Thank You Notes

By Randall MellDecember 23, 2009, 5:59 am

With so much gloom and doom reported in December, here are notes of thanks to players who provided us some levity in 2009.

Dear Henrik Stenson:

In these hard times, it was encouraging that you could joke about losing your shirt in the Stanford Financial mess. It was, however, flat-out inspiring to see you laugh about losing everything but your boxers and your golf glove at the third hole at Doral. You did that in the first round of the CA Championship in March. Thanks for showing us that if you’re going to get caught with your pants down, it’s better to do it on the golf course, for all the world to see, than in a church parking lot, for a lone photographer to witness. It felt so much better knowing we were laughing with you when you disrobed to hit a shot from the water. There was no guilt or remorse in our laughter when late night comics had their way with you. We knew you were having more fun with it than we were.


Dear Denis Watson:

Though you’ve known a lot of pain in your career, from blown-out joints to heartache, thanks for the sense of humor you’ve offered along your journey, even in your failure this year. After starting the final round too far back to win at the Allianz Championship in your South Florida backyard in February, you shared how your wife, Susan, rooted you around while your five children decided they would stay at home.

“The Valentine’s card they got me said `Play better, Dad,’” you told us.

We knew you were joking, and we laughed with you.


Dear Lance Ten Broeck:

You made us think that that the PGA Tour’s old slogan “These guys are good” ought to extend to the caddies. You made us chuckle at the Valero Texas Open in May not just by becoming the first to play and caddie in the same PGA Tour event, but by beating your boss by three shots. Toting a bag, you helped Jesper Parnevik shoot 70-74. After borrowing a “mystery collection” of clubs, Tag Ridings’ putter, golf shoes from David Duval and a golf glove from Lee Janzen, you shot 71-70 on your own ball. Thanks for showing off in a way that had to make your caddie colleagues proud, if not Parnevik a little embarrassed.


Dear Laura Davies:

Thanks for being one of the best interviews in golf and someone who doesn’t take herself too seriously. With cameras running, you surprised a lot of folks at the Solheim Cup in August when you revealed you weren’t interested in being the European captain someday. “It looks like hard work, and I’ve always shied away from hard work,” you said. We all laughed in the interview room, but we also hoped you would change your mind.


Dear Anthony Kim:

We know current events are not your strong suit. If we didn’t know, we did after you were asked earlier this year how you thought the lousy state of the economy would affect the PGA Tour. “At one of the tournaments this year, we didn’t have courtesy cars,” you said. “From what I hear from people a lot smarter than me, the car industry is really having a tough time right now.” Don’t worry, Anthony, keep setting records in majors for birdies – 11 in the second round of this year’s Masters – and you’ll get the last laugh.


Dear Kenny G:

Thanks for hitting the right notes when you played the Honda Classic in March. We’re not talking about your work on the saxophone for children in the Nicklaus’ charity, though that was a terrific deal for the event. We’re talking about how you aptly summed up the game’s challenge by comparing it to music, or any other profession. “Here’s the thing about golf,” you told us. “You can practice and not get better. If you practice a musical instrument, you’re going to get better.”


Dear Michael J. Fox:

Though battling Parkinson’s disease, you saw the truths that make golf appealing to Kenny G and the rest of us. Asked about your affinity for the game at the Principal Charity Classic in West Des Moines, Iowa, you said: “Golf gives you a new opportunity to fail every couple minutes, but it gives you an opportunity to succeed every couple minutes, too.” You also joked about your reaction to teachers who stress the importance of staying still over the ball. If you can laugh, so can we. Thanks for permission to laugh at ourselves, even when it hurts.


Dear Gary Player:

Your tireless devotion to fitness and your competitive spirit continued to inspire us this year. At the Masters, your last year as a competitor there, you were asked if you would like to join Arnold Palmer as an honorary starter someday. “Would I?” you bellowed. “Of course, I would. I’ll even exercise harder to make sure I outdrive Arnold.” With Jack Nicklaus joining Palmer now, we’ll be eager to see if you’ll be getting your wish soon. Thanks for motivating us all with the idea that we’re never too old to take on a challenge.


Dear Charles Barkley:

Thanks for sharing your struggles and pain with us on The Haney Project. We don’t feel so bad about our games now. We admire how much you love the game, in spite of what it’s doing to you. “Little old ladies walking the street want to give me advice,” you said. “Everybody gives me advice. It’s hilarious.” The fact that you can laugh at your swing makes us feel a lot better about our swings.


