A Shared Victory for Virginia Tech
The scene was, at most, subdued. Certainly not what you would expect from a team having just won a championship.
At the same time that its extreme joy, theres a lot of sadness, too.
Those were the words of Ryan Sypniewski, the lone senior on the Virginia Tech mens golf team.
Sunday in New London, N.C., Virginia Tech, six days after the massacre of 32 students on their Blacksburg campus, won a share of the Atlantic Coast Conference Mens Golf Championship.
They did so for the first time since joining the ACC in 2004. They did so by shooting a 9-under 279 on the final day, tying the best performance of the week by any team.
We came out here today (Sunday) and gave it all we had, said sophomore Drew Weaver to ACC Video Services. We said today was for the 32 lives that were lost on Monday.
Virginia Tech tied Georgia Tech for medalist honors. The two teams ended the three-day competition at 10 under. Rather than go into a playoff, it was declared that both teams would share the title.
Sometimes in life things are supposed to work out the way theyre supposed to, Yellow Jackets coach Bruce Helper was quoted as saying. Their kids played an unbelievable event and (had) an unbelievable day.
The Virginia Tech team arrived at the Old North State Club 47th in the Sagarin Team collegiate rankings, without a single player ranked inside the top 180.
They really didnt have much of a chance to win, not in the ultra-competitive ACC, where six teams reside inside the top 25. They just had a lot of hope ' that and bunch of red eyes, scrambled minds and heavy hearts.
Toughest thing Ive ever had to do, Weaver said about trying to center his attention on golf when the tournament began Friday. It took me nine or 10 holes (in the first round) to really get focused. Still, I caught myself having lapses on the golf course every round.
Five back to start Sunday, Hokie players, one by one, came to the par-5 18th needing a little something special in order to have a chance at victory. Three of them made birdie. The other two made par.
It seemed like there was something a little extra out there with us today, something kind of eerie, said Sypniewski, who birdied four of his final seven holes for a 5-under 67. This last hole, definitely with what happened ' the sort of heroics, if you will ' it was eerie.
Added Jay Hardwick, in his 24th season as VT head coach, Im just really so proud of these guys. This week I was more of a father than a friend. They didnt need a lot of coaching this week.
But they got a lot of support. Most of the players in the field wore orange and maroon ribbons, in addition to the blue ribbons they pinned to their shirts and hats in remembrance of former Duke coach Rod Meyers, who died of leukemia on March 30. Some wore black wrist bands in observance of the tragedy. And even the University of Virginia, VTs most dreaded rival, handed their players Tech decals to put on their bags.
The show of support from my fellow coaches, the other teams in the ACC, the Atlantic Coast Conference office and the members and staff at Old North State made it possible for us to get through this week, Hardwick was quoted as saying on hokiesports.com.
As the Virginia Tech players and their coach accepted their medals and posed for pictures with the championship trophy, they did so with reservation. There were smiles and pats on the back, but no loud proclamations, no waving or raising of a single index finger.
This wasnt about one, or being No. 1. This was a shared victory. Not with Georgia Tech, but with all those still grieving back home and those 32 lost on April 16, 2007.
Winning is, coach Hardwick started to say before pausing for composure, taking it back home to the people who deserve it.
It puts everything into perspective. I think thats the word for the week ' perspective, said Sypniewski, the teams captain. It wasnt about making putts or hitting shots; it was about representing our school and representing the people we lost.
I cant wait to get back to Blacksburg.
Email your thoughts to Mercer Baggs
Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test
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."
Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage
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.
Swipe to see what’s up in my world. It’s long-winded.... short version, we lost the baby. Had to share this since we had shared the news already. I know you’re all so supportive and kind. I just couldn’t face it before. Now let’s get back to our regularly scheduled programming. #ihavealotoffeelings #andphotostocatchupon
“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
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