Bunker Shots Cell Phone Insanity

By Randall MellAugust 17, 2010, 7:13 pm

Blasting into the week ahead, from cell phone insanity to another senior major ...

PGA TOUR

PGA Tour (75x100)

Wyndham Championship

The PGA Tour moves from Whistling Straits to Desperate Straits this week.

That’s what it feels like with players on the FedEx Cup bubble wanting a chance at the $65 million offered in the Playoffs.

There’s just one player among the top 25 in the world rankings in the Wyndham Championship field – that would be No. 14 Anthony Kim – but the fiercest competition this week is on the lower end of golf’s ladder. This is the last event players can qualify for the FedEx Cup Playoffs. The top 125 in the season-long points race advance.

There’s a potentially noisy little sidebar to the week: This is the event the PGA Tour is allowing fans to bring cell phones to the course as a test. Whoever came up with that idea in the PGA Tour offices must be holding their breath in hopes that there isn't a concert of ring tones breaking through the silent mode.

Every player ranked 111th to 131st in the FedEx Cup standings is teeing it up. Michael Letzig is on the playoff bubble at No. 125. Mike Weir is No. 126. According to pgatour.com, any player 126th to 142nd in points is assured of making the playoffs with a top-10 finish this week.

Fred Couples, David Duval and John Daly are the biggest names in the Wyndham Championship field with Ryan Moore back as defending champ. Moore is part of some Ryder Cup intrigue as a potential captain’s pick bidding to gain American captain Corey Pavin’s attention. Kim’s got something to show, too. He was bumped off the automatic qualifying list last week and needs to show Pavin his surgically repaired thumb will allow him to help the team. Lucas Glover, last year’s U.S. Open winner, also got bumped off the team. A Glover victory this week would certainly get Pavin’s attention.

Bunker shot: What if Tiger Woods didn’t make the FedEx Cup Playoffs? Would they be canceled? For a contingent of fans, they might as well be. It’s not likely Woods will be bumped out of the FedEx Cup playoffs this week, but it should be troubling at PGA Tour offices that it’s even possible. Woods is 108th in the FedEx Cup standings. Only the top 96 are mathematically assured of advancing to the playoffs. You have to believe the playoffs would sustain serious injury in its appeal in future negotiations to extend the system should Woods not qualify for get bounced after the first playoff event.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Fred Couples. Contender – Ryan Moore. Darkhorse – Brandt Snedeker.

Course: Sedgefield Country Club, Greensboro, N.C.

Purse: $5.1 million (winner’s share, $918,000).

TV Times (ET): Thursday-Friday, Golf Channel (3-6 p.m.); Saturday-Sunday, Golf Channel (noon-1:30 p.m.), CBS (2-5 p.m.).

Last year: Ryan Moore won on the third playoff hole, defeating Jason Bohn and Kevin Stadler.


CHAMPIONS TOUR

Champions Tour

Jeld-Wen Tradition

It’s the third major in five weeks for the over-50 circuit.

Fred Couples, however, will miss the second of those majors. He’s teeing it up at the Wyndham Championship on the PGA Tour. While Couples is having a big year in his Champions Tour rookie season, he is majorless. It’s hard to imagine it’s keeping him up at night. He was second at the Senior PGA and second at the U.S. Senior Open in his two starts in majors.

Bunker shot: German engineering is center stage yet again. A week after Martin Kaymer won the PGA Championship, Bernhard Langer bids to win his third consecutive senior major. Langer won the Senior Open three weeks ago and the U.S. Senior Open two weeks ago. Langer’s arguably the hottest player on the planet, so much so that European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie said he’d consider him as a captain’s pick. Some Euro Tour players were skeptical but another Langer victory might make them think again.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Mark Calcavecchia. Contender – Bernhard Langer. Darkhorse – Denis Watson.

Course: Crosswater Club, Sunriver, Ore.

Purse: $2.6 million (winner’s share, $392,000).

TV times (ET): Thursday-Friday, Golf Channel (6:30-9 p.m.); Saturday-Sunday, NBC (4-6 p.m.).

Last year: Mike Reid defeated John Cook on the first playoff hole.


LPGA TOUR

LPGA Tour _new

Safeway Classic

After two weeks off, the LPGA returns to action Friday at Pumpkin Ridge’s Ghost Creek Course in North Plains, Ore.

Every player among the top 10 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings is in the field for the 54-hole event.

Bunker shot: There’s a revolving door atop the women’s game, but it’s dizzyingly good stuff for this tour. When American Cristie Kerr ascended back to the top of the rankings this week, it marked the sixth change at the top in less than four months. That’s more changes than we saw in the first four years of the women’s rankings. The race is so close that players are making moves on off weeks (lost points are a factor in the ranking rolling two-year window). Since Lorena Ochoa retired in late April, Kerr, Jiyai Shin and Ai Miyazato have taken turns at No. 1. Shin’s held the top spot for 11 weeks, Kerr for four and Miyazato for two.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Suzann Pettersen. Contender – Michelle Wie. Darkhorse – Hee Young Park.

Course: Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club’s Ghost Creek Course, North Plains, Ore.

Purse: $1.5 million (winner’s share, $225,000).

TV times (ET): Golf Channel – Friday (12:30-2:30 p.m); Saturday (5:30-8 p.m.); Sunday (5:30-8 p.m.).

Last year: M.J. Hur closed beat Suzann Pettersen and Michele Redman in a playoff.

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