840,000 average viewers.
  • RICOH Women’s British Open – NBC’s Sunday coverage of the RICOH Women’s British Open delivered the most-watched and highest-rated women’s golf telecast in 2017 (.78 U.S. HH rating, 1.1 million viewers). In total, 7 million unique viewers tuned in to coverage across Golf Channel and NBC, the most-watched RICOH Women’s British Open in the past 10 years and the most-watched among the five women’s major championships in 2017.
  • Solheim Cup – Seen by a total audience of 7.3 million viewers across Golf Channel and NBC, the Solheim Cup posted the largest total audience for women’s golf since the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open on ESPN/NBC. Golf Channel’s live coverage of the final day drew 795,000 average viewers, becoming the most-watched women’s golf telecast on cable in the last eight years, since the final day of the 2009 Solheim Cup.

GOLF CHANNEL DIGITAL POSTS RECORD STREAMING CONSUMPTION

Golf Channel Digital posted record numbers of LPGA streaming consumption with 11.9 million live minutes streamed across LPGA Tour telecasts in 2017 (+563% vs. 2016).

  • Solheim Cup – Three-day coverage of the Solheim Cup saw 6.3 million minutes streamed across NBC Sports’ Digital platforms, trailing only the 2016 Rio Olympics (9 million) as the most-ever for a women’s golf event airing on Golf Channel / NBC.
  • RICOH Women’s British Open – Four-day coverage of the RICOH Women’s British Open saw 2 million minutes streamed, +773% vs. 2016.

NBC Sports Group combined to air 31 LPGA Tour events in 2017 and a total of 420 hours of coverage, the most in LPGA history. The exclusive cable home to the LPGA Tour, Golf Channel aired coverage of four of five women’s major championships in 2017, with three majors also airing on NBC: the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, RICOH Women’s British Open and The Evian Championship. The biennial Solheim Cup also returned to network television for the first time in 15 years with weekend coverage on NBC.

Source: Nielsen 2017 Live+Same Day DVR vs. prior available data. Persons 2+ avg 000’s and/or Persons 2+ reach w/six-minute qualifier. Digital Metrics from Adobe Reports & Analytics. Details available.

Hensby takes full responsibility for violation

By Rex HoggardDecember 13, 2017, 5:28 pm

The PGA Tour’s Anti-Doping Program manual covers 48 pages of details, from the pressing to the mundane, but for Mark Hensby the key section of the policy could be found on Page 5.

“The collector may allow you to delay reporting to the testing area for unavoidable obligations; however, you will be monitored from the time of notification until completion of the sample collection process,” the policy reads. “A failure to report to the testing area by the required time is the same as a doping violation under the program.”

Hensby, a 46-year-old former Tour winner from Australia, didn’t read that section, or any other part of the manual. In fact, he said he hasn’t received the circuit’s anti-doping manual in years. Not that he uses that as an excuse.

To be clear, Hensby doesn’t blame his anti-doping plight on anyone else.

“At the end of the day it’s my responsibility. I take full responsibility,” he told GolfChannel.com.

Like Doug Barron, Scott Stallings and even Vijay Singh before him, Hensby ran afoul of the Tour’s anti-doping policy because, essentially, of a clerical error. There were no failed tests, no in-depth investigations, no seedy entourages who sent Hensby down a dark road of performance-enhancing drug use.

Just a simple misunderstanding combined with bad timing.

Hensby, who last played a full season on Tour in 2003, had just completed the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship when he was approached by a member of the Tour’s anti-doping testing staff. He was angry about his play and had just used the restroom on the 17th hole and, he admits, was in no mood to wait around to take the urine test.

“Once I said, ‘Can I take it in the morning,’ [the Tour’s anti-doping official] said, ‘We can’t hold you here,’” Hensby recalled. “I just left.”

Not one but two officials called Hensby that night to ask why he’d declined to take the test, and he said he was even advised to return to the Country Club of Jackson (Miss.) to take the test, which is curious because the policy doesn’t allow for such gaps between notification of a test and the actual testing.

According to the policy, a player is considered in violation of the program if he leaves the presence of the doping control officers without providing the required sample.

A Tour official declined to comment on the matter citing the circuit’s policy not to comment on doping violations beyond the initial disclosure.

A week later, Hensby was informed he was in violation of the Tour’s policy and although he submitted a letter to the commissioner explaining the reasons for his failure to take the test he was told he would be suspended from playing in any Tour-sanctioned events (including events on the Web.com Tour) for a year.

“I understand now what the consequences are, but you know I’ve been banned for a performance-enhancing drug violation, and I don’t take performance-enhancing drugs,” Hensby said.

Hensby isn’t challenging his suspension nor did he have any interest in criticizing the Tour’s policy, instead his message two days after the circuit announced the suspension was focused on his fellow Tour members.

“I think the players need to read that manual really, really well. There are things I wasn’t aware of and I think other players weren’t aware of either,” he said. “You have to read the manual.”

It was a similar message Stallings offered following his 90-day suspension in 2015 after he turned himself in for using DHEA, an anabolic agent that is the precursor to testosterone production and banned by the Tour.

“This whole thing was a unique situation that could have been dealt with differently, but I made a mistake and I owned up to it,” Stallings said at the time.

Barron’s 2009 suspension, which was for a year, also could have been avoided after he tested positive for supplemental testosterone and a beta-blocker, both of which were prescribed by a doctor for what were by many accounts legitimate health issues.

And Singh’s case, well that chapter is still pending in the New York Supreme Court, but the essential element of the Fijian’s violation was based on his admitted use of deer-antler spray, which contained a compound called IGF-1. Although IGF-1 is a banned substance, the World Anti-Doping Agency has ruled that the use of deer-antler spray is not a violation if an athlete doesn’t fail a drug test. Singh never failed a test.

The Tour’s anti-doping history is littered with cases that could have been avoided, cases that should have been avoided. Despite the circuit’s best educational efforts, it’s been these relatively innocent violations that have defined the program.

In retrospect, Hensby knows he should have taken the test. He said he had nothing to hide, but anger got the best of him.

“To be honest, it would have been hard, the way I was feeling that day, I know I’m a hothead at times, but I would have probably stayed [had he known the consequences],” he admitted. “You’ve got to understand that if you have too much water you can’t get a test either and then you have to stay even longer.”

Hensby said before his run in with the anti-doping small print he wasn’t sure what his professional future would be, but his suspension has given him perspective and a unique motivation.

“I was talking to my wife last night, I have a little boy, it’s been a long month,” said Hensby after dropping his son, Caden, off at school. “I think I have a little more drive now and when I come back. I wasn’t going to play anymore, but when I do come back I am going to be motivated.”

He’s also going to be informed when it comes to the Tour’s anti-doping policy, and he hopes his follow professionals take a similar interest.