Sleepy Solheim Thoughts

By Rich LernerSeptember 14, 2003, 4:00 pm
After more than 30 hours of broadcasting over three days, I'm struggling to put meaningful, cogent thought together. Somewhere well beyond tired, I just can't stare blankly any longer at Swedish television, trying to guess through their body language what's being said.
 
So I'm in the lobby of the hotel, 15 feet from a blackjack table where the house wins if both player and dealer have 17, 18 or 19. In other words, I'm not making sense of a whole lot on a Sunday night in Scandinavia. Let me try to sort out a few items then from the Solheim Cup.
 
Forget Patty Sheehan's lineup gaffe for a moment. The Euros were the far better team--more explosive, better putters, and stronger ball strikers.
 
That said, there's no escaping the fact that Sheehan, a spirited, compassionate and funny human being, made a tactical blunder, and not just on Sunday. Michelle Redman should have played the afternoon four-ball on Saturday instead of Wendy Ward, who struggled terribly all three days.
 
As for the singles, there's simply no way you can put Heather Bowie and Ward in the third and fourth positions Sunday and expect to realistically generate serious momentum. You're three down on the road to start the day. You have to - absolutely HAVE to - gamble that your weaker players, positioned further down in the lineup at say 8, 9 or 10, can feed off the energy and momentum created by the proven commodities. Then if it's close, maybe the home team starts to feel the pressure late.
 
But to be in a spot where Cristie Kerr, Meg Mallon, Laura Diaz, Beth Daniel and Kelly Robbins don't matter is unthinkable. Certainly Daniel, Diaz and Kerr, as well as they played Saturday, should have been further up the card. I would have slid Bowie and Ward down toward the 8-9 area and maybe dropped hard-nosed Rosie Jones perhaps to 11th. Robbins as anchor is fine.
 
In any event, it's only a point of discussion, not one to beat to death. Patty stood up as soon as the matches ended and admitted she'd screwed up. She accepted the blame. How many people these days do that? Most would close ranks and get into a hissing contest with the media. So this needn't turn into a 'Let's heap on Patty' party. It's over. It's a golf match.
 
Looking back, Annika's the MVP. She went 4-1, set the proper tone for her team, and made the clutch putt of the week. Her bolt at 17 on Saturday was one of those moments which take great players to the category of legend. She deserves consideration for Sports Illustrated's Athlete of the Year.
 
Unfortunate that some may recall Laura Diaz for the missed putt at 18 on Saturday, because up to that point she hit some of the finest, most daring and timely shots you'll ever see in your lifetime. Should she have waited to putt? Maybe, if only to steady the nerves, though I'm not sure that was even humanly possible. That lost point obviously turned the tide. American hope from that point dripped inevitably to the European well.
 
In addition to Sorenstam, Janice Moodie just destroyed the Americans. She delivered one of the greatest putting displays I've ever seen. Dale Reid should be embarassed for not making Moodie a captain's selection at Interlachen a year ago. And the same can be said in the case of Catriona Matthew, who was also superb.
 
Looking ahead, it's time for the U.S. veteran core of Daniel, Jones, Mallon, and stalwart Juli Inkster to begin to pass the torch. But to whom? Where's the really exciting, young American talent? Diaz can play, and Kuehne and Kerr seem to thrive more on guile and tenacity than raw skill. But combined, the three own just five LPGA victories. Beth Bauer took a step back this year. Natalie Gulbis? Not now anyway.
 
Look at the young Euros. They're physically much more impressive than the Americans. Suzann Petterson, Sophie Gustafson and Iben Tinning are all strapping, athletic and hard-hitting types.
 
Finally, conjecture or criticism aside, the Solheim Cup exceeded whatever expectation I may have had. The excitement on Saturday was as intense as any Ryder Cup I've seen. The quality of shots under pressure was extraordinary. It's a shame the women don't see crowds like this more frequently. A little noise changes the game, doesn't it?
 
Also, Sweden proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that it's fully capable of hosting a major golf competition. The galleries were knowledgeable,
respectful and enthusiastic.
 
At the risk of sounding trite, it truly was a memorable week. And now it's time to take one last crack at deciphering the Swedish television offerings, to stare blankly until I nod off. The charter home leaves early. It's time to go.
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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