Cut Line An Eventful Offseason

By Rex HoggardNovember 20, 2009, 9:29 pm

No PGA Tour event this week, no 36-hole cut, no worries. From Doug Barron to Michelle Wie’s breakthrough, the “off-season” has never been so eventful.

Made Cut

The Tom Watson accord. Say what you will about the hard-line elders at the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, but they know a good show when they see one and aren’t afraid to tinker with the rules to make magic happen.

Watson’s historic run at Turnberry last July created an interesting dilemma since the would-be champion was 59 years old and would have just a single year of eligibility left to play the Open Championship had he survived the 72nd hole and ensuing playoff. As a result, the R&A added a clause that would make aging champions eligible for five additional years after they turn 60 if they finish in the top 10.

Good stuff, but we challenge the R&A to go one better. Imagine the possibilities if officials could woo Jack Nicklaus out of retirement and back to St. Andrews in 2010?

Wie win. The LPGA Tour and its new commish needed a “W” from the Big “W” like Bill Belichick needed a Sunday mulligan.

No one, however, needed the breakthrough more than the 20-year-old Stanford student. Earning her tour card last winter was a good start and her Solheim Cup heroics gave her reason to be optimistic, but getting off the victory schnied to finish her rookie year is like Christmas in November.

Even on a bum wheel, Wie put a decade’s worth of bad decisions and bad breaks behind her.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

New grooves, schmooves. After Doug Barron’s legal bout with the Tour, the buzz on the Disney practice range last week was all about the new rules governing grooves on Tour next year.

“Some guys are in for a rude awakening,” said one Tour player.

Sunday’s scoreboard, however, suggests the hype over the rollback is much ado about nothing, or, at least, much ado about nothing much.

Among Sunday’s winners and almost winners were Stephen Ames, Justin Leonard (Children’s Miracle Network Classic) and Tiger Woods (Australian Masters), who were all playing conforming Nike irons and wedges.

LPGA 2010 schedule. In an ultimate good news/bad news deal, the circuit released its 2010 lineup to mixed reviews, although given the general state of the economy and the circuit’s perception issues with former commissioner Carolyn Bivens, most consider the 24-event docket a victory of form, if not function.

But there is still work to do. The ’10 schedule is the lightest since 1971 and features just two tournaments during a nine-week run starting in April.

The schedule also is heavy with international stops. The first event in the United States will be the LPGA Classic at La Costa Resort in California in late March and there are 17 “off” weeks after things get going.


Missed Cut

Doug Barron v. PGA Tour Inc. Make your own judgment on the merits of the case and, in a macro way, it really doesn’t matter who is right or wrong. From a perception point of view all that matters is that golf has been dragged into the doping era.

Whether the Tour started down the anti-doping path as a result of its Olympic aspirations or simply as a byproduct of the world we live in, golf – perhaps the only sport that could have avoided doping scrutiny – is now part of the conversation, and for what?

A 40-year-old journeyman whose only crime may be his unshakable belief in his own innocence and a naïve approach to the anti-doping process? Golf in the Olympics may end up being a boon for the game, but at what cost?

PGATour.com. No word of the Barron law suit, or his request to play the second stage of Q-School, but the Tour-driven Web site was quick to post the story when a U.S. magistrate denied Barron’s request for an injunction.

The Tour is a business that is keen to protect its own interest, but hand-picking news that’s convenient is dangerous and transparent. The Tour should take a page from Major League Baseball’s Web site, which may spin the news but it does not censor it.

Associated Press golf writer Doug Ferguson tweeted it best, “(PGATour.com) should change name to TASS.com.”

Getty Images

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."

Getty Images

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

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

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