Surprise candidate emerges in LPGA commissioner search

By Randall MellOctober 17, 2009, 1:35 am

LPGA Tour _newJonathan Ward has quietly emerged as a serious candidate in the LPGA’s three-month search for its next commissioner, according to golf industry sources.

Ward is a golf outsider whose ascent in the interview process has taken industry observers by surprise because he doesn’t have the “ideal experience” the headhunting firm Spencer Stuart identified in the “position and candidate specification” document it released when the commissioner’s search was launched. Ward has not worked in the golf or professional sports business.

Ward, 55, is the senior adviser at the investment firm Kohlberg & Co., and has led corporations before as chief executive officer of ServiceMaster and president and chief operating officer of R.R. Donnelley & Sons. Before moving to Kohlberg & Co. three months ago, Ward was the managing director of the investment banking firm Lazard Freres & Co. He has served on the board of directors of Sara Lee since October of 2005.

Not on the search committee’s radar until he earnestly reached out to LPGA officials, Ward won himself an interview, according to sources. Ward made contact with a number of LPGA insiders, impressing them with his corporate expertise, vision and passion to make a difference. He’s impressed the search committee enough that he’s believed to have joined U.S. Golf Association chief business officer Peter Bevacqua among the finalists for the job.

The LPGA search has been tightly guarded with few names emerging from the candidate’s list.

Bevacqua has been believed to be the frontrunner for the job since WNBA commissioner Donna Orender announced she was not interested in the position. Orender and Bevacqua fit the “ideal experience” the search committee sought. The committee identified “business leadership experience in golf or a sports company' as important and 'a passion for and understanding of golf and the relationships within the golf industry' as required.

Ward did not return a message at his New York office seeking comment. He graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a degree in chemical engineering and also completed the Harvard Business School Advanced Management Program.

Carolyn Bivens was forced out as commissioner in a player revolt in July. She joined the tour after making her name as an advertising executive at USA Today and later president of a media services agency. When Bivens was forced out, the tour had just 13 tournaments under contract for next year.

Marty Evans moved up from the LPGA Board of Directors to become acting commissioner and led a rally that has seen the number of events under contract for 2010 grow to 18. The tour is projecting it will feature a schedule of 23 to 25 tournaments next year. That’s a drop from 27 this year and 34 a year ago. The tour hasn’t put out a schedule with fewer than 25 tournaments since 1971.

Total prize money for LPGA pros could plunge to as low as $40 million next season, according to industry experts. That would be more than $24 million less than the women played for last year.

All of that brings into focus the importance of the tour’s next hire as commissioner.

“It is the most important hire in the tour’s history,” said one LPGA insider. “With all the mistakes they’ve made, the tour can’t mess this up. They’ve got to take the time to make sure they get the right person.”

The LPGA hasn’t revealed when it will announce the hire of its next commissioner, but sources expect the announcement to come before the season-ending LPGA Tour Championship begins on Nov. 19.

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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