Bishop's tenure will be remembered for going rogue

By Rex HoggardOctober 28, 2014, 4:43 pm

Going rogue was the central theme of Ted Bishop’s tenure at the PGA of America. From his principled stand against the anchored-putting debate to his fateful tweet last Thursday, the ousted president lived his term off-script.

“I lived on the edge for two years,” Bishop conceded on Tuesday’s “Morning Drive.”

In the end, it was that body of work that drove the PGA’s board of directors to remove Bishop from office less than a month before he was scheduled to step down. His insensitive tweet in response to Ian Poulter’s criticism of Nick Faldo will be remembered as the proverbial nail in the coffin, but Bishop knows he’d been undermining himself 140 characters at a time.

On Sept. 28, for example, he sent a tweet following the U.S. Ryder Cup team’s five-point loss, “Victory has a thousand fathers and defeat is an orphan.” A day earlier he’d taken to Twitter to announce, “Clubhouse at Gleneagles being evacuated. Real fire. Can this day get worse?”

Things got worse.

Much worse, and the building fallout from the American rout had reached a tipping point when Bishop arrived in West Virginia to spend a few days with Faldo last week at The Greenbrier.

As he waited for his ride to Faldo’s house for dinner on Thursday, Bishop thumbed out his response to Poulter’s criticism, “Faldo’s record stands by itself. Six majors and all-time (Ryder Cup) points. Yours vs. His? Lil Girl.”

He was angry at Poulter for his lack of reverence when it came to Faldo’s legacy, but the underpinnings of that anger reached back to Gleneagles and how quickly public and private opinion turned on Watson following the U.S. loss.

“It was the straw that broke the camel’s back, these were two icons of the game,” he said.

On Tuesday morning Bishop recounted a conversation he had with PGA CEO Pete Bevacqua before play began in Scotland. “If we win why wouldn’t we consider bringing Tom back (to captain)?” Bevacqua asked.

Less than a week later, however, “PGA people started jumping off the ship,” Bishop recalled.

“There were clearly lines drawn in the sand and people were trying distance themselves from me,” he said. “I told Tom, ‘The PGA owes you an apology.’ I felt the PGA could have made a far stronger statement of support for him.”

From those frayed friendships grew Bishop’s discontent and led him to a tweet that will haunt him forever.

Perhaps things could have been handled better. Perhaps Bishop, and the PGA’s senior director of communications Julius Mason, could have been more proactive in assessing the seriousness of the situation and would have issued a stronger apology.

But none of that happened and by 9 a.m. on Friday Bishop could sense the tide turning against him. After two years of “living on the edge,” the maverick was what his record said he was, outspoken and unedited.

In a five-minute conference call with the entire PGA board on Friday, Bishop apologized and explained how things transpired. He even offered to stay off social media and out of the mainstream press until he stepped down on Nov. 21, but the die had been cast.

“I’m off. I’m off. I’m done,” Bishop said of his self-imposed exile from social media on Tuesday.

It was five days too late.

In an emotional interview on Tuesday, Bishop conceded the point and acknowledged that his presidency would now be defined by those 118 characters, not his fight against the USGA’s ban on anchoring, not the inroads he made to strengthen ties between the PGA Tour and the PGA of America. Not even his outspoken support for the inclusion of women in the R&A.

“Great announcement by R&A today allowing women members. 21st century officially arrives in golf,” he tweeted following last month’s historic vote in Scotland.

“It’s painful because it takes a lot of the things we’ve done and puts them down the drain,” said Bishop, who was stripped of his status as an honorary president but not his PGA membership.

As he headed for the airport Tuesday, back to his day job running his club in Indiana, Bishop was asked if he ever planned to attend another PGA Championship or Ryder Cup.

“I doubt it,” he allowed. “I’ve had a great experience the last six years. My fate is sealed with the PGA of America. That’s no bitterness, it’s just not a priority right now.”

It is ironic that Bishop chose last Thursday to stay on script when the PGA issued what has largely been called a non-apology. The apology, he said, “were not my words.”

After living rogue for two years, it may have been his decision to stay on script that ultimately cost him.

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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