Bunker Shots International Flair

By Randall MellJuly 20, 2010, 6:01 pm

Blasting into the week ahead, from another major event in Scotland to French, Canadian and Scandinavian tests.


PGA Tour (75x100)

RBC Canadian Open

You can’t always judge the appeal of a PGA Tour field by the world rankings.

That’s the case at the RBC Canadian Open, where the most popular players in the field aren’t among the top 80 in the world. Fred Couples, John Daly and David Duval remain strong draws folks want to see. Canadian Mike Weir is No. 82 in the world, but he will be the biggest draw of all as he bids once more to win his national open. Paul Casey and Luke Donald are the highest ranked players competing at Nos. 8 and 9 in the world, respectively. Retief Goosen, Tim Clark, Hunter Mahan, Camilo Villegas, Sean O’Hair, Ricky Barnes, Matt Kuchar also spice the field with veterans Paul Azinger and Rocco Mediate in the mix.

Bunker shot: How is it that Weir makes his 20th start in the Canadian Open this week? And that he’s 40 now? The still youthful looking Canadian can script a wildly popular story if he manages to break through and win this event for the first time. Though he missed the cut the first nine times he played the Canadian Open, Weir has managed three top-10s in his last seven tries. With the Canadian Open being played at St. George’s Golf and Country Club outside Toronto for the first time since 1968, there’s some odd mojo in Weir’s favor. Bob Charles won that year. Like Weir, Charles plays left-handed. Weir’s got some momentum to change, though. He’s missed cuts in four of his last six starts and has just one top-10 finish this season. 

Mell’s picks: Winner – Luke Donald. Contender – Retief Goosen. Darkhorse – Stephen Ames.

  • Course: St. George’s Golf and Country Club, Toronto, Canada. Par 70, 7,046 yards (Designed by Stanley Thompson and opened in 1929).
  • Purse: $5.1 million (winner’s share, $918,000).
  • TV times: Thursday-Friday, Golf Channel, 3-6 p.m., replays 8:30-11:30 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, CBS, 3-6 p.m.
  • Last year: Nathan Green defeated Retief Goosen on the second hole of a playoff.


Champions Tour

Senior Open Championhsip

It’s the first of back-to-back Champions Tour majors.

After a week at Carnoustie, the senior circuit will head back to the states for next week’s U.S. Senior Open at Sahalee outside Seattle. For a select group at St. Andrews, it’s the second of three consecutive majors.

Bunker shot: Mark Calcavecchia and Tom Lehman looked more than ready to claim a senior major with their “warm-ups” at St. Andrews last week. The challenge is less daunting this week with the dominant Fred Couples skipping the trip overseas to play the RBC Canadian Open. Still, Tom Watson, winner of five British Open titles and three senior British Open titles, is expected to bounce back strong after missing the cut at St. Andrews last week. Seven of his eight previously mentioned major championship titles were claimed in Scotland. He won at Carnoustie in ’75.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Corey Pavin. Contender – Tom Lehman. Darkhorse – Tom Pernice Jr.

  • Course: Carnoustie Golf Links, Carnoustie, Angus, Scotland. Par 71, 6,785 yards (Designed by Alan Robertson 1850, Old Tom Morris 1867).
  • Purse: $2 million (winner’s share, $315,600).
  • TV times: Thursday-Friday, TNT, noon-2 p.m. Saturday, 1:30-3 p.m., ABC; Sunday, ABC, 1-3 p.m.
  • Last year: Loren Roberts defeated Mark McNulty and Fred Funk in a playoff.


LPGA Tour _new

Evian Masters

Paula Creamer’s back in action after her inspiring U.S. Women’s Open victory two weeks ago.

Creamer, who never looked better winning her first major at brutish Oakmont despite her still sore reconstructed left thumb, is part of a strong field playing for a giant purse in France. The nature of the event makes it feel like the women’s fifth major with players getting ready for next week’s Ricoh Women’s British Open.

The top 24 players in the world are all committed to the Evian Masters and competing for $3.25 million, which equals the U.S. Women’s Open as the largest purse in women’s golf. The 111-player field isn’t as large as the LPGA’s full-field events but it’s an expanded field with 20 players more than a year ago.

