Hjorth Wins Maiden Title
It got better for the Swede as her victory earned her a place in this years $2.5million Evian Masters in a fortnight and also the Weetabix Womens British Open at Sunningdale in three weeks time.
All of this came after a torrid year to date for Mimmi on the LPGA Tour, where she earned only $13,348 in 13 starts. But after picking up 26,859 and entry to two of the biggest events in womens golf, Hjorth was feeling emotional as her achievements began to sink in.
I still cant believe it, said a delighted Hjorth. I was lucky to make a few birdies early on and that really helped me get comfortable out there.
Looking for both a confidence booster and entry to the Evian Masters, an event at which she has finished runner up on occasions, the 30-year-old from Falun in Sweden demonstrated the form which saw her lead the birdie making statistics on the LPGA Tour in 2001 when she made 407 in a season.
Hjorth only had one bogey in three rounds and on Sunday, equalled the course record - set earlier in the day by Englands Lora Fairclough - after carding eight birdies, which included a grandstand finish with three-in-a-row at the closing holes.
Hjorths 19-under par total 197, which beat the previous record of 200 set by Trish Johnson in the 1996 French Open, was good enough for a six shot victory from Australias Joanne Mills, who despite a final round 68, could not put any pressure on the Swede.
And local favourite Karen Stupples from Deal also had a 4-under par 68 to finish in a tie with another Swede, Asa Gottmo on 12 under par.
Johnson showed a return to form after a frustrating six weeks on Tour with a closing 5-under 67 and shared fifth place with German rookie Anja Monke, who had a 68.
But it was Hjorth who, knowing she had the title in the bag after birdies at the 16th and 17th to forge a five shot lead, played the final hole with tears in her eyes as she made perhaps the most emotional birdie of her career to date to secure the title.
Its been very frustrating over the last 18 months, its been very hard, but you just never know when the game is going to come round again, said Hjorth, who has been coached by Karrie Webbs swing guru Ian Triggs on making her swing more upright and consistent.
Its been a tough year in America but Ive been playing a lot better the last month or so but I couldnt put three rounds together. You know its going to happen sometime, but you just dont know when and this week, it all came together perfectly.
I just tried to focus on what I was doing today and I was surprised that nobody made a challenge, but having a few birdies at the start myself really helped keep the pressure off.
Its pretty nice to know I broke the Tour record and finishing with those three birdies was fabulous and knowing that I now get into Evian is great. That was part of the reason to come and play over here. I love that event and to get into the British Open too, which I didnt know if I could or not, is an extra bonus.
The local fans were all praying for Stupples to become the first winner on either side of the Atlantic, but the 31-year-old from Deal had no qualms about what Hjorth had achieved with an amazing final round.
Ive had a final round 68 and gave it my all out there, said Stupples. I really cant complain.
The whole week has just been amazing, its lovely to be back at home and Ive had a very enjoyable week. The support has been unbelievable out there and the tournament has a fantastic winner in Maria.
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
Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf
Well, this is a one new one.
According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:
“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”
Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.
“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.
The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.
“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”
The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.
Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.
Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.
PGA Tour suspends Hensby for anti-doping violation
Mark Hensby has been suspended for one year by the PGA Tour for violating the Tour’s anti-doping policy by failing to provide a sample after notification.
The Tour made the announcement Monday, reporting that Hensby will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.
The statement reads:
The PGA Tour announced today that Mark Hensby has violated the Tour Anti-Doping Policy for failing to provide a drug testing sample after notification and has been suspended for a period of one year. He will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.
Hensby, 46, won the John Deere Classic in 2004. He played the Web.com Tour this past year, playing just 14 events. He finished 142nd on the money list. He once ranked among the top 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking but ranks No. 1,623 today.
The Sunshine Tour recently suspended player Etienne Bond for one year for failing a drug test. Players previously suspended by the PGA Tour for violating the anti-doping policy include Scott Stallings and Doug Barron.
The PGA Tour implemented revisions to its anti-doping program with the start of the 2017-18 season. The revisions include blood testing and the supplementation of the Tour’s prohibited list to include all of the substances and methods on the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited list. As part of this season’s revisions, the Tour announced it would also begin reporting suspensions due to recreational drug use.
The Tour said it would not issue further comment on Hensby's suspension.