A. Jutanugarn eyes her first major

By Randall MellJuly 30, 2016, 7:37 pm

WOBURN, England – The tears led her here.

The ache Ariya Jutanugarn endured losing the ANA Inspiration back in April has led her to this Sunday finish at the Ricoh Women’s British Open.

This is where she took all the hard lessons learned in her collapse at Mission Hills and aimed them.

With a bogey-free 6-under-par 66 Saturday, Jutanugarn gives herself another chance to close out a lead in a major championship. At 16-under 200, she gives herself a chance to win her first major. She’s two shots ahead of Mirim Lee (69) and five ahead of Mo Martin (69).

“This is definitely her major to win if she can keep doing the things she did today,” said Gary Gilchrist, her swing coach. “This is a woman with enormous talent and ability. She’s swinging so positively, aggressively through the ball. It’s awesome to watch.”

Jutanugarn, 20, put on a power show even without a driver in her bag. She hit a 9-iron from 172 yards at the third hole to make birdie. She ripped a couple 2-irons past playing partner Catriona Matthew’s driver, but Jutanugarn also showed she’s about more than raw strength. This woman has a delicate touch around the greens. She missed three greens Saturday and got up and down every time. She chipped in from 100 feet at the eighth hole for birdie. She holed a 30-footer for birdie at the 10th hole, saved par burying a 10-foot putt at the 13th,  and dropped another 25-footer for birdie at the 14th.

“I didn’t hit my irons that good, but I made six birdies today,” Jutanugarn said. “I made a few long putts today.”

Ricoh Women’s British Open: Articles, photos and videos

Jutanugarn is among the leaders in every statistical category this week.

She’s 15th in driving distance without hitting a single driver. She’s seventh in fairways hit. She’s eighth in greens in regulation and sixth in putting.

Those all-around stats aren’t just a testament to Jutanugarn’s gifts. They’re a testament to her resolve.

Jutanugarn’s story is an impressive tale of reconstruction.

Exactly one year ago, she left the Women’s British Open at Trump Turnberry feeling miserable, frustrated having missed the cut.

It was her 10th consecutive missed cut.

A former teenage Thai phenom, she was lost.

Her confidence was gone.

She could barely keep her driver in play, and that was making her play with a fear she never felt before.

“I started playing scared,” Jutanugarn told GolfChannel.com last month. “I was scared I was going to miss cuts and focused on that.”

Jutanugarn went to work making herself competitive again, so much so that she got herself in contention at this year’s first major. She started Sunday at the ANA Inspiration one shot off the lead and built herself a two-shot lead with three holes to go. She looked unbeatable until her mind began racing down the stretch. She said she wasn’t nervous all day until those final holes. She stumbled home with three straight bogeys, snap-hooking her final tee shot into a lake to lose to Lydia Ko.

The loss was a large setback.

And so from there, another reconstruction began.

In tears in the Mission Hills clubhouse, she told her sister, Mo, she was going to do everything she could to learn to close out a victory under pressure. With the help of Vision 54s Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott, she came up with a new routine. Nilsson and Marriott showed her that while some players get too slow under pressure, she was getting too quick. They gave her a pre-shot smile as a trigger to calm her, slow her down and keep her in the moment.

Other players  have seen it work wonders.

“I think maybe she had been getting down on herself, but you can see the change in her demeanor,” Martin said. “She’s more positive, and there’s something so calm about her.”

Lexi Thompson sees the same thing.

“We’ve seen a different mentality from her on the golf course,” Thompson said. “You can really see it in her pre-shot routine. She has that smile. She really seems to get in a good place before she even walks into the shot.”

Gilchrist says Jutanugarn didn’t need major fixes to her swing when she came to him early in the spring, about the same time she went to work with Nilsson and Marriott on her mental game.

“It was more a mental hurdle for her than physical,” Gilchrist said.

Gilchrist says Jutanugarn is finding confidence in a good plan.

“Honestly, I think all she needed is for somebody to tell her everything’s going to be OK,” Gilchrist said. “For me, the key for a player is trust in what they’re doing.”

Jutanugarn’s trusting the plan, and that seems to be allowing all her gifts to come out.

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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.