In contention, Ko won't change routine

By Randall MellJuly 10, 2016, 1:56 am

SAN MARTIN, Calif. – Lydia Ko remembers her hands shaking so badly she could barely set her ball on her putting line after marking it on the first hole in her first start in a U.S. Women’s Open.

That was back at Blackwolf Run when Ko was 15, but she doesn’t think being nervous really had much to do with her age.

“I said, `Man, why am I so nervous? Why am I not able to control my hands?’” Ko said. “When I look back, it's because it meant a lot. I was super excited to be there playing the championship.

“It just shows how much this championship means to me and means to the women's game and how important it is.”

Ko will tee it up Sunday at CordeValle Golf Club with her first real chance to win the U.S. Women’s Open.

With a 2-under-par 70 Saturday, Ko grabbed the 54-hole lead.

Rolling in a 9-foot birdie putt at the last, Ko moved to 7 under overall, one shot better than Eun Hee Ji (70) and Sung Hyun Park (74). She’s two ahead of Amy Yang (73) and Brittany Lang (68).

Ko says she will be nervous again Sunday trying to win, but she jolted the media center with laughter after being asked how she has learned to handle sleeping on 54-hole leads.

“I go partying,” the strait-laced Ko cracked. “Partying all night, then come straight to the course.

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“No, I think the best thing is to not get out of your routines. I love my sleep, so I know that I'll have a good night's sleep. But nothing different. Nothing special to eat. I want my mom's cooking, and that's it. And that's what I look to do.”

Ko is looking to add to her long list of "youngest ever" achievements.

If she wins, Ko will become the youngest winner of a U.S. Women’s Open at 19 years, 2 months and 16 days old. She would surpass Inbee Park as the youngest by 11 months and 1 day. A victory would also make Ko the youngest man or woman to win three majors, surpassing Young Tom Morris, who was almost 19 years and 5 months old when he won The Open for a third time in 1870.

Ko is going for her third major championship in the last four played.

Yes, Ko’s still so young, playing the U.S. Women’s Open for just the fifth time, but she concedes there has been some frustration trying to claim this prize. Her tie for 12th last year is her best finish in the championship.

“I've always come off after a U.S. Open and said, `Hey, I could have done a little better,’” Ko said. “I always felt like something was missing.

Ko may be only 19, but, remarkably, she is the most seasoned and experienced player on the leaderboard. She has won more majors (2) than the other top seven players on the leaderboard combined (1). She also has won more LPGA titles (13) than those players combined (10).

“I look a lot calmer than what goes on in the inside,” Ko said. “I definitely do get nervous, but I think that's part of it. I think nerves are good because it means you're excited. You're ready. It means a lot to you. Obviously, nerves, you've got to be able to control them.”

In Ko’s first two major championship victories, she came from behind to win in the final round. She didn’t have to sleep on the 54-hole lead. She came from two shots back when she won the Evian Championship last fall to become the youngest winner of a woman’s major. She came from one shot down when she won the ANA Inspiration in April.

Ko’s 0 for 1 trying to hold on to a 54-hole lead.

She took a one-shot lead into the final round of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship last month but was overtaken when Brooke Henderson closed brilliantly and beat her in a playoff.

In Ji and Park, there’s experience and much talent chasing her. Ji, 30, won the U.S. Women’s Open in ’09. Park, 22, is a rising star on the Korean LPGA Tour, winner of last year’s Korean Women’s Open. Park is No. 18 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings and may be the longest hitter in women’s golf.

“You just never know what's going to happen,” Ko said. “To me, in Seattle, I thought I played great, but there was a very low number that Brooke shot. Those things can happen. All I can do is focus on the shot I have in front of me, try my best. What somebody else does is definitely out of my hands. It's hard enough trying to control where my ball ends up. I'm just going to enjoy it.”

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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