Resilient Streb comes out on top at McGladrey

By Rex HoggardOctober 26, 2014, 11:45 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – It was a playoff potpourri.

There was the veteran hot on the comeback trail, the affable champion-in-waiting trying to shed the double-edged moniker “Best player without a Tour title,” and the newcomer vying to make a name for himself.

Seems about right that a place known for its captivating sunsets would turn into a race against darkness. Not that Robert Streb thought he would be around when the dust and dusk settled.

Not after he began his week by snap hooking his opening tee shot into a bush on Thursday on his way to a double bogey. Not after he began the day five strokes off the lead and promptly bogeyed his first hole on Sunday.

But Streb is nothing if not resilient, as his slow and largely unspectacular climb to the winner’s circle has proven. This is the same player, after all, who couldn’t land a spot on the golf team at his beloved University of Oklahoma and instead turned to Kansas State, hardly a NCAA powerhouse, because, “getting that degree was more important.”

Much like most things in the 27-year-old’s life, his climb to the McGladrey Classic title was long and very much in doubt until the very end. Even when he signed for a 7-under 63 more than an hour before the frontrunners were finished for a 14-under total, he didn’t figure his time had come.

“When we got on (No.) 18 and saw we were tied I thought we might get into a playoff if we birdied the 18th,” said Streb’s caddie, Steve Catlin.

Streb didn’t birdie the closing hole, but as the day wore on it became more and more likely he’d get a second chance at his first PGA Tour title.

Brendon de Jonge took his share of the lead with a birdie at the 12th hole, but played his last six holes in even par to finish at 14 under; and the always entertaining Will MacKenzie three-putted No. 16 for bogey, but scratched his way into the playoff with a 5 footer for birdie at the penultimate hole.

At the first playoff hole, No. 18, MacKenzie pushed his drive into the right rough and found a greenside bunker with his approach for bogey in his attempt to win his third Tour title and his first since 2008.

“I didn’t blow it but I didn’t execute like I needed to,” said MacKenzie, who lost his Tour card in 2012 but posted five top-10 finishes last season and advanced to the third playoff event.

It wasn’t until the second extra frame that Streb felt in control of the tournament when his 8-iron tee shot sailed to 4 feet for birdie to secure his breakthrough.

“I never really came back from that far behind,” said Streb, whose best finish before the McGladrey Classic was a runner-up showing earlier this year at the Zurich Classic. “So I know it could be done, but it didn't really cross my mind there until the end.”

For de Jonge it was another heartbreak that has now stretched to 212 Tour starts without a “W,” and as he made his way to his car he embraced the question that has been building since his first runner-up finish at the 2012 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.

“I do think about (being the best player without a Tour title) just because I’ve had so many chances, because I’ve been there or there abouts the lead so many times,” de Jonge said. “It wears on me but it’s up to me to break through.”

For MacKenzie, the McGladrey Classic was an opportunity to complete a comeback that began early last season with five top-10 finishes in his first 13 events. Although he didn’t finish the year the way he would have wanted, his play at Sea Island Resort was another indication he is headed in the right direction.

“It was a tough day. I didn't have my game, but I actually hit a lot of great shots today,” said MacKenzie, one of 21 players in this week’s field headed for next week’s stop in Malaysia.

“I was hitting it on the right side of the hole playing smart, smart, conservative, solid golf, but then you know, time was kind of ticking and you kept thinking, ‘When is he going to screw one of these up?’”

Time is now on Streb’s side.

With Streb and his wife Maggie expecting the couple’s first child in February, his overtime victory scored him two years of job security and a start at next year’s Masters, which will be his first major start.

It was a triumph that began with last season’s near-miss in New Orleans, when he finished two shots behind Seung-Yul Noh.

“I think he believed in himself then,” Catlin said.

That belief was fueled even more in September when Streb eagled the final hole to finish tied for ninth at the Deutsche Bank Championship, a rally he initially thought earned him a spot in the third FedEx Cup playoff stop.

But in one of the mathematical twists that has become so much a part of golf’s playoffs, Jason Day birdied the 18th hole in the final round at TPC Boston to bump Streb out of the top 7 and two points behind Jerry Kelly for the 70th spot on the FedEx Cup point list and a start at the BMW Championship.

“Honestly I thought I'd made it to the BMW,” Streb said. “You know, I guess it kind of keeps you hungry if you keep getting there. But you know, you're obviously not going to achieve all your goals right from the get-go.”

Although he needed more than two seasons on Tour and 74 holes at Sea Island, he finally arrived at his championship crossroads, which – at least for Streb – seemed right on schedule.

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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.