Taming the Monster

By Randall MellMarch 11, 2011, 6:25 am

WGC-Cadillac ChampionshipDORAL, Fla. – Martin Kaymer looked determined to extend his reign as the No. 1 player in the world during Thursday’s first round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship.

He hit every fairway but one over the 10 holes he played before play was suspended with darkness falling. He hit every green in regulation but one. He one-putted seven times and was 5 under, just two shots off the lead when the horn blew halting the round.

“A fantastic start,” Kaymer said. “It was not that difficult today.

“A bunch of people are under par, and a bunch of people are 3 or 4 under. It doesn’t seem that difficult.”

Somebody run up a white flag over the Blue Monster.

The old beast got beat up in the first round.

Martin Kaymer and Luke Donald
Martin Kaymer one-putted seven times in 10 holes on Thursday. (Getty Images)
First Mother Nature tore through, with a fierce storm’s 55-mph winds blowing apart the “Monster” leaderboard overlooking the 18th green and knocking over two TV towers, a ShotLink tower and a bunch of trees. When the weather subsided and the winds calmed, the world’s best players took their turns tearing up the place.

Forty-four players were under par in the 66-player field when play was suspended at 6:17 p.m. ET.

Hunter Mahan is the leader at 7 under and still has seven holes to finish when the first round resumes at 8:30 on Friday morning. He birdied six of his first eight holes. With a good weather forecast Friday, Mahan is looking like he’ll have a chance at the course-record 61 Stephen Ames shot in 2000.

A week after being pummeled at PGA National in the Honda Classic, golf’s best are delivering the blows.

“Good players and a good golf course and benign conditions, you're going to have some good scores,” Mahan said.

Kaymer was in a marquee grouping featuring the No. 1, No. 2 (Lee Westwood) and No. 3 (Luke Donald) players in the world. They looked deserving of their lofty status. Donald equaled Kaymer at 5 under with Westwood right behind at 4 under.

The trio put on a terrific display of shot making for a smallish gallery. With swarms of fans hustling after the Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Graeme McDowell threesome, the world’s top three players pulled fewer than 100 fans around the course despite playing much better golf.

It didn’t matter, though, the folks who did follow Nos. 1-2-3 were treated to an entertaining show.

Scott Dunlap, a Champions Tour pro who nearly won at Doral in 1999, followed the top trio as part of the gallery. He marveled at how easy Kaymer was making the game look.

“He looks as natural and unthinking as Tiger Woods makes it look difficult with too much thinking,” Dunlap said.

Woods struggled early, making a bogey while failing to make a birdie over his first nine holes before rallying with two birdies after making the turn. Woods is 1 under through 15 holes.

Dunlap, who played the PGA Tour when Woods was at the height of his powers, said he’s surprised how difficult the game looks now for Woods.

“He was the best in the world,” Dunlap said. “I don’t understand how he goes to something that does not even resemble what he was doing when he was at his best. Tiger had it, he doesn’t have it anymore.”

Kaymer’s got the No. 1 ranking, and Westwood’s the only player who can take it away from him this week. Kaymer doesn’t look like he’s going to make it easy for Westwood, who can seize back the top ranking with a victory, no matter what Kaymer does. Westwood has a chance to overtake Kaymer by finishing among the top four at Doral, depending how Kaymer finishes.

The battle for No. 1 promises to be a birdie fest with the Blue Monster flying a white flag.

Follow Randall Mell on Twitter @RandallMell

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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
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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.