Holmes keeps comfy lead thanks to ace, birdie run

By Rex HoggardMarch 8, 2015, 12:13 am

DORAL, Fla. – Public service reminder: daylight saving time begins on Sunday. You know the drill – spring forward, fall back.

We offer this unsolicited advice only for the sake of J.B. Holmes, because at the rate the bomber is going at the WGC-Cadillac Championship it may be the only thing that could keep him from his first WGC win.

For three days Holmes has dismantled the Blue Monster like a lumberjack not a surgeon. At the new and, arguably, improved Doral his unique skill set is unrivaled.

Check the record, he’s first in driving distance (321-yard average), first in approach shot distance from the pin, first in strokes gained-tee to green and first in putts made distance.

At a golf course that rewards the bash mentality, Holmes is a free-swinging, right-handed slugger who has pounded his way to a five-stroke advantage.

“There are definitely a few holes where you can take advantage of it; if you can get the driver and get it to go over a few bunkers depending on what the wind is, definitely can be an advantage. It's a long golf course to start with,” said Holmes, who moved to 11 under following a third-round 70.

For the sake of competitive clarity, the supporting cast isn’t exactly playing for “B flight” honors just yet. Holmes is, after all, just 1 under in his last 36 holes after beginning the week with a 62 that sent Doral kingpin Donald Trump into damage control.

According to various sources, including Trump, The Don didn’t appreciate his south Florida jewel being manhandled by Holmes on Day 1 and let the PGA Tour know it.

WGC-Cadillac Championship: Articles, videos and photos

Asked on Saturday’s "Morning Drive" if he had any impact on how the Tour set up his Blue Monster, Trump’s answer was telling.

“A lot. Well, let me say this, for the first day I had none. I disagreed, and I said to them that I disagreed that it was set up easy,” Trump said. “The second day I protested. I said, look, we built this as a world championship course and I don’t think the tees should be far forward. They don’t have to be all the way back, but they shouldn’t be forward. I think I probably had a psychological impact, I don’t know.”

But it wasn’t all carnage and collapses on Saturday on the Blue Monster. Within 30 minutes the Trump Invitational went from being a competitive horror flick to a highlight reel with Rickie Fowler holing a shot from the fairway at the par-4 11th followed by aces from Holmes and Dustin Johnson.

From 1990 to 2014 there had been no holes in one at Doral’s fourth hole. On Saturday, in less time than it takes to watch a sitcom, J.B. and DJ had two.

“When you’re atop the leaderboard and you can get a hole in one, that’s awesome,” said Holmes, who like Johnson teed off with a 7-iron at the par 3.

It also proved to be particularly good timing for Holmes, who opened his round for the second consecutive day with a bogey to drop back to 8 under and into a tie with Ryan Moore for the lead.

The ace, Holmes’ second in competition, gave him a cushion and after a bumpy stretch through the turn he birdied four consecutive holes starting at the 14th to distance himself from the field.

A bogey at the last only lessened the psychological impact on the rest of field slightly. Johnson (69) and Bubba Watson (70) will begin Sunday’s final 18 five strokes back, adding to the notion that more so than any other golf course on Tour Doral rewards power.

Moore is alone in third at 5 under, while world No. 1 Rory McIlroy remains mired in early-season rust after a third-round 72 left him 10 strokes out of the lead. Worst yet he still has one more trip up the eighth hole.

On Friday, the world No. 1 left a golf ball and a 3-iron in the lake adjacent to the par 5. Saturday was only slightly better, with McIlroy sending his tee shot into a tree and having to take a drop on his way to a bogey. For the week he’s played the hole 3-6-6. Feast, famine, famine.

Still, Holmes has never gone wire-to-wire on the Tour, a unique position that demands an aversion to protecting a lead.

“I think you have to learn how to [go wire-to-wire]. I think that's something that just sort of comes from experience,” said McIlroy, a man who speaks from experience.

But Holmes does have the luxury of opening his week with a course-record tying 62, which was 11.47 strokes better than the field average on Day 1. Asked if he would have taken three rounds at even par the rest of the way, Holmes didn’t hesitate, “Oh yeah,” he grinned.

“That round was huge,” Holmes said. “In my opinion it’s better than a 59 and it has shown in the scores, there are fewer guys under par now than on Thursday. There’s not many who have gotten close to it.”

Nor are there many who have much of a legitimate chance to catch Mr. 62 on Sunday at Doral barring some sort of disaster. Just remember J.B., spring forward, fall back.

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.

PGA Tour suspends Hensby for anti-doping violation

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 8:02 pm

Mark Hensby has been suspended for one year by the PGA Tour for violating the Tour’s anti-doping policy by failing to provide a sample after notification.

The Tour made the announcement Monday, reporting that Hensby will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

The statement reads:

The PGA Tour announced today that Mark Hensby has violated the Tour Anti-Doping Policy for failing to provide a drug testing sample after notification and has been suspended for a period of one year. He will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

Hensby, 46, won the John Deere Classic in 2004. He played the Web.com Tour this past year, playing just 14 events. He finished 142nd on the money list. He once ranked among the top 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking but ranks No. 1,623 today.

The Sunshine Tour recently suspended player Etienne Bond for one year for failing a drug test. Players previously suspended by the PGA Tour for violating the anti-doping policy include Scott Stallings and Doug Barron.

The PGA Tour implemented revisions to its anti-doping program with the start of the 2017-18 season. The revisions include blood testing and the supplementation of the Tour’s prohibited list to include all of the substances and methods on the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited list. As part of this season’s revisions, the Tour announced it would also begin reporting suspensions due to recreational drug use.

The Tour said it would not issue further comment on Hensby's suspension.