Bunker Shots Windy City Walker Cup and un-American wins

By Randall MellSeptember 8, 2009, 4:00 pm

With Arnold Palmer turning 80 on Thursday, his wit and wisdom help frame the storylines for the week ahead.

Memory won’t serve Woods this week

“Putting is like wisdom, partly a natural gift and partly the accumulation of experience.”  – Arnold Palmer

Tiger Woods likes familiar places.

He’s comfortable with what he knows and doesn’t like to wander into unfamiliar golf territory very often.

It’s why his schedule looks so much the same every year and why he wins so many times on the courses he knows best.

That’s why he couldn’t have liked hearing that Rees Jones renovated the greens at Cog Hill outside Chicago, home to this week’s BMW Championship, the third leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs. Woods has won four PGA Tour events there and will be looking to win a fifth to regain his spot atop the FedEx Cup points standings a week after Steve Stricker seized it from him.

Woods putts best when he can putt from memory.

His memory’s been erased this week.

“They are totally different greens,” said Luke Donald, who lives in the Chicago area and played the course two weeks ago. “Nothing is the same.”

Donald said the greens have been rebuilt with distinctive sections, with undulations that must be navigated putting from one section to another.

“If you’re on the right plateau, it’s flat,” Donald said. “If you’re not, you’ll have a few ridges to putt over.”

Mark Wilson, who also lives in the Chicago area, said the greens are dramatically different.

“The greens are much more difficult,” he said. “They are more undulating than what I would have liked. The ninth green is a crazy green. The greens will be a huge factor.”

Woods struggled with the greens at The Barclays in the first week of the Playoffs.


Stricker should feel at home in Chicago
 
“Success in golf depends less on strength of body than upon strength of mind and character.” – Arnold Palmer
 
Stricker should get an enthusiastic welcome when he tees it up as the new No. 1 atop the FedEx Cup points standings at the BMW Championship at Cog Hill outside Chicago this week.

Stricker played at the University of Illinois.

Plus, he’s from Edgerton, Wis., less than a three-hour drive from Cog Hill.

“They’ve changed it now so no one is really familiar with it, but I did win there back in ’96,” Stricker said. “I’m very excited about going there. I imagine I’ll be paired with Tiger again, which is always a lot of fun. I’ll have a big following there. I’m close to home, and I went to school at the University of Illinois, so I’ll be double dipping from both States. I’m looking forward to it, and hopefully I can keep my good play going.”



No. 1 vs. No. 2 head-to-head in the playoffs

“I never quit trying; I never felt that I didn’t have a chance to win.”
– Arnold Palmer

A plus in the FedEx Cup playoffs is that players share tee times in the first two rounds with the players closest to them in the point standings.

That means No. 1 Stricker and No. 2 Woods will be in the same grouping for the fifth and sixth times in these playoffs. No. 3 Heath Slocum will join them again on Thursday and Friday at Cog Hill.

Stricker is cumulatively five shots better than Woods in their four groupings together in these playoffs.

Here’s how Stricker and Woods have fared in first two rounds at The Barclays and the first two rounds at the Deutsche Bank Championship:

Stricker 69 70 63 72

Woods 70 72 70 67



The cruel, final cut awaits

“Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated; it satisfies the soul and frustrates the intellect. It is at the same time rewarding and maddening, and it is without a doubt the greatest game mankind ever invented.” Arnold Palmer

By virtue of his holding the 30th spot in the FedEx Cup point standings, Ian Poulter is the bubble boy this week at the BMW Championship.

The field of 70 will be trimmed to 30 for the Tour Championship.

Poulter is among 30 players at Cog Hill who have never played in the Tour Championship. Angel Cabrera, Paul Casey, Brian Gay, Paul Goydos and Mark Wilson also will be among those seeking to lock up their first trips to the Tour Championship.

Chad Campbell, who has played in the Tour Championship before, has the most work to do to advance to East Lake in Atlanta. He claimed the 70th and final spot into the BMW Championship.


An American drought continues

“I’ve always made a total effort, even when the odds seemed entirely against me.”
– Arnold Palmer

International players will be looking to extend their winning streak in LPGA events to 12 consecutive when the P&G Beauty Northwest Arkansas Championship is played Friday through Sunday at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Ark.

With Norway’s Suzann Pettersen winning the CN Canadian Women’s Open Sunday, 17 weeks have passed since an American has won.

Before this year, Americans had never gone more than 10 consecutive LPGA events in a season without winning since the LPGA was formed in 1950.

Cristie Kerr is the last American to win this year, claiming the Michelob Ultra Open in May.


An Amateur tradition continues

“What other people may find in poetry, I find in the flight of a good drive.” – Arnold Palmer

The Americans lead 33-7-1 in their Walker Cup competition against Great Britain & Ireland, but it’s not as lopsided as it seems.

While the Americans will be going for their third consecutive victory against Great Britain & Ireland when the matches are staged Saturday and Sunday at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa., GB&I has claimed three of the last five and four of the last seven competitions.

Woods likes familiar places.

 

He’s comfortable with what he knows and doesn’t like to wander into unfamiliar golf territory very often.

 

It’s why his schedule looks so much the same every year and why he wins so many times on the courses he knows best.

 

That’s why he couldn’t have liked hearing that Rees Jones renovated the greens at Cog Hill outside Chicago, home to this week’s BMW Championship, the third leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs. Woods has won four PGA Tour events there and will be looking to win a fifth to regain his spot atop the FedEx Cup points standings a week after Steve Stricker seized it from him.

 

Woods putts best when he can putt from memory.

 

His memory’s been erased this week.

 

“They are totally different greens,” said Luke Donald, who lives in the Chicago area and played the course two weeks ago. “Nothing is the same.”

 

Donald said the greens have been rebuilt with distinctive sections, with undulations that must be navigated putting from one section to another.

 

“If you’re on the right plateau, it’s flat,” Donald said. “If you’re not, you’ll have a few ridges to putt over.”

 

Mark Wilson, who also lives in the Chicago area, said the greens are dramatically different.

 

“The greens are much more difficult,” he said. “They are more undulating than what I would have liked. The ninth green is a crazy green. The greens will be a huge factor.”

 

Woods struggled with the greens at The Barclays in the first week of the Playoffs.

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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