2001 Senior PGA Tour Moments

By Mercer BaggsDecember 19, 2001, 5:00 pm
You might have missed them. You might have watched them live on tape. But there were several shining moments on the 50-and-over circuit in 2001.
This year began much the same way last year ended ' in Larry Nelson dominance. The 2000 Senior PGA Tour Player of the Year won his first two starts this season, and added three more over the remainder of the year to lead the tour with five victories.
Jim Colbert won but once this season, but by capturing the SBC Senior Classic ' the same week as his 60th birthday ' he became the eighth player in Senior Tour history to reach the 20 victory plateau.
Gil Morgan soon became No. 9, when he won both the ACE Group and Instinet Classics.
However, the king of senior golf is still Hale Irwin. The 56-year-old continued his winning ways, notching three in 2001, thus raising his career total to 32 ' three more than his nearest pursuer, Lee Trevino.
Mike McCullough recorded his first-ever win this season at the Mexico Senior Classic. The triumph came in his 178th start on tour, and 151st consecutive event for which he had been eligible.
Just four starts later he would become a multiple tour winner, claiming the Emerald Coast Classic.
Jose Maria Canizares made his maiden trip to the winners circle in 2001. He outlasted Morgan in a nine-hole playoff ' one off the tour record ' at the Toshiba Senior Classic.
Coincidentally, Bob Murphy won the same event in 1997 by defeating Jay Sigel with an 80-foot birdie putt on the ninth extra hole. And last year Gary McCord bettered three others on the fifth hole of sudden death.
In the rookie department, four players were able to garner victories ' three of who did so more than once. Bob Gilder, Sammy Rachels and Bruce Lietzke all won their first ' and second Senior Tour events as freshmen.
Rachels even managed to win once while using a traditional putter and once while using a long putter.
Meanwhile, Bobby Wadkins may have produced the biggest non-major triumph of the season. After a 26-year winless drought on both the PGA and Buy.Com Tours ' a span of more than 700 tournaments ' Wadkins finally finished the race first, winning the Lightpath Long Island Classic in his very first start.
Wadkins became the 10th player to win in his Senior debut, and the first since his brother, Lanny, did so last year.
He also became the youngest winner in tour history at 50 years, 9 days. Morgan was 50-years, 10-days old when he won his first event in 1996.
But, of course, the brightest moments were cast in the major championships ' all of which had a distinct flavor.
Doug Tewell won the seasons first big event at The Countrywide Tradition. There wasnt much drama, as the second-year player fired a final-round 62 to post a nine-shot victory.
The three other majors were much more tightly contested. Bruce Fleisher won the U.S. Senior Open by three shots, when one-by-one his opponents faltered coming home. The victory was Fleishers first in a major championship; and made all the more sweet after he blew a final-round lead to Irwin a year ago.
The Senior PGA Championship was one of nostalgia. Arnold Palmer shot his age (71) in the first round. Jack Nicklaus was in contention down the stretch Sunday. And Tom Watson, winner of eight majors on the regular tour, captured his first PGA of America title.
The years final major belonged to Allen Doyle. The former amateur standout made a 50-foot putt on the 72nd hole to force a playoff, and then two-putted from a near-identical spot to deny Tewell his second major of the season at the Ford Senior Players Championship.
The victory was the professional highlight of Doyles remarkable 2001 campaign; one that saw him win twice and capture the money title with over $2.5 million.
But his biggest accomplishment ' and perhaps the most selfless act by anyone on any tour ' was in donating the $1 million annuity he won in the Charles Schwab Cup points race to the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks.
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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