A Captains Dilemma

By Rex HoggardAugust 8, 2010, 3:12 am

PGA of AmericaAKRON, Ohio – There are three basic tenets to a successful Ryder Cup captaincy – avoid really bad pairings (Hal Sutton in 2004), really bad shirts (Ben Crenshaw in 1999) and really bad circumstances (Tom Lehman in 2006).

That is, of course, unless you’re Corey Pavin and you find yourself being backed into a really bad corner.

If Freddie Couples’ 2009 Presidents Cup stint was characterized by a “captain cool” atmosphere, Pavin’s early calling card may be something along the lines of “captain come on.”

No? Consider Pavin’s options as the matches close in on the scrappy captain with an American star in Tiger Woods who appears either unable or unwilling to make this year’s squad.

Forget Saturday’s 75 from Woods at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, his worst round ever at Firestone. It is, by and large, the status quo for a season that has many more valleys than peaks.

Captain Corey plans to huddle with Woods next week at Whistling Straits for a meeting that promises to be largely one-sided. At ninth on the U.S. points list, the best player of his generation, perhaps of all time, certainly has the resume to justify a captain’s pick.

That is, of course, if he even needs a freebie. His record at the PGA Championship (four victories and eight top 10s) is impossible to ignore and we’ve watched him do more with less before (see Open, 2008 U.S.). Woods and Pavin also have time on their side. The captain’s picks are not made until Sept. 7 and a lot can change in four weeks.

Whether the world No. 1 has any interest in making the hop to Wales for a week full of pomp and team play is the more important question.

On Wednesday Woods was asked whether he would want to be a captain’s pick if it came to that: “I'm planning on playing my way into the team,” Woods said sternly.

Asked a second time and the response was even more chilly, “I'm planning on playing my way into the team.”

Tough to read between so few lines, but as early as June’s Memorial tournament, Woods and Steve Stricker, who paired together so successfully last year at Harding Park, talked about this year’s matches.

“For sure he can help the team and I hope I’m his partner again,” Stricker said. “He’s as tough a competitor as anyone and I can’t imagine him sitting at home.”

Stricker would know, he teamed with Woods last year to secure four points for the American side and was paired with him more in 2009 than any other player. But that was a different time, a different Tiger.

The man who is currently placed third from last among a field of 80 players in Ohio seems to be missing some of the cache or confidence that lifted him to 14 Grand Slam tilts.

For Pavin, however, his hands are tied. To not make Woods a captain’s pick, even a Woods who is firing on six of eight cylinders, would ignite immediate second guessing from the media. Woods, a true competitor despite his current form, could provide Pavin with political cover by publically declining a spot, although Stricker can’t imagine that scenario.

“If he’s outside the top 8 (automatic qualifying) and (Pavin) asked him to be a pick I imagine he would do it,” Stricker said. “He’s trying to rebuild an image and I don’t think that would be a good way to start.”

Besides, among the players currently on the outside looking to be one of four picks (Nos. 10 Hunter Mahan, 11 Ricky Barnes and 12 Ben Crane) it’s hard to make an argument that Woods is not deserving.

So it is with both player and captain backed into a corner the odds of Woods not being on the Air American charter bound for Wales later this year seems about as slim as his title chances at Firestone.

Still, that does little to help Pavin.

Given Woods’ current status on the FedEx Cup points list, 111th and fading, it is not a stretch to imagine a first-round Playoff exit, which would create a three-week competitive void before the matches and likely only exacerbate his playing problems.

And deepen the corner Pavin now finds his back against.

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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