Wakeup-call hole puts Day back on track

By Rex HoggardJuly 30, 2016, 12:33 am

SPRINGFIELD, N.J. – This wasn’t what Jason Day expects from himself. This wasn’t what the golf world expects from the world No. 1.

In a blur of flying grass, poor choices and even worse execution, Day sent his drive sailing into the Baltusrol woods, launched his next shot into a bunker in an overly aggressive bid to reach the green and sailed his third over the green into the type of hay where major championship dreams go to die.

All told, Day’s seventh hole on Friday at the PGA Championship added up to a double-bogey 6, sending the Australian tumbling to even par, closer to the cut line than contention.

“I gave myself a little kick in the bum,” Day said of the moments after his misadventure on the seventh.

Pressed for more details, bullet points even, regarding that internal pep talk the father of two admitted, “A few swear words inside my head.”

Day has spoken in the past about the expectations of being the world No. 1, the heavy weight he feels every time he tees it up to perform up to that standard. This is, after all, the same man who became inspired to play golf by reading a book about Tiger Woods.

It stands to reason then that his performance on the seventh hole just wouldn’t do.

“Just really I played that hole so bad that it was really frustrating for me. Why are you doing that? Why are you giving shots to the field when you don't need to do that?” Day explained. “Don't do little silly errors like that and potentially give them two shots on that hole.”

What followed that impromptu scolding may well go down as the turning point that delivers Day his second consecutive date with the Wanamaker Trophy.

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Day kept it simple at No. 8, hit the fairway, hit the green, make a putt – birdie.

To those with a front-row view, however, Day’s birdie at the eighth was much more nuanced and impressive.

“He had a [approach] shot on 8 that was really cool to watch,” said Phil Mickelson, who was paired with Day on Friday. “I haven't seen anybody with his power be able to hit that shot where we've got 86 yards, a back pin, it's soft and spinning and pitched.

“To take a club that usually goes about 125, hit it 40 yards less than the normal number and skid it in there and get the ball to not spin, his power and his wedge play coupled with his putting are combinations you don't see very often.”

With respect to Mickelson, who is widely considered the greatest wedge player of his generation, what followed from an entertainment perspective was just as impressive.

Day birdied his next three holes after the seventh, took a breather at the 11th before adding four more birdies in a row. That’s eight holes, seven birdies.

“I had some momentum stoppage with the double bogey, but once I birdied [No.] 8, the momentum started picking up and it picked up pretty quick,” Day said. “I felt good on the green; I had to get myself on the green and hole the putt.”

Day would complete his round in 65 strokes to move to 7 under par, just two strokes off the lead held by Jimmy Walker and Robert Streb.

That he’s in contention without making a single birdie on either of Baltusrol’s par 5s for two days is the kind of statistic that keeps other players up at night. That he’s within a layup of becoming just the second player since the PGA went to stroke play to win this event in back-to-back years considering how his week started defies explanation.

Day saw Baltusrol for the first time on Wednesday afternoon. He traveled from the RBC Canadian Open on Monday and took Tuesday off to nurse a cold.

Day contends that the extra rest has helped him keep his focus in the sweltering New Jersey summer, and figures his own lowered expectations given his abbreviated preparation have also been a bonus.

“I think being able to kind of voice where I'm at mentally and physically with my health takes a lot of expectations off my shoulders and lets everyone know that I don't have a lot of expectation coming to the week,” Day said.

It’s standard fare to ask Day about his health given his eventful past, and as he headed home on Friday night he was asked if he was feeling better.

“I'm feeling pretty good. No excuses,” he smiled. “Guys have won on worse. Tiger at the [2008] U.S. Open with a broken leg. I've got a cold. It's not the same.”

Although the diagnoses didn’t match Woods’ at Torrey Pines, the former world No. 1 could certainly appreciate Day’s comeback on Friday.

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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.