A Monster Awaits Buick Field

By Mercer BaggsFebruary 5, 2002, 5:00 pm
This weeks Buick Invitational field faces the longest course on tour this season. The South Course at Torrey Pines has been increased to a whopping 7,607 yards.
Famed golf architect Rees Jones rebuilt the course that was designed by William Bell and William Bell, Jr., and completed in 1957.
The goal we had was to build the best facility for the people of the state, the people of the city, as well as the best facility for the best players in the game, Jones said.
More than just length has been added to the layout.
Every green was relocated; every green was re-contoured, rebuilt; every bunker has been relocated; the tees are rebuilt. So basically, its an old golf course on a new routing, Jones said.
The extensive effort was made, in part, to try and convince the United States Golf Association that the venue was worthy of a future U.S. Open.
Thus far, reviews have been very positive.
I asked Pat Perez ' he grew up playing here ' and he didnt know who I was, I said, What do you think of the changes? and he said, Theyre great! recalled Jones.
Its really, really good, said San Diego native and 1998 Buick Invitational champion Scott Simpson. I cant imagine anyone not liking it.
What you have now is a U.S. Open-style course, said two-time defending champion Phil Mickelson.
Definitely harder, said Joey Sindelar, who is making his 17th start in this event. I think its a positive thing.
Jones, who also doctored Bethpage Black, site of this years U.S. Open, completed the South Course changes in just 92 days, with a $3.3 million budget.
I think it is a major venue, Jones said of Torrey Pines. Its got the space; its got the airport; its got the hotel rooms. Now it has a true championship-caliber golf course.
The municipal course is one of two in rotation this week. Each player will compete on both the South and North Courses over the first two days. The South Course will be played exclusively over the final two rounds.
Jones has yet to tackle the 6,874-yard North Course.
Of the South Course changes, Mickelson says the most dramatic was made to the par-5 ninth. What once was a reachable 536 yards is now 613.
It used to be a birdie hole all the way, Mickelson said. Now, I think par would be a good score. I dont think you can get there in two (shots). Thats the biggest change, psychologically.
Jones believes the back nine will be the most telling, particularly the final stretch of holes.
The par-4 12th is now 504 yards ' up from 468. The par-4 14th has been lengthened 37 yards to 435. The par-4 15th has increased 88 yards to 477. Two bunkers have also been added to No. 15 ' one near the right of the fairway landing area and another left of the green.
Fifteen has always been a driver-sand wedge, driver-pitching wedge hole, Mickelson said. By moving the tees back 70 yards, its 480 yards now, and its a driver and a mid-iron. The drive becomes much tighter because we used to be able to get past the trees on the right. We cant do that now. So now we have to thread it between the trees on the right and the trees on the left. Theres only about a 10- or 15-yard window to hit it in and have a clear shot into the green.
Then theres the par-5 18th. What once was a paltry 498 yards is now 571 ' over water.
Its a wonderful layout, a very challenging layout, Mickelson said. Its as long and as hard as just about any golf course Ive seen or played.
Getty Images

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."

Getty Images

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

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm