Nordqvist (61) hot as the Phoenix weather

By Randall MellMarch 19, 2017, 2:16 am

PHOENIX – Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist picks a strange place to call her second home, but she loves it in the desert.

Nordqvist, who was born and raised in Eskilstuna, Sweden, couldn’t have been more comfortable in the record 95-degree heat Saturday at Wildfire Golf Club. She shot a tournament record 11-under-par 61 to bolt to the top of the leaderboard at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

Nordqvist was a star at Arizona State.

“They always say that home is where the heart is, and my heart is definitely still here,” Nordqvist said.

At 21-under 195, Nordqvist broke the 54-hole Founders Cup record by two shots. That’s also how many shots she’s ahead of a pair of very familiar pursuers, Ariya Jutanugarn (66) and Stacy Lewis (66).

Nordqvist played in the shadow of Jutanugarn and Lewis in the first two rounds but hung close enough to catapult past them with her torrid run in the third round.

“I think we were 36 under par as a group for the first two days,” Nordqvist said. “Someone seemed to be birdieing almost every hole.”

Nordqvist will be back with Jutanugarn again in Sunday’s final round. Lewis will be paired with So Yeon Ryu, who shot 64 on Saturday to move three shots back.

A hot putter helped Nordqvist climb over 12 players in the third round. She’s bogey free this week and needs a 65 Sunday to get to 28 under and break the LPGA’s 72-hole scoring record.

A six-time LPGA winner with a major championship to her credit, Nordqvist didn’t have to look far for comfort Saturday. She was followed by a half dozen Scandinavians, one wearing a Viking helmet.

Terje Erga, a Norwegian, wore the helmet with a pair of horns protruding from it. He is hosting a group of fellow Norwegians and a Swedish pro who have adopted Nordqvist as one of their own.

“We’re big fans,” Erga said.

They let out a noisy howl at the 18th when Nordqvist putted out for her record 61.

Nordqvist is surrounded by supporters this week. She is staying with friends she met in college.

“I have friends here who seem like family,” Nordqvist said. “I just always feel special coming back here.”

So does Lewis, who has a victory, two seconds and a T-4 finish in her last four starts at Wildfire Golf Club.

This feels like a comfortable place for Lewis to break through and win her 12th LPGA title, her first in 33 months. She’s a large supporter of both the LPGA founders and LPGA-USGA Girls Golf, the two entities celebrated this week. Lewis helped fund a documentary about the 13 women who founded the LPGA and is listed as one of its executive producers. She also has been a Girls Golf ambassador.

“I love this week,” Lewis said. “I love not only the founders here, but the kids with Girls Golf. I've had two girls follow me around all week.”

Jutanugarn is seeking her sixth LPGA title in a little more than 10 months. Like Nordqvist, she hasn’t made a bogey all week.

“I really like this course,” Jutanugarn said. “I’m just going to try to have some fun tomorrow.” 

Getty Images

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

Getty Images

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.