Hooks and Cuts: Krafty Ladies

By Rich LernerMarch 31, 2011, 4:27 am
2007 Kraft Nabisco ChampionshipRANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Hall of Fame member and past Kraft Nabisco champion Juli Inkster says the walk up to the 18th green at Mission Hills, around the pond and in front of the grandstands, is “a great goose bump walk if you’re in contention.”

Another Hall of Fame member Amy Alcott, in 1988, was the first to jump into Poppie’s Pond, spurred by her caddie Billy Curry. The tradition stuck when Donna Andrews took the plunge in 1994, and every winner since has made the most coveted leap in the women’s game.

Here are some more Hooks and Cuts from the year's first major:

  • Natalie Gulbis crystallized the winning formula this week – and at every major for that matter. “You really need to drive it well,” she said. “And make your 5-footers.'
  • Christina Kim, assessing her good friend Michelle Wie: “She’s at a great place in her life right now. She’s doing everything she wants. She’s going to college, playing golf and living a normal life, or as normal as you can get when you’re an iconic figure.”
  • Under the heading, 'As It Should Be,' there’s a bronze statue of the late, great Dinah Shore as players cross the bridge at 18. At a time in the early ‘70s, when the women were playing for purses of $30,000, this tournament debuted with a purse of $110,000, thanks to Dinah. Outside of the U.S. Open, this is the most famous tournament the women play, largely because of Dinah’s love for the LPGA.
  • Gulbis echoed the feeling of plenty of American players, saying, “It’s nice to have three domestic events in a row.”
  • On what separates world No. 1 Yani Tseng from her peers, Kim explained that Tseng “swings like Anthony Kim. She goes at it differently. No one compresses the ball like she does.”
  • Tour Championship winner Maria Hjorth of Sweden says the major she’d most like to win is Women’s British Open. You hear the same sentiment from most European men. 
  • Bumped into Grace Park, back after injuries and burnout. She was once the darling of the LPGA.  “I think I would’ve enjoyed my life a little more,” she said of regrets. “Everything revolved around golf. I was like a machine. It almost became regimented instead of doing it for the love of the game. It’s crucial to have balance in your life. Today I appreciate the gift that is this game.
  • With her pint-sized Jesper Parnevik-style hat, Kim could have been doing stand-up comedy as she recounted a shot she hit last week at the Kia Classic: “I shanked a 5-iron into a tree and couldn’t find it. It came down three groups later.” 
  • Two-time Kraft winner Karrie Webb’s resurgent at 36 with two wins already this year. “Her putting cost her last year,” said Hjorth. “But she’s getting her confidence back in her putting and she’s always been a great ball striker.”
  • Park was part of one of the great finishes of the last decade at this event, and there’ve been so many. In 2004, Aree Song, then a rookie, drilled a 30-foot eagle putt on the final hole to tie Park. Park answered with a 6-footer for birdie and the win, her only major.
  • The par-5 finishing hole is a classic risk-reward that makes for great drama. Two years ago, Kristy McPherson led by one and laid up on 18. Brittany Lincicome bucked up from 210 yards and stuffed her second shot to a few feet, holed the eagle putt and won a major.
  • I told Kim I’d pay good money to watch her jump into Poppie’s Pond after a victory. Bold and bawdy, she cracked with a big laugh, “With a white shirt no doubt.”
  • Talented young Spaniard Beatriz Recari was paired with Wie last week at the Kia Classic. Recari’s caddie is Andreas Thorpe, whose brother Marius plays professionally in Europe. Andreas provided this scouting report on Wie: “She hits it a long ways and really works the ball different ways. She plays more like a man. There aren’t many women who hit a stinger 3-wood like Wie. I’ve seen Suzann Petterson and Sophie Gustafson and they’re considered strong hitters, but even they don’t hit the shots that Michelle hits.”
  • The greens are running at a good 12 on the stimpmeter. If the wind blows, and it can in the desert in the afternoon, Mission Hills could be very difficult.
  • This is the 40th playing of the Kraft Nabisco Championship and the man who’s really responsible for it is David Foster, the late English war hero who was head of Colgate-Palmolive in the 1970s. He looked at women’s golf as a way to push his household products. Eventually, Foster helped jump start women’s events with Colgate’s backing in Japan and Great Britain.
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Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.

Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.

"I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."

Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.

"I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.

Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.

"Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."

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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