Jones Brushes Aside Trouble to Win Q-School Title
Rebounding from a less-than-stellar 74 the day before, Jones fired a 2-under-par 70 in the final round of the Canadian Tour McDonald's Winter Qualifying School Friday at the Barefoot Resort in Myrtle Beach, SC, finishing atop the leader board and grabbing one of 20 exempt status Tour cards for this year.
Conrad Ray (Hilton Head, SC) and Lewis Chitengwa (Zimbabwe) finished tied for second, just two shots behind Jones. Of the Two Canadians in Friday's final qualifying stage, only Craig Matthew was able to walk away with an exempt card with a four-day total of 287. Stuart Anderson (Strathmore, AB) had a disastrous 42 on the back nine, missing a playoff for the 20th card by one stroke while settling for a conditional card.
If early omens are any indication, it would appear as though Jones and Kleman may prove to be a potent one-two punch. Kleman, 22, a Golf Academy of the Carolinas student, trekked out to Barefoot before Wednesday's opening round looking to caddy for a pro. After several offers were declined, Jones, who was about to drive to a neighbouring range for a pre-round practice session, decided to give the youngster a shot.
'I was about to pull away, and he looked so sad, he had these big puppy dog eyes,' laughed the 43-year-old Orlando, FL, resident. 'Actually, we were talking about it earlier today, how it almost seems like destiny. He does a great job reading the greens, and he usually had the right club out of my bag before I had even decided what to use.'
While it was fun for Jones while it lasted, the team may have a quick split-Kleman is scheduled back in class next week and will likely not be around when the Tour's first event of the year, the Myrtle Beach Classic, gets underway on Thursday.
After his disappointing third round, Jones knew he had to work on his mechanics and spent Thursday night practicing his swing in front of a mirror. The next day, he was geared up to re-claim the third-round lead he lost to Dave Christensen of Otsego, MN.
'I think it all comes down to experience,' he said. 'I just to regroup and psyche myself up. But this is a tremendous opportunity for me, to get on the Canadian Tour..there are a lot of strong players, and that can only help me boost my game.'
While those who qualified for the Tour were all smiles in the clubhouse after Friday's round, the same could not be said for Darren Leng of England. The 26-year-old Leng, who sat in a fourth-place tie after Thursday, spent the night in hospital with appendicitis and missed Friday's round.
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.