England the surprise team of International Crown

By Randall MellJuly 24, 2016, 1:16 am

GURNEE, Ill. – England relishes going up against the Goliaths of golf.

They’re thriving at the UL International Crown, where the Koreans and Americans are supposed to win and everybody else is a long shot.

Spain embraced the role in the biennial international team event two years ago, stunning everyone with a free-spirited blitz through pool play and then a sweep of Sunday singles to claim the inaugural title.

Now England is trying to follow the same script going into Sunday singles.

With a pair of routs of Thailand on Saturday, the English completed their second sweep of fourballs in three days. They clinched Pool B, no matter what happens with the two suspended fourball matches yet to be completed between Korea and Australia. England has lost just one of six matches this week.

The Korea/Australia matches, suspended by a passing storm, will resume Sunday at 8 a.m. ET.

England’s nine points lead the entire field.

“We’re the underdogs,” England’s Mel Reid said. “These are the best countries in the world, some of the best players in the world, and a lot of major champions in there, and we are top of our pool. We should all be very proud of ourselves and we should be taking a lot of confidence in the fact that we've beaten some very high-class players this week.”

As the seventh seed, England is specializing in upsets, although if you ask American Stacy Lewis, there are no upsets in this eight-team format, where fourballs and match play are proving great equalizers.

UL International Crown: Articles, photos and videos

Spain was the fifth seed going into the inaugural International Crown two years ago.

If England wins it all this week, the International Crown is going to feel like Cinderella’s playground.

“With this format, you take a player that's ranked 50 to 100 in the world, and they can go make seven or eight birdies in a round,” Lewis said. “They may not do it for four straight days and win a tournament, but they can do it for one day. That’s why this format, it opens it up for anybody to win. I don't think there's any team that you can say going into it that they're favored or not.”

Lewis was asked if the Americans and Koreans face more pressure than anyone else this week, because the expectations as the favorites are so much greater.

“Maybe last year, we went into it with a little bit of pressure, thinking we had to perform, but what I've realized with this format is that it really opens it to anybody,” Lewis said.

For the English, though, there’s definitely something freeing about an underdog role.

“For me, it’s an exciting opportunity for us,” Reid said. “It’s another team event, another match play situation, and it’s also an opportunity to prove people wrong. No matter what happens tomorrow -- obviously, we're going to give it the best shot that we have – we've proved a lot of people wrong already. I'm extremely proud of how we've done so far.”

Reid and Hull were in the spotlight again Saturday and delivered, defeating Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn and Moriya Jutanugarn, 3 and 1.

Hull was the star in the opening round, leading a sweep of the Americans with six birdies and an eagle in a fourball victory.

Reid was the story of the second round.

With Hull sidelined with an asthma attack on Friday, Reid played solo and nearly beat Japan’s best fourball team by herself, losing to a birdie at the last hole.

On Saturday, with Hull recovered and Reid full of new confidence, they went birdie-eagle-birdie on the back nine to take command of the match.

“I felt fresher today from the first tee; my asthma wasn't as bad,” Hull said. “We played awesome, so it was fun.”

Nobody had more fun than England’s Jodi Ewart Shadoff. She was on fire teaming with Holly Clyburn to rout Thailand’s Pornanong Phatlum and Porani Chutichai. They were 10 under in a nine-hole run in the middle of their round, making eight birdies and an eagle.

Shadoff went birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie in helping England take control.

“I've been striking the ball great for the last few months,” Shadoff said. “I think today was huge for my confidence, with the putts dropping finally. I'm really excited to get out there and play tomorrow.”

Nobody’s been hotter over two rounds, though, than the Americans Lexi Thompson and Cristie Kerr, who defeated Japan’s Ai Suzuki and Ayaka Watanabe, 4 and 2. Thompson and Kerr are a remarkable 22 under par over their last 31 holes.

After getting swept in the opening round, the Americans have won gone 3-0-1. They’re all members of the U.S. team that mounted the largest comeback in Solheim Cup history last fall.

“I think we actually play better with more pressure than less pressure,” Kerr said. “When our backs are up against the wall, we seem to play better.”

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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
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Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

Well, this is a one new one.

According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.