Hooks and Cuts: Match Play Nuggets

By Rich LernerFebruary 23, 2011, 6:16 am

MARANA, Ariz. – This week – and for the only time on the PGA Tour all season – the men will compete against one another in a match play format. On the eve of the event, here are a few nuggets to chew on:

  • Friday at the Ryder Cup, Thursday at the Masters and Wednesday at the Match Play – the three best weekdays in golf.
  • On paper, these are the best Round 1 match-ups: Lee Westwood against former champ Henrik Stenson, who’s a shadow of the guy who won here in '07; Steve Stricker against Matteo Mannasero with Stricker celebrating his 44th birthday against a 17-year-old; Ian Poulter against Stewart Cink in a twitter showdown; Ernie Els against Jeff Overton; Geoff Ogilvy against Padraig Harrington; Tiger Woods against Thomas Bjorn; and Hunter Mahan against Sean O’Hair in a battle of Sean Foley students.
  • WGC-Match Play TV Schedule
    (All times Eastern)

    Golf Channel_new
    Wed: Noon-6 p.m.

    Thurs: 2-6 p.m.
    Fri: 2-6 p.m.
    Sat: Noon-2 p.m.
    Sun: 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

    NBC Sports
    Sat: 2-6 p.m.

    Sun: 2-6 p.m.

    One swing theorist I know swears that Foley’s channeling Mac O’Grady in his work with Tiger.
  • It's tempting to look ahead to some tasty Day 2 matchups, like Woods against Harrington, Bubba Watson against Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler against Phil Mickelson or Mannasero against Ryo Ishikawa in a teen idol duel. Graeme McDowell says he’s just trying to make it past lunch on Wednesday.
  • Randall Mell reports that the average world ranking of this year’s PGA Tour winners is 151. Hard to build a marketing campaign around him, but Rank and File’s been better than Young Gun and better than Bankable Star. 
  • Overton’s a sleeper. Ryan Palmer is, too. Beware the Retief Goosen. But Martin Kaymer’s the pick.
  • There are two scary possibilities with Tiger. One is that he masters the low bullet fade and starts hitting fairways with regularity. The other is that he develops the full swing yips. 
  • Westwood’s agent Chubby Chandler meets with Tim Finchem this week. His message will be simple: “We have nothing against The PGA Tour,” he said.  
  • Ogilvy says he won the 2006 U.S. Open thanks to his victory earlier that year at the Match Play. 'I might’ve had 25 must make putts that week at the Match Play,' he said. 'Or you feel they are must make at the time and you might have one of them every month in stroke-play events. So I felt really good about making pressure putts and pressure up-and-downs at the U.S. Open because I’d done it at the Match Play.'
  • Quarterfinal match-ups that would excite include: Mickelson against McDowell and Woods against Els.
  • Kaymer hit one slightly peeled tracer after the next on the practice tee this morning, the kind that wins U.S. Opens. His Augusta draw he says, is a work in progress.
  • Tiger’s the most likely top seed to go down on Day 1 if only because Bjorn just won in Qatar. 
  • McIlroy arrives with less hair and less body fat. He’s fit and trimmed.
  • Vijay Singh might’ve been dangerous, but he got rolling too late.
  • In the Nick O’Hern role of left-handed, Australian upset specialist, Richard Green’s a threat to send Paul Casey packing.
  • One reporter pointed out that should Poulter lose, he could be done by 11 a.m. local time Wednesday, making his the shortest title defense in history.
  • Hard to believe, but in 10 previous appearances here, Phil’s made it to the quarterfinals just once and never to the semis.
  • Ben Crane’s releasing his third video spoof soon; this one believe it or not on slow play. In the realm of positive changes in the public perception of an athlete, it may not equal George Foreman’s transformation from surly ring monster to lovable grill pitchman, but Crane going from slowest player on the planet to 'Saturday Night Live'-style comic actor is impressive. 
  • Ogilvy dabbles with the guitar as an escape from golf. He loves Jimi Hendrix. 'He was like Seve,' says Ogilvy. 'He did stuff that no one though was possible.' That’s why we love Ogilvy. He may be the only player capable of drawing that comparison.
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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