Who can topple Tseng at Kraft Nabisco?

By Randall MellMarch 29, 2012, 12:50 am

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Na Yeon Choi didn’t mince words.

After finishing second to Yani Tseng at the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup two weeks ago, Choi bluntly summarized the challenge facing the women’s game today.

“I don’t know who’s going to stop her,” Choi said.

If not Choi, the Rolex World No. 2, who is going to stop the surging No. 1 at this week’s Kraft Nabisco Championship at Mission Hills Country Club?

Maybe the LPGA needs a black magic woman.

With Tseng innocently stumbling into another question of superstition misstep this week, we meander amusingly into supernatural possibilities.

Last year, Tseng alerted the superstitious among us when she stepped to the first tee on Sunday morning of the Kraft Nabisco Championship and hoisted the Dinah Shore Trophy. Folks who pay attention to these things knew the possibility of a jinx was in play the moment Tseng embraced the silver prize. A premature hoist didn’t bode well.

As it turns out, Tseng couldn’t close the deal, losing her two-shot lead over a final-round duel with Stacy Lewis.

Tseng said she used to see Lorena Ochoa touch the trophy in that way and thought it brought her good luck.

“Never again,” Tseng said.

Now, this week, Tseng fueled her fellow pros with some supernatural hope once more. Asked if she was satisfied with her celebratory leap into Poppie’s Pond when she won two years ago, Tseng said friends made fun her of her form and so she was practicing possible Poppie’s Pond leaps into her Orlando pool. She said it innocently, in good-natured fun governed by the spirit of the question, but you can imagine how the revelation went over in the locker room.

Yani is practicing what?

“I think that’s kind of . . . I just wouldn’t do that,” said Lewis, the defending champ.

A superstitious player wouldn't want to conjur a jinx.

At 23, Tseng isn’t unbeatable, not yet, but she’s becoming awfully tough to beat. Tseng tees it up Thursday looking to win for the fourth time in six starts this year, for the 10th time in her last 20 overall LPGA starts. She begins her quest to win her sixth overall major, her third in the last five tries, her fifth in the last nine.

“I still think it’s possible to play better than her,” said Suzann Pettersen, the Rolex World No. 3.

Lewis did so with a strong Sunday performance a year ago to make her first LPGA title a major. With the rough down this year, the course suits Tseng even more now. A power player, Tseng can bomb it around the Dinah Shore Course with even more impunity.

“Every player comes here to win,” Tseng said. “We don’t come here to finish second.”

Tseng comes with the motivation of remembering her final-round stumble last year. She also comes knowing the LPGA major championship schedule extends to five majors next year, with the Evian Masters becoming a major. That means Tseng’s last best chance at becoming the first woman to win the Grand Slam is this year.

“I did think about that, because I am playing great this year,” Tseng said. “I think I have a chance to do it. I’ve won this tournament before, so it gives me a lot of confidence that I can do it again. I like the Women’s British Open and Wegmans, majors I won before, so I feel better. But the U.S. Open, I think that’s the toughest for me because every time I get there I just feel different.”

If nobody lets loose a herd of black cats at Blackwolf Run for this year’s U.S. Women’s Open, maybe this is her year there, too.

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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