18 holes of memories for new Hall of Famer Park

By Randall MellJune 10, 2016, 3:59 am

SAMMAMISH, Wash. – Inbee Park marched more than 18 holes to qualify for the LPGA Hall of Fame Thursday at the KPMG Women’s Championship.

She marched through a lifetime of memories.

A dutiful daughter, Park listened when her father, Gun Gyu, offered some advice in the morning before she headed out to start the round that would meet the final requirement she needed to enter the LPGA Hall of Fame. He told her it was poetic that she would play 18 holes, because it had been 18 years since he first put a club in her hands back in their native South Korea. He told her to remember what went into each year of the journey as she played her way to the day’s final putt.

“It feels very special because it starts back to when I just started playing golf, watching a lot of players on TV and thinking that I wanted to be there,” Park said. “I wanted to be on the LPGA tour ... I wanted to be up with the greatest players in history.”

Park met the 27-point requirement needed to make it into the most difficult Hall of Fame in sports to qualify for last year, but she needed to make 10 starts this year to meet the 10-year membership requirement. When she tapped in her last putt Thursday at Sahalee Country Club, she officially became the youngest player to be inducted in the LPGA Hall of Fame. At 27, she reached the pinnacle of her sport.

The memories that came flooding back, Park said, helped her appreciate what a Hall of Fame career really encompasses.

“It’s a great feeling because it's not just about major championships or winning tournaments,” she said. “It's not just about the smiles that are in a career. It's about the tears. It's about the frustration. It's about the happiness. It's about the success, everything.”

KPMG Women’s PGA Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Let the record show a final bogey left Park shooting a 1-over-par 72, a score she could be proud of given how tough Sahalee was playing and how difficult inflammation in her left thumb has made it for her to play this year. There were fears these last steps into the Hall of Fame could be an agonizing march because of her injury, but Park rose above the discomfort.

“It was great she got through the way she did, because there was no guarantee that was going to happen,” said Brad Beecher, her long-time caddie. “She battled on through.

“You know how she is when she gets to a major. She just switches into a different gear. That gear switched on, and there was no thought of the thumb. She didn’t mention it at all.”

As Park made her way down the 18th fairway, Beecher told her to relish the walk.

“Enjoy this,” he told her. “You earned every step of it.”

As Park walked off the 18th green, LPGA commissioner Mike Whan handed her a bouquet of 27 white roses, each representing a point required for induction. Then Se Ri Pak, the woman who inspired Park and a legion of South Koreans to play the game, hugged her. Park joins Pak as the only Koreans in the LPGA Hall of Fame.

“I’m very proud of her,” Pak said. “It’s not really easy to do, all the points, the winning.”

Hall of Famers Annika Sorenstam, Karrie Webb, Juli Inkster and Pat Bradley followed Pak in hugging Park.

“She’s a hell of a player, had a great run,” Inkster said. “I think sometimes she doesn’t get the credit she deserves, really proud of her.”

Park enters the LPGA Hall of Fame with 17 victories, seven of them major championships. She was the Rolex Player of the Year in 2013, becoming the first South Korean to claim the award. She won the Vare Trophy for low scoring average in 2012 and ’14.

“I feel truly blessed that my thumb and my body and my mind and everything really held up out there today,” Park said. “I grinded really well out there. Everything kind of really worked the way I wanted to. Obviously, the score is not the greatest, but I definitely am satisfied with the score ... I enjoyed today. I don’t think I would change it for any other round I’ve had in my life.”

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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

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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