The Odyssey

By Randall MellAugust 26, 2011, 12:06 am

ERIN, Wis. – Here’s all you need to know about the epic duel Patrick Cantlay won Thursday at the U.S. Amateur. Here’s all you need to know about his emotionally charged victory in sudden death against fellow U.S. Walker Cupper Russell Henley.

After rolling in a 35-foot eagle at the first playoff hole, Cantlay howled and punched the sky.

UCLA’s gifted sophomore never howls. The NCAA’s Jack Nicklaus Player of the Year never punches the sky. The guy who shot 60 in a PGA Tour event this summer never shows that much feeling. He’s a guy who makes you believe his shot making is programmed by some internal circuit board.

“That is the most emotion I think I’ve ever shown on a golf course,” Cantlay said.

That eagle putt didn’t even win the match, but it kept Cantlay’s terrific comeback going on his way to a 1-up victory over 21 holes in the second round at Erin Hills.

“It is the craziest match I have ever been a part of,” Cantlay said. “If you would have told me all that stuff would happen the way it happened today, I wouldn’t have believed you.”

Cantlay’s reward? He’ll meet England’s Tom Lewis in a third-round match Friday that is every bit as delicious in its anticipation as Cantlay’s match with Henley. Lewis won the Silver Medal as low amateur at the British Open this summer after taking a share of the first-round lead with a 65, the lowest score by an amateur in that championship’s long history.

Cantlay vs. Henley felt like a heavyweight bout.

How tough was it?

Walking to the 11th tee, Henley’s nose started bleeding. He looked like he needed a cut man more than a caddie. He played five holes with a napkin stuffed into his right nostril.

“I got hit in the nose twice in high school playing basketball and ever since, when it gets dry, it seems to start bleeding,” Henley said.

This match was everything it was hyped to be even if it felt as if it came too early in the week as a second-round showdown.

Henley, winner of the 2010 Haskins Award as the nation’s most outstanding collegiate golfer at the University of Georgia, won the Nationwide Tour’s Stadion Classic this summer, becoming only the second amateur to win an event on the PGA Tour’s developmental circuit. He’s graduated but won’t turn pro until after teaming with Cantlay at the Walker Cup in Scotland in two weeks.

The match was drenched with drama the entire back nine, but it reached a fever pitch at the first playoff hole.

“Everyone was going pretty crazy at that point,” Cantlay said.

After Cantlay holed his eagle putt from 35 feet, Henley rolled in a 25-foot eagle on top of him. Back-to-back roars rolled over Erin Hills with the gallery swelling around them. They both knew they were orchestrating something special as they arrived at the tee box for the second extra hole.

“Russell was waiting there, and he says ‘Nice putt,’” Cantlay said. “We both smiled at each other, and we gave each other fist bumps.”

Two up with two to play, Henley lost despite having Cantlay dormie.

Like heavyweight champs, they kept hammering each other with shots. Henley birdied four of the first eight holes, including a run of three in a row. They both shot 4-under-par 68s in regulation with concessions. 

After rolling in a 15-foot birdie at the 16th to go 2 up, Henley looked to have Cantlay beaten. That’s where Cantlay dug deep for some magic. After flaring an 8-iron short of the 17th green, Cantlay had his caddie pull the flagstick before he set up over a 45-foot chip shot. He sent a jolt through the gallery holing it for birdie to win the hole.

At the 18th, Henley pushed his tee shot into a bad patch in a bunker. Cantlay hit the par-5 finishing hole in two and two-putted for birdie to send the match to extra holes.

“In match play I always tell myself I’m going to fight as hard as I can until it’s over,” Henley said.

That’s what Henley did rolling in that eagle putt on top of Cantlay’s at the first playoff hole, but Henley’s day would sour at the third extra hole when both players found trouble. Henley was in perfect position with a wedge in his hand in the middle of the fairway, but he pulled his approach over the green and into deep fescue. Cantlay hit a wedge heavy out of the rough and into trouble on the face of a steep bunker in front of the green.

After Henley barely chunked his chip onto the green, Cantlay hit a marvelous escape, blasting over the steep bunker face to 4 feet. After Henley missed a downhill 20-footer for par, Cantlay holed the winning putt.

The gallery gave them both a long ovation leaving that green.

“Unbelievable match,” Cantlay said.

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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