Bunker shot: The fight for No. 1 continues to be the story within the story again this week with Creamer looking to move up from her No. 7 ranking with another victory. Ai Miyazato, Evian’s defending champ, regained the No. 1 ranking from Cristie Kerr by ten thousandths of a decimal point in this week’s new rankings. Though neither player teed it up last week, Miyazato’s average jumped over Kerr’s based on points they lost within the two-year rolling window of the rankings. Watch out for Suzann Pettersen if she gets her putter working before next week’s Women’s British Open. She’s No. 3 in the world with a chance to become the fifth different player to hold the No. 1 ranking this year. Pettersen’s ball striking was phenomenal at the U.S. Women’s Open, but she left saying she could have putted better blindfolded.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Paula Creamer. Contender – Ai Miyazato. Darkhorse – Helen Alfredsson.

  • Course: Evian Masters Golf Club, Evian-les-Bains, France. Par 72, 6,344 yards (Originally opened in 1904, renovated by Cabell B. Robinson in 1990).
  • Purse: $3.25 million (winner’s share, $487,500).
  • TV times: Golf Channel, Thursday-Friday, 6:30-8:30 p.m., replay midnight-2 a.m. following Thursday’s round; Saturday, 1-4 p.m., replay 9:30-11:30 p.m. Sunday, 1-4 p.m., replay 9:30-11:30 p.m.
  • Last year: Ai Miyazato broke through to win her first LPGA event, defeating Sophie Gustafson in a playoff.


2009 European Tour

Nordea Scandinavian Masters

Jesper Parnevik, one of Sweden’s favorite sons, hopes to return to action in his homeland this week.

Parnevik dropped out of the Northern Trust Open in February with severe back pain. That was his last PGA Tour start and he’s said he’s still uncertain how the back will hold up in his return. He had hip surgery in the middle of last season. He won the Scandinavian Masters in 1995 and ’98.

Bunker shot: A year ago, Louis Oosthuizen could probably have sneaked in and out of the Scandinavian Masters unnoticed. He’ll get a good feeling just how much his life’s changed this week. He’s suddenly a headliner thanks to his virtuoso performance winning the British Open Sunday by a whopping seven shots. He headlines a nice crop of up-and-coming stars in the Swedish event. Americans Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler also are in this week’s field, as are Italy’s Edoardo Molinari, winner of the European Tour event the week before the British Open, and Spain’s Pablo Martin, who three years ago became the first amateur to win a European Tour event.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Dustin Johnson. Contender – Edoardo Molinari. Darkhorse – Peter Hedblom.

  • Course: Bro Hof Slott Golf Club, Stockholm, Sweden. Par 72, 7,365 yards (Designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. and opened in 2007).
  • Purse: 1.6 million euros (winner’s share, 333,330 euros).
  • TV times: Golf Channel, Thursday-Friday, 8:30-11:30 a.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 7:30-10:30 a.m.
  • Last year: Argentina’s Ricardo Gonzalo won by two shots.


Nationwide Tour

Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational

Thirteen events remain before the season-ending Nationwide Tour Championship.

The top 60 on the money list earn their way in, where the top 25 at event’s end win PGA Tour cards.

Bunker shot: Tommy Gainey  became the first two-time winner of the Nationwide Tour this season with his victory last week at the Chiquita Classic. He’s bidding this week to win a third time and become the 10th player in Tour history to earn a same-season promotion to the PGA Tour. Michael Sim did it last year in the middle of August.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Kevin Chappell. Contender – Gavin Coles. Darkhorse – Joe Affrunti.

  • Course: Ohio State University Golf Club, Scarlet Course, Columbus, Ohio. Par 71, 7,455 yards (Designed by Alister MacKenzie and opened in 1938, Jack Nicklaus oversaw a restoration in 2005).
  • Purse: $800,000 (winner’s share, $144,000).
  • TV times: Thursday-Friday, Golf Channel, 12:30-2:30 p.m., replay 2-4 a.m.; Saturday, Golf Channel, 6:30-9:30 p.m., replay 2-4 a.m.; Sunday, 7:30-9:30 p.m., replay midnight-2 a.m.
  • Last year: Derek Lamely’s 6-under-par 65 helped him come from eight shots back in the final round and win. He defeated amateur Rickie Fowler 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