McIlroy poised to take No. 1 ranking

By Randall MellMarch 3, 2012, 1:10 am

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Rory McIlroy is positioning himself to take over the world.

With an easy-looking 3-under-par 67 Friday, McIlroy moved a shot off the lead at the Honda Classic. Tom Gillis and Justin Rose are tied at 8 under, with McIlroy at 7 under. Tiger Woods, who shot a 68 on Friday, is at 1 under.

McIlroy, the 22-year-old wonder boy from Northern Ireland can seize the No. 1 world ranking by winning this event.

He isn’t sure it will happen this weekend, but he’s confident he is ready for it.

The two Rory-fanatics alongside the ropes at the 15th hole Friday can attest to that. Dressed in wild, curly Rory wigs, Brett Cairns, 22, and Andrew Zanatta, 26, of Toronto proudly waved down McIlroy to show off their crazy get-ups.

Stenciled on the front of their shirts were these words: “Kiss me, I’m Rory McIlroy.”

The Rory-fanatics spun around as McIlroy passed so he could see what they stenciled on the back: “Official World Ranking as of 3/5/2012 – 1. Rory. 2. Donald. 3. Westwood.”

McIlroy loved it.

“Shouldn’t be too long, fellas,” Zanatta said. “That’s what he told us.”

McIlroy’s confidence is blossoming, but he isn’t assuming anything, especially here on PGA National’s treacherous Champion Course. McIlroy remembers what happened here on Saturday last year. He was trying to position himself for a Sunday run when he stumbled through the Bear Trap with three double bogeys in a row. He rinsed three shots on that trio of holes.

“This golf course can make average golf look like very bad golf very suddenly,” McIlroy said. “So this course isn’t about making tons of birdies. It’s about keeping the big numbers off your card.”

McIlroy shot 77 here on Saturday a year ago and ended up tying for 70th.

“I got on a little run of pars there for a few holes today and just tried to keep telling myself not to get frustrated, because par on this golf course isn’t that bad a score,” McIlroy said.

With his eight-shot U.S. Open runaway victory last year, impressive in how it came in the major after his final-round Masters collapse, McIlroy has steadily prepared himself for this chance at No. 1. He started this year finishing second at the Abu Dhabi Championship, an event he might have won if not for a careless two-shot penalty in the second round. He tied for fifth in his next start at the Dubai Desert Classic and finished second at last week’s Accenture Match Play Championships.

In McIlroy’s last nine worldwide starts, he has finished T-5 or better eight times with a victory and five second-place finishes in that mix. McIlroy has four worldwide titles in his short career, but skeptics would like to see him finish off more victories before handing him the game’s crown.

McIlroy wants that, too. He believes he is strengthening all aspects of his game.

“I’m working harder than ever, I think, and I haven't really reaped the rewards of it yet,” he said. “I’ve played three tournaments this year and had a couple of chances to win.  I feel like it’s very close.”

Maybe as close as this Sunday.

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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