Singh (74) plays through fan insults at Players

By Randall MellMay 10, 2013, 12:51 am

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Vijay Singh nearly escaped Thursday without confrontation.

Competing in The Players Championship in the wake of day-old news that he was suing the PGA Tour, Singh was greeted by galleries with mostly polite applause and even some spirited encouragement.

But there was the guy wearing the deer-antler hat in the first row at the first tee.

There were a couple odd cracks about deer-antler spray and venison.

And there was the boisterous guy who called him a “bum” at the 17th hole.

And there was a last drive-by insult in the 18th fairway by a fan hiking briskly toward the tee box while Singh was marching toward the 18th green.

The fan, who appeared to be in his 20s, turned as he passed Singh and screamed: “Vijay, you suck!”

Singh heard him, and he responded to the fan, who was speed walking away at what seemed record speed. This reporter couldn’t make out Singh’s response, but a marshal following Singh did hear it.

“Vijay said, `Why don’t you come here and say that,’” the marshal stated.

The insult came with Singh on his way to take a drop in the 18th fairway after rinsing his drive in the lake. Whether the insult was commentary on Singh’s errant tee shot or on the lawsuit is unclear, but it provided a jarring end to a reasonably quiet day for Singh.

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Singh shot 2-over-par 74, leaving him tied for 99th, two shots outside the projected cutline.

Really, despite the few taunts, Singh faced less fan outrage than Kevin Na did for his inability to pull the trigger in the final pairing during the fourth round of last year’s Players Championship. Na heard a lot more taunts than Singh did.

With Thursday’s start of The Players, there was natural curiosity over how hometown fans would treat Singh after hearing he was suing the PGA Tour, which is headquartered in Ponte Vedra Beach. Singh lives here, too, and he practically lives on the TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course range on his off weeks.

It was just Wednesday when news broke that Singh had filed a lawsuit accusing the PGA Tour of “reckless administration and implementation of its anti-doping program.” Singh asserts that the Tour exposed him to “public humiliation and ridicule” during a 12-week investigation into his use of deer-antler spray. The Tour ultimately dropped its drug-policy case against Singh.

With Singh signing his scorecard Thursday, an interview request for him was made to PGA Tour media officials. Singh didn’t stop for comment after leaving scoring.

Robert Garrigus was on the front lines when Singh made his first public appearance since news of the lawsuit broke. So was J.J. Henry. They were awkwardly paired with Singh on Thursday.

“There were a few idiots, but, overall, it wasn’t too bad,” said Garrigus, who shot 72. “Security didn’t have to step in.

“The round went fairly smoothly except for a couple of drunk guys who lit him up a little bit, which was pretty stupid. We don’t need that out here.”

When Singh reached the first tee, folks were pouring out of the grandstand in a mass exodus.

At every hole he played his way toward, it was the same thing, mass exodus.

It wasn’t what you think, though. It wasn’t some protest. Singh happened to be playing behind Tiger Woods. Folks were merely scrambling to follow Woods after he hit a shot.

When Singh arrived at the first tee, a man sat quietly wearing a small rack of deer antlers on his hat. It looked like something you would see somebody wear to a Christmas party. The man didn’t say a word to Singh, though, but later told reporters he wore them because he didn’t like the fact that Singh was suing the Tour.

Garrigus managed to get a laugh out of Singh in what could have been an uncomfortable first-tee handshake.

“So, you’re in the spotlight right now, aren’t you big guy?” Garrigus told Singh.

“Yeah, for the wrong reasons,” Singh said, as Garrigus related it.

Garrigus and Singh know each other fairly well.

“I kind of made fun of it today to loosen things up, which I do very well,” Garrigus said. “I talked to Vijay all day. Vijay and I are very friendly. We always have been. We like to talk about cars. It was business as usual.”

Garrigus said he didn’t speak to Singh about the lawsuit after that initial ice breaker.

“I didn’t get into it,” Garrigus said. “I don’t know the details. I don’t know what he’s suing for and all that stuff. He’s obviously earned the respect until everything goes through.”

Though the Singh situation created a sideshow element to the pairing, Garrigus said it didn’t bother his game. He didn’t, however, appreciate those few insults he did hear directed at Singh.

“There was a guy at 17 who called him a bum,” Garrigus said. “There were a couple guys saying `What about that spray?’ Stupid stuff.

“The only thing is he doesn’t deserve that. I don’t know how many majors he has won, how many tournaments he’s won. He’s won a lot of money out here. He deserves our respect as players regardless even if suing PGA Tour or not. It’s a delicate situation.”

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 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.