Munoz tied for Lotte lead after 36 holes

By Randall MellApril 20, 2012, 2:50 am

Azahara Munoz wasn’t looking to catch one of those big waves on Oahu’s famed North Shore this week.

She rode one to the Lotte Championship.

She’s been riding high since her clutch finish helped the Europeans upset the Americans in Ireland at the Solheim Cup last fall.

With an 8-under-par 64 at Ko Olina Golf Club on Thursday, the lowest round of her young LPGA career, Munoz moved into a tie for first place with Ai Miyazato midway through the second round.

Munoz, 24, is seeking her first LPGA title. She says she is still feeling the momentum gained with her dramatic Solheim Cup finish.

“I have been playing better since the Solheim Cup,” Munoz told in a phone interview after her round. “It made me believe I can come through when I have to come through.”

In that thrilling European rally late in the Solheim Cup matches, Munoz secured a vital point in a singles victory against Angela Stanford. Munoz did it in breathtaking fashion. With Europe’s back against the wall near day’s end, with Munoz’s match all square, she carved an 8-iron to 5 feet at the 17th hole. Munoz made birdie there to win the hole. The clutch play put a jolt into Killeen Castle, helping Europe win.

In the month after that victory, Munoz finished third at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia and tied for second at the Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship.

Closing out a Solheim Cup victory can feel like closing out a major.

Munoz, a Spaniard, hopes that experience will help her claim her first LPGA title.

“I think it’s really going to help,” Munoz said. “I have been close to winning an LPGA tournament, but not really close. I can’t wait to be in that position.”

Munoz was the LPGA’s Louise Suggs rookie of the year two seasons ago. She distinguished herself before that at Arizona State University, where she won the NCAA individual title and helped her team to the national crown. Though she didn’t speak English when she arrived at ASU, she ended up graduating Summa Cum Laude with a degree in psychology.

In Thursday’s second round at Ko Olina, Munoz gave herself a nice psychological boost at the sixth hole. She holed a wedge there from 102 yards for an eagle 2.

“It was funny,” Munoz said. “My caddie was telling the ball to sit, I was telling it to go, and it went in the hole. It really got me going.”

Munoz closed hard, making birdies at four of her last five holes.

Confident in her ball striking, Munoz said she has been frustrated with her putting of late. Still, she tied for 15th at the Kraft Nabisco Championship and tied for 12th at the Kia Classic in her last two starts.

“I have always been really good ball striker, but my putting hasn’t been as good,” Munoz said. “The last two tournaments, in San Diego and at Kraft, I hit the ball well, but my putting was so bad. So the last two weeks, I’ve hardly hit any balls. I’ve been working really hard on my putting, and now I’m rolling the ball much better.”

A hot putter might be all Munoz needs to lock down that first victory.

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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