Lewis after 67: 'It was such an easy day'

By Randall MellJune 19, 2014, 8:19 pm

PINEHURST, N.C. – Stacy Lewis took her time in the practice rounds getting ready for the U.S. Women’s Open this week.

It wasn’t so much the extra balls she was hitting, but all the extra time she was taking to sign autographs as she made her way around Pinehurst No. 2.

Joe Hallett, Lewis’ swing coach, couldn’t help asking her about it.

“I’m just building a lot of good karma out here,” Lewis said.

All that goodwill Lewis built came flooding back to her Thursday in a brilliant start to this historic week. With a 3-under-par 67, Lewis shot to the top of the leaderboard among those off in the morning wave. She is hoping to pick up where Martin Kaymer left off when he won the U.S. Open here last week. She might not be as far out front as Kaymer was early, but, like Kaymer, she seemed to be playing a different course than everyone else.

“It was such an easy day,” Lewis said.

Somebody cover the ears of the USGA executive director Mike Davis, who oversees setups. Easy? Well, yeah, when you hit every fairway except one, and every green in regulation except one, it feels easy. That wasn’t the case for most of the women slugging it around Pinehurst No. 2.

U.S. Women’s Open: Articles, videos and photos

Don’t tell world No. 2 Inbee Park it was easy. The defending champion opened with a 76, nine shots worse than Lewis and just two better than 11-year-old Lucy Li.

Park, winner of the first three majors last year, walked off Pinehurst No. 2 bewildered over how many shots got away from her around those turtleback greens. When Park won the U.S. Women's Open a year ago, she bested Lewis by 12 shots in their pairing together over the first two rounds. Lewis seems determined to return the favor this week. They're playing together again.

“It’s beyond disappointment,” Park said. “It happened so quickly, I don’t know what happened. I was just really shocked at how the golf course played. I didn’t feel like I played horrible, but the score is bad. It’s so easy to make a lot of big numbers here.”

Tell Emma Talley about it. The U.S. Women’s Amateur champ had a share of the early lead but needed three shots to get out of the bunker in front of the fifth green and made triple bogey. She shot 75 playing alongside Lewis and Park.

With the U.S. Women’s Open being played for the first time on the same venue as the U.S. Open in back-to-back weeks, Lewis would relish following the Kaymer script in a wire-to-wire victory.

“I liked watching the men last week,” Lewis said. “I like to hit a cut a lot like Kaymer does. So on a lot of those holes, it was cool to see the plan I had laid out in my head. He was kind of doing the same thing. So it was nice coming into the week, knowing that my plan was going to work on this golf course.

“I thought that somebody can run away with this. If you're hitting the ball well enough, you can definitely run away with it. At the same time, you have to know par is a good number and keep grinding away.”

Kaymer opened with back-to-back 65s and never looked back in his eight-shot runaway. Like Kaymer, Lewis came here with a hot hand. She has two LPGA titles already this season and has finished among the top 10 in all but two of her 13 starts this year. That form doesn’t bode well for a field that knows how she can close.

“Stacy is playing unbelievable,” said Juli Inkster, who opened with a 71. “I don't know if anybody can catch her.”

Before Lewis headed out to the first tee early Thursday morning, she bumped fists with Hallett, her swing coach.

“Remember, brains equal birdies,” Hallett told her.

Nobody played smarter than Lewis on Thursday. With the course playing dry and firm in what felt like a furnace, with temperatures rising to 96 degrees, Lewis was the only player who didn’t make a bogey in the morning wave. She never got herself in trouble hitting 17 of 18 greens and 13 of 14 fairways.

“She didn't make many mistakes today, from tee to the green,” Park said. “She was really good at making clutch par putts today. I think that was really strong part of her game today.”

Lewis, 29, a two-time major championship winner, tied for third in the first U.S. Woman’s Open she ever played back in 2008 at Interlachen. Having just turned pro that summer, she led through 54 holes before faltering in a final-round 78. She hasn’t finished better than a tie for 14th in this championship since.

Every part of Lewis’ game, however, is becoming more suited to winning majors. She wasn’t a terrific putter when she joined the tour, but she leads the tour in putts per greens in regulation this year, ranking just ahead of Park. She was middle of the pack in driving distance when she joined the tour. She ranks 16th in driving distance today, hitting the ball farther and higher than she ever has. She is even working diligently on her demeanor, on being calmer and less upset in a round when circumstances turn against her. She thinks it's an integral component in winning majors, especially a U.S. Women's Open. She has noted how cool and unshakeable all the South Korean winners of the U.S. Women's Open seem, and they have won five of the last six of them.

Inkster sees how driven Lewis is to be the best.

“She's got the heart for it,” Inkster said. “She's got the want. She wants it. Golf right now is a big part of her life. She wants to be No. 1. There's a lot of people out there who say they want to be No. 1, but I'm not really sure they really do. She wants to be. I think it's great for our tour. She's a phenomenal player.”

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
Getty Images

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.

PGA Tour suspends Hensby for anti-doping violation

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 8:02 pm

Mark Hensby has been suspended for one year by the PGA Tour for violating the Tour’s anti-doping policy by failing to provide a sample after notification.

The Tour made the announcement Monday, reporting that Hensby will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

The statement reads:

The PGA Tour announced today that Mark Hensby has violated the Tour Anti-Doping Policy for failing to provide a drug testing sample after notification and has been suspended for a period of one year. He will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

Hensby, 46, won the John Deere Classic in 2004. He played the Web.com Tour this past year, playing just 14 events. He finished 142nd on the money list. He once ranked among the top 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking but ranks No. 1,623 today.

The Sunshine Tour recently suspended player Etienne Bond for one year for failing a drug test. Players previously suspended by the PGA Tour for violating the anti-doping policy include Scott Stallings and Doug Barron.

The PGA Tour implemented revisions to its anti-doping program with the start of the 2017-18 season. The revisions include blood testing and the supplementation of the Tour’s prohibited list to include all of the substances and methods on the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited list. As part of this season’s revisions, the Tour announced it would also begin reporting suspensions due to recreational drug use.

The Tour said it would not issue further comment on Hensby's suspension.