Will stars finally align for Sergio in a major?

By Randall MellApril 9, 2017, 1:22 am

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Maybe Sisyphus gets a reprieve in golf’s retelling of the story.

Maybe this Sunday is that epic for Sergio Garcia, who must know the frustration of the mythic king the Greek gods compelled to roll a boulder up a hill, a damned task in that the king spends eternity trying over and over to roll the boulder to the top, only to see it roll back down without ever reaching the peak.

That’s how major championships have gone for Garcia, and yet here he is going to Sunday at Augusta National with his game and maybe even something cosmic working for him in the final round of the Masters.

Sunday, after all, will be a special day for Spaniards in golf.

It would have been Seve Ballesteros’ 60th birthday.

There are so many terrific stories lining up to be Sunday’s defining tale, but would any be more stunning than the 37-year-old Garcia slipping into a green jacket?

Garcia is 0 for 73 in majors.

Masters Tournament: Scores | Live blog: Day 3 | Full coverage

With a 2-under-par 70, Garcia seemed to finally break the Saturday curse plaguing him at Augusta National. He moved into a share of the 54-hole lead with Justin Rose and will go off with him in Sunday’s final pairing.

“At the end of the day, it comes down to me making sure that I keep doing the things that I've been doing all week and just believe that I can do it,” Garcia said.

Once the can’t-miss kid, the gifted prodigy who seemed destined to win multiple majors, even Garcia seemed to give up on himself and any chance he would finally break through.

Wasn’t it here that we all gave up on him winning one?

This is where Garcia practically shook his fist at the heavens and cursed the golf gods.

It’s where he declared he wasn’t good enough to win a major.

“I don’t have the thing I need to have,” he said here five years ago. “The conclusion is I need to play for second or third place.”

Maybe this is where he finally makes his peace with the golf gods. Or maybe where they break his heart again. They certainly smiled on him Saturday with the gift they gave him down at Amen Corner.

That’s where Garcia rocketed a 4-iron that slammed into the grassy bank in front of the 13th green. That ball looked doomed to roll back down into the tributary of Rae’s Creek there, but it seemed to defy gravity, much like Fred Couples’ ball did when it stayed up on the bank above Rae’s Creek at the 12th when Couples won in 1992.

“I've definitely had some good breaks throughout all three rounds,” Garcia said. “The 13th was obviously was one of them.  ”

Instead of bogey or maybe worse there, Garcia took advantage. He chipped up to a few inches and made birdie.

Garcia finished strong, holing a pivotal 6-foot putt for par at the last to secure his share of the lead.

Garcia looks like a different man than he was five years ago, when he ranted at the Masters over another lost opportunity in a major. He’s engaged to be married to Angela Akins in July. He says there’s more balance and perspective in his life and game now.

“My mentality has kind of changed a little bit, the way I’m thinking things, particularly this week at Augusta,” Garcia said.

Garcia says his once rocky relationship with the Masters is different, too.

“It’s definitely improved,” Garcia said. “There's no doubt about that. Nothing wrong with Augusta. It's the kind of place that if you are trying to fight against it, it's going to beat you down. So you've just got to roll with it and realize that sometimes you're going to get good breaks, like has happened to me a few times this week, and sometimes you're going to get not‑so‑good breaks.  But at the end of the day, that's part of the game.”

Garcia came into Saturday with the worst third-round scoring average of any player over the last 30 Masters. He was cumulatively 38 over par for his career in the third round of this event.

“I’m glad I took the scoring average down a little bit,” Garcia cracked.

Garcia idolized Ballesteros, and he will draw inspiration trying to win the Masters on what would have been his idol’s birthday.

Amen Corner looked like it was jumping with spiritual activity Saturday.

That’s where Jordan Spieth invoked the name of Arnold Palmer after he drove into the trees and pine straw at the 13th. It’s where Spieth shrugged off his caddie’s advice.

“What would Arnold do?” Spieth told caddie Michael Greller before lasering a shot into 30 feet that would set up a two-putt birdie.

Garcia could ask a similarly inspiring question throughout Sunday. He could ask “What would Seve do?” Ballesteros won the Masters in 1980 and ’83. Garcia’s other idol, Jose Maria Olazabal, also won the Masters twice (1994 and ’99).

“I don't want to get ahead of myself,” Garcia said. “I don't even know how much it would mean to be able to join both of my idols as a Masters winner.”

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

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm
Getty Images

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.

PGA Tour suspends Hensby for anti-doping violation

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 8:02 pm

Mark Hensby has been suspended for one year by the PGA Tour for violating the Tour’s anti-doping policy by failing to provide a sample after notification.

The Tour made the announcement Monday, reporting that Hensby will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

The statement reads:

The PGA Tour announced today that Mark Hensby has violated the Tour Anti-Doping Policy for failing to provide a drug testing sample after notification and has been suspended for a period of one year. He will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

Hensby, 46, won the John Deere Classic in 2004. He played the Web.com Tour this past year, playing just 14 events. He finished 142nd on the money list. He once ranked among the top 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking but ranks No. 1,623 today.

The Sunshine Tour recently suspended player Etienne Bond for one year for failing a drug test. Players previously suspended by the PGA Tour for violating the anti-doping policy include Scott Stallings and Doug Barron.

The PGA Tour implemented revisions to its anti-doping program with the start of the 2017-18 season. The revisions include blood testing and the supplementation of the Tour’s prohibited list to include all of the substances and methods on the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited list. As part of this season’s revisions, the Tour announced it would also begin reporting suspensions due to recreational drug use.

The Tour said it would not issue further comment on Hensby's suspension.