Foreigners still dominating Match Play

By Rex HoggardFebruary 25, 2012, 1:14 am

MARANA, Ariz. – Welcome to blowout Friday where every pin offered a birdie opportunity, nearly every match failed to go the distance and almost every American seemed like an endangered species.

But then that’s nothing new, not here at the Accenture Match Play Championship, the event that put the “W” (world) in WGC and where the home team is a weak-hitting 1-for-6 since 2006.

Tiger Woods was the last American flag to hoist a Match Play trophy in 2008, which was also the last time there was an American in the championship match.

By comparison to that harsh history Friday’s performance by the red, white and blue was nothing short of progress. Of the seven Americans who advanced to the Sweet 16 three will be around for Saturday’s action.

Matt Kuchar rolled over last year’s runner-up Martin Kaymer, 4 and 3; while Hunter Mahan bounced Steve Stricker and Mark Wilson clipped Dustin Johnson with the same score.

Bracketology guarantees there will be at least one American in the semifinal round for the first time since 2009 thanks to Saturday’s Kuchar vs. Mahan match, but that’s not exactly a resounding improvement in the USA’s fortunes at the Match Play.

Armchair analysts likely attribute America’s pedestrian pedigree at the event to the match-play format, as foreign to most U.S. players as many of the names that have dotted the WGC leaderboard in recent years, but that ignores the United States’ record in the Presidents Cup (7-1-1) not to mention the U.S. side’s six victories in the first seven Match Plays.

“I enjoy it,” Kuchar said. “I find it a lot more intense. With so much on the line at every hole it brings out the best in you.”

More than likely America’s Match Play swoon has more to do with the growth of golf globally than the alien format.

“International golf has gotten a lot better,” said Mahan, who has beaten Zach Johnson, Y.E. Yang and Stricker to advance to the Elite Eight. “I mean, we’re outnumbered. We’re not the majority here. I don’t think the odds are in our favor for us to win. It’s 23 out of 64 this year.”

Actually, 22 Americans began the week at Dove Mountain, and that’s not even a Match Play record. In 2009 just 17 players from the U.S. were in the field and in ’08 and ’10 there were 20 members from the home team at pro golf’s version of March Madness, but Mahan’s point is valid.

The World Golf Ranking more resembles a United Nations directory than a game once dominated by American players. Just four of the top 10 players in the ranking are from the United States.

It’s a point made mathematically clear given this week’s ranking scenarios. Both Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood can unseat Luke Donald atop the World Ranking with victories this week. It was a similar scenario last year between Donald and Kaymer.

America’s troubles have less to do with match play than it is simply a reality of the modern game. Tour officials are regularly asked about the possibility of a world tour, but in form if not function a worldwide circuit already exists.

“I don’t think of it as golfers with their flags next to their head,” Wilson said. “I think of it as all golfers. We’re just golfers around the world. That’s what’s great in these World Golf Championships. I don’t really think of it as USA, way to go. It’s more like they happen to be the golfers that won.”

For players, such high-minded, inclusive attitudes are refreshing. But as Westwood approached the over-served crowd ringing Dove Mountain’s 13th green on Saturday whether America’s struggles in this event was a question of format or rapidly changing fortunes didn’t seem to register.

“USA, USA,” they chanted moments before the Englishman rolled in an 11-footer for birdie. Three holes later the match, and Watney, was finished.

At least the rowdies at the 13th had an American to cheer. Given the United States’ recent history at the Match Play that might not be the case by the time Sunday’s championship match arrives.

Watch live coverage of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship on Golf Channel, Saturday noon-2PM ET; Sunday 8AM-1PM ET. NBC coverage can be seen live Saturday/Sunday, 2-6PM ET.

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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
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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.