Storys the Same Venues Changed

By Mercer BaggsFebruary 5, 2002, 5:00 pm
The 2001 Buick Invitational could have been filed under the heading: Truth is Stranger than Fiction.
Phil Mickelson was exasperated. Frank Lickliter was shocked. And the viewing audience was dumbfounded.
It was a car wreck, a horror show that you didnt want to watch ' but had to. You covered your eyes with your hand, but separated the middle and ring finger just enough to see what was unfolding.
It was disturbing, yet amusing.
Mickelson shot 6-under 66 on the final day a year ago, just enough strokes to earn a spot in a playoff with Davis Love III (67) and Frank Lickliter (67), both of whom birdied the 72nd hole.
Love was ousted immediately, bogeying the par-3 16th.
Mickelson and Lickliter then moved to the second extra hole, the par-4 17th, where the wackiness ensued.
Teeing off first, Mickelson pushed a driver into the canyon ' lost ball.
Lickliter could see it: the trophy, the winners check, everything hed been working for since turning pro a decade earlier.
But before he could get there, he still had to play the present. And instead of properly assessing the situation, he went with his instincts ' driver. Lickliter kept the big stick in his hand and ripped it ' left, also into the canyon.
Both men hit provisionals. Lickliter, this time, split the fairway. Mickelson, meanwhile, again went left.
Spit it out! he begged.
And the timbers obliged, dropping the ball into the approachable rough. Three shots later, the left-hander was in the hole with a 6.
Once more, it was advantage Lickliter ' or seemingly so. He found the green with his fourth shot and had a 15-footer for bogey and the victory.
Yet his aggressive nature again took control.
Lickliter blew his winning effort four feet past the cup, and then missed the comebacker.
Im in shock right now, Lickliter said at the time. Other than playing a little stupid, I felt I played pretty good. Its tough to swallow.
Said Mickelson: Winning feels great. Ill take it any way it comes.
Mickelsons now looking for three in a row. He also collected his first professional victory at this event in 1993.
After skipping five months to be with his family, he started this year with a win at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic. But, unexpectedly, he missed the cut in last weeks AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
That was surprising, and very disappointing, Mickelson said of his missed cut.
Tuesday, he played a practice round with a pair of San Diego State University players, Mark Warman, 20, and John Leiber, 22. Both qualified for the tournament by beating out 100 others for the two sponsor's exemptions offered yearly by this event.
Leiber nearly aced the 221-yard par-3 11th at the South Course. He then chipped in from the fairway for birdie on the 468-yard par-4 12th. Warman responded with a 110-yard hole-out on the 535-yard par-5 13th.
I dont consider them kids. Theyre older than some of the guys we have on tour, joked Mickelson, who played his first PGA Tour event here as a 17-year-old amateur in 1988.
Though quite familiar with Torrey Pines, Mickelson knows this week will be unlike any other hes played at this venue.
This is a very interesting week, because were going to see the opening of Torrey Pines South, he said.
The South Course has undergone major renovations. Its been extended from 7,055 yards to 7,607. In addition, all the greens and bunkers have been altered.
Mickelson warned not to expect a winning total similar to his 19-under score a year ago.
Its very difficult to make birdies and the greens and the length of the holes on the South makes par a very good score, which is something we havent seen in years past, he said.
I think what you shoot on the North Course (6,874 yards) will be about how many under par youll be for the tournament because I think the South Course, if you can shoot par, thats going to be a good round.
More on the South Course changes
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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