Tiger-esque: Day adds Players title to dominant run

By Randall MellMay 16, 2016, 1:26 am

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – There was a time players trying to close out a victory didn’t want Tiger Woods in their heads.

They didn’t want him trashing things in there, rattling focus, smashing confidence and busting up their plans to win a trophy.

Tiger is in Jason Day’s head now, but this Tiger, the circa-2016 Tiger, is a welcome guest.

For Day, having his idol as a mentor is a good thing, but not so much for all those players Day is learning to beat with regularity.

With his four-shot victory Sunday at The Players Championship, Day has now won seven of his last 17 PGA Tour starts. Three of those were wire to wire, including this week’s virtuoso performance at the TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course. Day showed the growing versatility of his game this past week, navigating through changing conditions so extreme it seemed as if he won on two entirely different golf courses.

Day, 28, won pounding driver and attacking flagsticks in a record assault on a soft course over the first two days. He won tying the course record with a 63 on his way to setting the 36-hole scoring record of 14 under. And he won scrambling on the weekend, holing one clutch putt after another to save important pars as the course grew firmer, faster and more severe.

In the end, Day led the field in both driving distance (311.6 yards per drive) and scrambling.

That’s seven titles over the last nine months for Day, five more victories than Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott, the only other players to win more than one PGA Tour start over that span.

“Well, that's Tiger-esque, that kind of a run,” said Scott, a fellow Aussie. “I try to imagine how good Tiger felt playing five years into his pro career and having won 50 events. Imagine how you'd feel confidence-wise?

“Jason must be feeling something like that at the moment. That’s an incredibly nice way to walk out on the golf course, and you can see it with Jason.”

The Players Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Scott played a practice round with Day this week.

“You can see there's that calmness inside him, calm confidence,” Scott said. “The way he's walking around, he's got that kind of unbeatable look about him.”

Colin Swatton, Day’s caddie and swing coach, said he isn’t privy to what insights Woods may be passing along to Day, but he sees real benefits showing up in Day’s game. He says the benefits are intangible, things you can’t necessarily define.

“I’ve definitely seen a change, not necessarily in how Jason plays, or how he goes about his business, but I definitely see a little bit more trust and belief in himself,” Swatton said. “I can see a lot more confidence, and that’s a very, very hard thing to get, especially if winning would make you confident, but it doesn’t always do that. I guess Tiger’s a very, very good person to go to. He’s arguably the best player in the world, and that has been my advice to Jason in the past, to lean on people who can make you better. I definitely think Tiger can do that.”

Day didn’t look so confident on the front nine Sunday, where his ball striking wasn’t crisp. He hit just three fairways on the front nine and just three greens in regulation and didn’t make a single birdie.

At the ninth, Day looked like he might be channeling the wrong Tiger Woods, when he chunked and fluffed three consecutive chips from the greenside rough. Day took three swipes to advance his ball 25 feet to the green.

“Felt like an amateur chopping my way to the pin,” Day said.

Day holed a 6-foot putt for bogey there. He called that putt the most important shot of his round because a miss would have shrunk his lead to a single shot.

“If I walk away with double bogey, I let in everyone in the field,” Day said. “That gives them a boost of energy.”

Day said the putt settled him down and helped him close hard on the back nine. He made his first birdie of the day at the 10th and didn’t give the field another opening. He refused to beat himself, closing with a bogey-free 33 on the back side.

That finishing flourish, it was as if Day wanted to impress Tiger.

“I don't know Tiger’s record for closing 54-hole leads out, but I think it's very high,” Day said. “I think he's only lost maybe one or so.”

Actually, Woods has held the 54-hole lead in 45 PGA Tour events and closed 43 of them.

Day said Woods offers him more than generous advice in their texts and phone calls. Woods motivates him to keep strengthening his hold on the world No. 1 ranking. Day widened his gap over No. 2 Jordan Spieth while extending his run atop the rankings to eight consecutive weeks.

“Tiger says he's going to kick my butt when he comes back, so I'm going to try and extend that gap, so if he does come back and he has turned into Tiger Woods again ... I've got to kind of watch my behind,” Day said. “Yeah, that's the main goal and main reason why I'm trying to extend that lead, so that I stay on top.”

Day isn’t the first player of this generation to connect with Woods, but he’s the first to parlay Woods’ reservoir of knowledge into something Tiger-esque.

Woods’ influence on Day can be overstated. Day is his own man. He plays his own game. He carries the No. 1 ranking his own way, with refreshing candor and openness. He’s different in Tiger in so many ways, and yet Tiger is the model of excellence that continues to shape Day’s dreams.

Day’s thinking big now. He said this victory was important to him because of its Hall of Fame ramifications. He says he’s burning with ambition.

“I look at that 10 PGA Tour wins, and I say to myself, `That’s not enough,’ and it isn't enough for me,” Day said. “It's just 10. I want more than 10.

“I look at Tiger, and he's got 79, or whatever it is, and Phil [Mickelson] is up there. I'm like, `OK, I want to be looked back on as one of the greats in the game.’ I'm going to try my best. I have the opportunity to do that right now, to try and work as hard as I can to really leave my footprint in this game, that has given me so much.”

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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.