Clarke in Search of a Pair of Volvos

By Mercer BaggsNovember 4, 2000, 5:00 pm
Darren Clarke has already made enough money this year to buy a fleet of luxury automobiles. However, a win this week could provide the Ulsterman with a pair of Volvos.
Saturday in Jerez, Spain, Clarke played his final three holes in 3-under-par to tie overnight leader Pierre Fulke for the 54-hole lead at the Volvo Masters, and, in the process, put himself in prime position to overtake Lee Westwood for the top spot on the Volvo Order of Merit.
Clarke fired a 4-under-par 68 to move to 11-under through three rounds, the same number reached by Fulke, who birdied the home hole for a 2-under-par 70.
Stephen Leaney is in solo third place at 10-under after a third-round 69. Jose Maria Olazabal stands in a four-way tie with Ricardo Gonzalez, Angel Cabrera and Fredrik Jacobson for fourth place at 8-under. The Spaniard could only manage an even-par 72 on Saturday.
Clarke, who trails Westwood by roughly $70,000 in earnings, began the day two shots back of Fulke. The Northern Irishman got off to a hot start on Saturday, birdying three of his first seven holes, but cooled quickly, thereafter.
Clarke bogeyed three of his next eight holes to drop to 8-under-par for the tournament, and even-par for the day.
He then hit his favorite stretch of holes at Montecastillo.
Clarke eagled the par-5 16th, parred the par-4 17th, and birdied the par-4 18th. Clarke has played the final three holes in 7-under-par through three rounds.
'I said at the start of the week that I wanted to put myself into a position where I could challenge for the tournament and that's what I've managed to do,' said Clarke.
'I was very patient again today. I waited for things to happen. If I could bottle (the attitude) I've got this week I would pay a fortune for it. I don't know what's going on. This hasn't been like me.'
Saturday, Clarke played alongside the man he's trying to secede as Order of Merit champion. Needing to win this week and next to secure his eighth-straight money title, Colin Montgomerie dropped from a three shots off the lead as the day began to eight strokes back by day's end.
Monty carded a dismal 3-over-par 75 in the third round. The Scot's poor performance, combined with the Clarke's stellar play, has all-but assured the European Tour of a new money champion in 2000.
If Clarke is to come out of this week leading the Order of Merit, he'll have to fend off a surging Westwood. After opening in 76, the Englishman has fired rounds of 69-65 to climb within five strokes of the lead at 6-under-par.
Westwood carded six birdies and an eagle before finding the water on the 18th with his tee shot for his only bogey of the day. He blamed the mishap on a spectator who moved in the middle of his backswing.
'I didn't say anything to the guy,' Westwood said. 'I just gave him one of those glares - the Seve glare! The one that makes you tremble and feel like crawling into the nearest hole.'
Water also resulted in Fulke's lone dropped shot of the day. The Swede found the hazard at the 16th to fall off his perch at the top of the leaderboard. However, Fulke reclaimed a share of the lead by sinking a birdie at the 18th.
'I had a lot of chances, but the putter didn't work,' Fulke said. 'I had a nice birdie to finish from ten feet at the last, but my goal is to win the Volvo Masters which would get me into the WGC-American Express Championship next week.'
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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