Fellow pros feel sympathy, empathy for Spieth

By Rex HoggardApril 12, 2016, 6:02 pm

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. – All of the elements were there, the competitive version of Kübler-Ross’ five stages of death and dying unfolding like clockwork in the days and hours since Sunday’s shocking finish at the Masters.

No one died but the mood at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of this week’s RBC Heritage, matched the gloom that hung low over the course.

As players made their way out for drizzly practice rounds, the same elements Elisabeth Kübler-Ross outlined in her landmark book “On Death and Dying” surfaced.

In 1969, Kübler-Ross created the acronym DABDA to help map the grieving process – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and, finally, acceptance.

And they were all there on Tuesday as players continued to process what happened to Jordan Spieth on Sunday at the Masters when he blew a five-stroke lead with nine holes to play to lose the Masters.

Denial

“He was in such control with nine holes to play, we all thought it was over,” said Colt Knost. “Pressure does crazy things to you ...”

For Knost, Spieth’s implosion – which included a wrenching stretch through Nos. 10-12 that he played in 6 over par – was personal.

Both are Dallas residents and play plenty of practice rounds together. Knost has seen, more times than he can count, Spieth’s short-game brilliance and mental toughness, all of which made his Masters meltdown so stunning.


RBC Heritage: Articles, photos and videos


Late Sunday night, Knost sent Spieth a text message but he really didn’t know what to say.

“Proud of you, handled yourself awesome. Keep your head up,” Knost finally thumbed into his phone.

Anger

“S*** happens,” shrugged Jason Gore. “It’s not like the guy has an issue with chunking wedges. It’s not like he has the driver yips or the wedge yips. The guy’s the best putter in the world and he screwed up. It won’t be the last wedge he ever chunks, it was just bad timing.”

Gore’s frustration was grounded in Spieth’s history at Augusta National. In his first 10 Masters rounds Spieth had posted a score worse than bogey just once – on Saturday last year at No. 17 – and his quadruple bogey-7 at the 12th on Sunday was one of just five “others” on that hole all week.

Bargaining

 “On that golf course there’s something like that waiting to happen, especially with all that water in play,” Lucas Glover said. “If you’re playing well at a U.S. Open, you just chip back to the fairway and limit the damage. If you hit a bad shot there [Augusta National] you’ve got a bad angle and a touchy shot. It’s hard to limit damage there.”

Those who have watched Spieth emerge as one of the game’s genuine superstars understandably saw Sunday’s collapse as an outlier, an anomaly unique to the exacting test that is Augusta National more so than a sign of what we can expect from the uniquely dubbed Golden Child.

The alternative would be to think there was a crack in an otherwise flawless armor, and given Spieth’s record last year in the majors – two victories, a runner-up showing and a tie for fourth place – that just doesn’t seem likely.

Depression

“Oh, man, you’re heart hurts,” Glover said. “Anyone who’s played this game for a length of time has done something similar. Anytime you see a guy struggling it’s painful.”

They say NASCAR drivers avoid funerals as a defense mechanism for a job filled with occupational hazards. Similarly, Tour types normally don’t spend much time watching meltdowns like Spieth’s, but much like a NASCAR pile up they just couldn’t look away.

“It happened so fast you try to get a handle on it. Even the best players try to bounce back and there’s not a whole lot you can do about it,” David Toms said. “Any momentum in any sport, once it gets on the bad side especially in golf it seems like it’s hard to get it back.

“In other sports, you try harder, you play defense, you do other things. In golf there’s no such thing.”

Acceptance

“There’s always situations where you have a chance to do well and it went bad,” Toms said. “It happens to everyone, but it shocks people when it happens to the best player in the world at a tournament he’s dominated and made it look easy.”

This is where most players ended up less than 48 hours after Spieth’s collapse. On any given week there is any number of similarly sensational meltdowns and everyone knows that once the unraveling begins it’s hard to stop.

“Before you blink, your mind is racing and before you know it, it all happens,” Ricky Barnes said.

As players continued to process what happened there was also a healthy amount of sympathy for Spieth, who is one of the most popular Tour members.

It was particularly tough to watch the awards ceremony, which under normal circumstances is an endearing tradition. But given Sunday’s happenings it seemed to only add to the surreal moment.

“I was watching with Tim Clark when he put the green jacket on Danny [Willett] and we both said, ‘This is going to be brutal,’” Knost said.

The adjectives, from brutal to cruel, varied, but the theme remained the same for Spieth’s frat brothers – the Masters runner-up didn’t meet his ultimate demise but it sure did feel like a funeral on Tuesday at Harbour Town.

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
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.