History Major

By Mercer BaggsJuly 19, 2000, 4:00 pm
He won by 12 at Augusta. He won by 15 at Pebble Beach. Now Tiger Woods is on golf's most sacred ground. And the question persists, will he assault the Old Course in the same manner in which he has other reverent venues?
Woods is a 2-to-1 favorite to capture the career Grand Slam this week in St. Andrews, Scotland, site of this week's 129th Open Championship. It's the lowest odds ever posted in the tournament's history, and it's warranted. Woods has won 14 of his last 26 PGA TOUR starts. He's won two of the last three majors. We won't go into detail what he did at this year's U.S. Open.
Aside from his length, short game, mentality and resume, Woods has something else on his side - history. Every time he tees it up, you know there's a chance you're going to witness something you've never seen before. And wouldn't it be fitting that at just 24 years of age he would become the youngest player to win all four majors on golf's oldest course. Maybe it's not history. Maybe it's destiny.
'If there's any two tournaments you want to win, and have them on specific golf courses, you're going to want to win the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach and win the British Open at St. Andrews,' said Woods.
'It's just ironic it happened to be in the same year, and ironic the fact I get to have the chance to complete the Grand Slam on the most historic golf course ever designed,' he said. 'It's just a wonderful opportunity.'
But, there is hope for the field. The last time Tiger was this prohibitive a favorite was the Masters. He finished 5th. There are also the elements. Woods may have an advantage over his peers in terms of ability and mentality, but in Scotland, Mother Nature reigns supreme. And she's fickle at best.
Then, there's putting. Tiger never three-putted at the 2000 U.S. Open or the 1997 Masters (see opening paragraph). In his last start, Woods took 123 putts through four rounds of the Advil Western Open. He tied for 23rd, his worst finish of the season.
And lest we forget the 155 others in the field. They're not half bad.
At 14 to 1, Ernie Els is the odds-on favorite to finish runner-up to Tiger. He's already accomplished that feat three times this season. He's also finished second in both of the year's first two majors. However, this week there's a new Ernie Els in town. Or, actually, it's an old Ernie Els. One of confidence. One on form. One who's just won. Last week, Els captured the Standard Life Loch Lomond, in what proved to be a dramatic primer to this week's Open. It was his first victory anywhere in nearly 17 months.
Americans have won four of the last five Open Championships, dating back to John Daly's win a St. Andrews in 1995. Last year, Paul Lawrie came from 10 strokes down on Sunday to defeat Jean Van de Velde and Justin Leonard in a playoff. Of course, he did have a little help along the way.
This week, Lawrie is 125-to-1 long-shot to defend in his homeland. The Scot hasn't won since his triumph in Carnoustie. In recent months, he's suffered through a groin injury, which forced him to skip the U.S. Open. Then, on Tuesday, he was struck in the wrist by a child's backswing while conducting a youth clinic. It forced him to skip a scheduled practice round on Tuesday, but the defending champion says he'll be ready come Thursday.
'I normally only have one practice round, so it's not going to do me any damage,' said Lawrie.
As with any major there are a myriad of storylines. There's the ERC driver controversy. How many players will use the club that's legal in Europe, but illegal in the states? Can Nick Faldo continue his reemergence at the site of his second Open championship? How will Sergio Garcia fare a year removed from his 89-83 performance at Carnoustie?
Will Jack Nicklaus make the cut in what could be his final Open appearance? Will David Duval be a factor? Will Duval, Colin Montgomerie or Phil Mickelson earn their first major? Will Lee Westwood make it 3-in-a-row in Europe? What in the world will Daly do? And of course, we can't forget about Van de Velde.
By day's end Sunday, a new chapter in golf history will be completed. As to who writes it, well, we'll have to wait and see. Then again, British bookies will give you 2 to 1 odds it will be Tiger Woods.

  • This week's purse is $4,330,000 (approx.). The winner will collect $787,400 (approx.).
  • Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan, Gary Player and Gene Sarazen are the only four players who have won each of the four current major events.
  • This is the 26th British Open contested on the Old Course at St. Andrews. The first occurred in 1873, when Tom Kidd shot 91-88 to win. John Daly won the last time it was played here in 1995.
  • The British Open didn't become an official PGA TOUR event until 1995.
  • The last player to successfully defend was Tom Watson in 1983.
  • David Gossett, Philip Rowe, Luke Donald and Mikko Ilonen are the only amateurs in the 156-man field.
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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
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Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

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.