Dear Padraig Harrington:

After missing five straight cuts, you channeled Charles Barkley for us. “My driver is an office club at the moment,” you said. “It works 9 to 5 and never on weekends.” We probably drive you batty analyzing your swing to death. But while we know how dedicated to improvement you are, we thank you for not taking the game or yourself too seriously.


Dear Phil Mickelson:

Following you on the back nine of the pro-am at the Deutsche Bank Championship, we got a first-hand glimpse why galleries so adore you. Sensing some fatigue, you turned to the gallery and declared that an energy boost was required. Like the Pied Piper, you waved for all of us to follow you to the concession stand, where you bought hot dogs and hamburgers for your pro-am partners and anyone in the gallery who wanted to eat. Thanks for making the Mickelson experience so satisfying.

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LPGA schedule features 34 events, record purse

By Randall MellDecember 13, 2017, 2:02 pm

The LPGA schedule will once again feature 34 events next year with a record $68.75 million in total purses, the tour announced on Wednesday.

While three events are gone from the 2018 schedule, three new events have been added, with two of those on the West Coast and one in mainland China.

The season will again start with the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic on Paradise Island (Jan. 25-28) and end with the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Fla., (Nov. 15-18).

The LPGA played for $65 million in total prize money in 2017.

An expanded West Coast swing in the front half of the schedule will now include the HUGEL-JTBC Championship in the Los Angeles area April 19-22. The site will be announced at a later date.

The tour will then make a return to San Francisco’s Lake Merced Golf Club the following week, in a new event sponsored by L&P Cosmetics, a Korean skincare company. Both new West Coast tournaments will be full-field events.

The tour’s third new event will be played in Shanghai Oct. 18-21 as part of the fall Asian swing. The title sponsor and golf course will be announced at a later date.

“Perhaps the most important aspect of our schedule is the consistency — continuing to deliver strong playing opportunities both in North America and around the world, while growing overall purse levels every year,” LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said in a statement. “There is simply no better [women’s] tour opportunity in the world, when it comes to purses, global TV coverage or strength of field. It’s an exciting time in women’s golf, with the best players from every corner of the globe competing against each other in virtually every event.”

While the Evian Championship will again be played in September next year, the tour confirmed its plans to move its fifth major to the summer in 2019, to be part of a European swing, with the Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open and the Ricoh Women’s British Open.

The Manulife LPGA Classic and the Lorena Ochoa Invitational are not returning to the schedule next year. Also, the McKayson New Zealand Women’s Open will not be played next year as it prepares to move to the front of the 2019 schedule, to be paired with the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.

The U.S. Women’s Open will make its new place earlier in the summer, a permanent move in the tour’s scheduling. It will be played May 31-June 3 at Shoal Creek Golf Club outside Birmingham, Ala. The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship (June 28-July 1) will be played at Kemper Lakes Golf Club on the north side of Chicago and the Ricoh Women’s British Open (Aug. 2-5) will be played at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in England.

For the first time since its inception in 2014, the UL International Crown team event is going overseas, with the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Incheon, South Korea, scheduled to host the event Oct. 4-7. The KEB Hana Bank Championship will be played in South Korean the following week.

Here is the LPGA's schedule for 2018:

Jan. 25-28: Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic; Paradise Island, Bahamas; Purse: $1.4 million

Feb. 15-18: ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open; Adelaide, Australia; Purse: $1.3 million

Feb. 21-24: Honda LPGA Thailand; Chonburi, Thailand; Purse: $1.6 million

March 1-4: HSBC Women's World Championship; Singapore; Purse: $1.5 million

March 15-18: Bank of Hope Founders Cup; Phoenix, Arizona; Purse: $1.5 million

March 22-25: Kia Classic; Carlsbad, California; Purse: $1.8 million

March 29 - April 1: ANA Inspiration; Rancho Mirage, California; Purse: $2.8 million

April 11-14: LOTTE Championship; Kapolei, Oahu, Hawaii; Purse: $2 million

April 19-22: HUGEL-JTBC Championship; Greater Los Angeles, California; Purse: $1.5 million

April 26-29: Name to be Announced; San Francisco, California; Purse: $1.5 million

May 3-6: Volunteers of America LPGA Texas Classic; The Colony, Texas; Purse: $1.3 million

May 17-20: Kingsmill Championship; Williamsburg, Virginia; Purse: $1.3 million

May 24-27: LPGA Volvik Championship; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Purse: $1.3 million

May 31 - June 3: U.S. Women's Open Championship; Shoal Creek, Alabama; Purse: $5 million

June 8-10: ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer; Galloway, New Jersey; Purse: $1.75 million

June 14-17: Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Purse: $2 million

