Final Stretch For 2004 Futures Tour
Exempt LPGA Tour cards for the top-five money earners after 18 tournaments are the ultimate goal all year for members of the Futures Tour. To earn one of the cards is to graduate with honors and advance from the minors to the major league.
Falling short of the top five has a consolation prize, however. Futures Tour members who finish in the next 10 spots (behind the exempt card winners), and excluding any non-exempt LPGA Tour members, advance directly into the LPGA's Final Qualifying Tournament. That means they avoid sectional qualifiers in Florida and California and move into the final qualifier in Daytona Beach, Fla. Any player who whiffs on the top 15 goes to Q-School anyway -- they just take the long, harder route that adds a little insult to an already long season.
But with only two tournaments remaining on the schedule, there's a lot of stress at crunch time. It's put-up-or-shut-up time. It's time when some players' minds race forward to 2005 to where they want to be or to where they hope they won't be.
'A lot of players are feeling a sense of urgency right now,' said Lisa Strom Fernandes, a fourth-year Futures Tour member who is ranked 47th. 'Q-School is the ultimate Black Hole. It's a major ordeal and you want to avoid going there.'
Echoing Tiger Woods' frequent declaration, players on the Futures Tour often share the belief that their games 'are close' to being where they want to be. They believe they are maybe 'two swings away' from a win or a low score. And that only adds to the anxiety of facing the final stretch of tournaments and trying to perform in a timely fashion.
That said, count on an all-out skirmish for those 2005 LPGA Tour cards this year. In 2003, Candy Hannemann won two of the last three tournaments to clinch the No. 3 position on the Futures Tour Money List. Because of that history, even players in the top-five feel liked marked women.
'I sort of feel like No. 1 and No. 2 are probably OK, but from the No. 3 to the No. 5 spot, I think it's kind of like a wild card,' said Kang, who won the fourth-to-last tournament in West Virginia and jumped from No. 3 to No. 1 with three weeks to play. 'It's stressful right now. People are practicing more and the range and putting greens are packed, even on pro-am days. I think it's going to be really close at the end.'
Weary from the season and often battling injuries, there are numerous pros playing hurt. But with so few events remaining, players are reluctant to take even a day off. The drudgery of the season often has shown up in their scores.
'Right now, it's more physical than mental,' said Nicole Perrot of Chile, who currently is ranked No. 3, after having won in Albany, N.Y. last week. 'But the worst thing I can do is worry about it. You have to worry about the things you can control.'
And heading into that final Sunday on Aug. 29, in York, Pa., about all anybody can control is their sweaty palms and daydreams of the LPGA Tour.
Editors Note: Lisa D. Mickey is the director of communications for the Futures Golf Tour and a longtime member of the national golf media. For more information, about the Futures Tour, contact email@example.com or visit futurestour.com.
Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test
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."
Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage
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.
Swipe to see what’s up in my world. It’s long-winded.... short version, we lost the baby. Had to share this since we had shared the news already. I know you’re all so supportive and kind. I just couldn’t face it before. Now let’s get back to our regularly scheduled programming. #ihavealotoffeelings #andphotostocatchupon
“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
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.
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.
Green jacket tour
Man of the people
Ace at 17th at Sawgrass
Departure from TaylorMade
Squashed beef with Paddy
Victory at Valderrama
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com is counting down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below, including future release dates:
No. 4: Dec. 13
No. 3: Dec. 14
No. 2: Dec. 15
No. 1: Dec. 18