June 22-24: Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G; Rogers, Arkansas; Purse: $2 million

June 28 - July 1: KPMG Women's PGA Championship; Kildeer, Illinois; Purse: $3.65 million

July 5-8: Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic; Oneida, Wisconsin; Purse: $2 million

July 12-15: Marathon Classic presented by Owens-Corning and O-I; Sylvania, Ohio; Purse: $1.6 million

July 26-29: Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open; East Lothian, Scotland; Purse: $1.5 million

Aug. 2-5: Ricoh Women's British Open; Lancashire, England; Purse: $3.25 million

Aug. 16-19: Indy Women in Tech Championship presented by Guggenheim; Indianapolis, Indiana; Purse: $2 million

Aug. 23-26: CP Women's Open; Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada; Purse: $2.25 million

Aug. 30 - Sept. 2: Cambia Portland Classic; Portland, Oregon; Purse: $1.3 million

Sept. 13-16: The Evian Championship; Evian-les-Bains, France; Purse: $3.85 million

Sept. 27-30: Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Purse: $1.8 million

Oct. 4-7: UL International Crown; Incheon, Korea; Purse: $1.6 million

Oct. 11-14: LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship; Incheon, Korea; Purse: $2 million

Oct. 18-21: Name to be Announced; Shanghai, China; Purse: $2.1 million

Oct. 25-28: Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship; New Taipei City, Chinese Taipei; Purse: $2.2 million

Nov. 2-4: TOTO Japan Classic; Shiga, Japan; Purse: $1.5 million

Nov. 7-10: Blue Bay LPGA; Hainan Island, China; Purse: $2.1 million

Nov. 15-18: CME Group Tour Championship; Naples, Florida; Purse: $2.5 million

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 4, Jordan Spieth

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 13, 2017, 1:00 pm

Dismissed because he’s supposedly too short off the tee, or not accurate enough with his irons, or just a streaky putter, Jordan Spieth is almost never the answer to the question of which top player, when he’s at his best, would win in a head-to-head match.

And yet here he is, at the age of 24, with 11 career wins and three majors, on a pace that compares favorably with the giants of the game. He might not possess the firepower of Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, but since he burst onto the PGA Tour in 2013 he has all that matters – a better résumé.

Spieth took the next step in his development this year by becoming the Tour’s best iron player – and its most mentally tough.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

Just a great putter? Oh, puhleeze: He won three times despite putting statistics (42nd) that were his worst since his rookie year. Instead, he led the Tour in strokes gained-approach the green and this summer showed the discipline, golf IQ and bounce-back ability that makes him such a unique talent. 

Even with his putter misbehaving, Spieth closed out the Travelers Championship by holing a bunker shot in the playoff, then, in perhaps an even bigger surprise, perfectly executed the player-caddie celebration, chest-bumping caddie Michael Greller. A few weeks later, sublime iron play carried him into the lead at Royal Birkdale, his first in a major since his epic collapse at the 2016 Masters.

Once again his trusty putter betrayed him, and by the time he arrived on the 13th tee, he was tied with Matt Kuchar. What happened next was the stuff of legend – a lengthy ruling, gutsy up-and-down, stuffed tee shot and go-get-that putt – that lifted Spieth to his third major title.

Though he couldn’t complete the career Grand Slam at the PGA, he’ll likely have, oh, another two decades to join golf’s most exclusive club.

In the barroom debate of best vs. best, you can take the guys with the flair, with the booming tee shots and the sky-high irons. Spieth will just take the trophies.


Masters Tournament: Return to the 12th; faltering on Sunday (T-11)

Spieth pars 12, but makes quad on 15

Spieth takes another gut punch, but still standing

Article: Spieth splashes to worst Masters finish


U.S. Open: 1 over usually good ... not at Erin Hills (T-35)


The Open: Unforgettable finish leads to major win No. 3 (1st)

Spieth survives confusing ordeal on 13

Photos: Spieth's incredible journey on 13

Take it, it's yours: Spieth gets claret jug

Chamblee: Spieth doesn't have 'it' - 'he has it all'

Article: Spieth silences his doubters - even himself


PGA Championship: Career Grand Slam bid comes up well short (T-28)

Article: Spieth accepts that Grand Slam is off the table


AT&T Pebble Beach

Article: Spieth rising from 'valley' after Pebble Beach win

Travelers Championship

Spieith wins dramatic Travelers in playoff

Watch: Spieth holes bunker shot, goes nuts



Photos: Jordan Spieth and Annie Verret


Photos: Jordan Spieth through the years

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 13, 2017, 12:30 pm
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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."