#AskLav: Holly, Daly and the unattainable ace

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2014, 3:07 pm

First, a confession: I’ve never had a hole-in-one.

Once, I hit the flag. Another time, the ball apparently burned the edge. But for this 7 handicap, it didn’t matter whether it was a long hole or short, whether there was a 4-iron or a lob wedge in my hand, whether there was a car or bragging rights on the line, whether I was playing well or like a dog, whether it was a mulligan or my first attempt … my tee shot on a par 3 has never found its way into the bottom of a cup. Heck, I’ve only holed out from the fairway twice.

Which makes this week’s news all the more disheartening.

By now you’ve probably seen it: In the Humana Challenge pro-am, John Daly, golf’s most erratic entertainer, made an ace with a brand-new club. On his second hole of the day. With distractingly loud pants. Without even watching the ball go in.

Yes, he needed to be told about the ace, like it just sort of happened, an insignificant detail in a pro-am full of them, no big deal.

Us ace-less golfers? We simply hope for a fortuitous bounce, or for a strange gust of wind, or maybe for a better swing. We watch intently as our tee shots settle 25 feet from the cup, or more likely, miss the green altogether. 

This scribe’s ace may never come, thus extending years and years of hole-in-one futility. But that’s OK – I’ll take Daly’s unclaimed luxury sedan instead.

Now: This week’s mailbag:



It appears someone already is stricken with FedEx Cup fever! But since you asked … Jimmy Walker leads with 1,233 points. That would have put him at No. 16 in last year’s standings, but because the 2013-14 has six more events (those formerly comprising the Fall Series) he’d actually fall lower than that. Of course, it’s way too early to declare that J-Walk is a lock for East Lake, but another high finish or two could seal that spot before spring. Rest assured, there’s still plenty of time for those who didn’t play in the fall to make up ground. 



Man, you must have been listening in to our Golf Channel meeting; we talked for more than an hour about college golf Wednesday. Anyway, this is an answer best reserved for May, when we have more than just the fall schedule to go on, but on Jan. 15, here’s how I think the top 8 will shake out (subject to change in, like, two weeks):

Alabama: Defending champ is the clear-cut No. 1. California: Even without 2013 POY Michael Kim, the Golden Bears have more than enough firepower to reach the finals. Georgia Tech: Deep, experienced team, and boast one of college’s rising stars in Ollie Schniederjans. Illinois: Mike Small is arguably the best coach in the game, and this is close to the same team that advanced to last year’s finals. Texas: Way more talent than their 0-for-fall record indicates. Stanford: From Patrick Rodgers to Cameron Wilson to Jim Liu, there’s a lot to like about the Cardinal this year. Oklahoma State: Great mix of youth and experience has the Cowboys trending upward again. UCF: The Knights have virtually the same team that should have advanced to match play last year. They’re dangerous. 



Slurred speech. Weak knees. Sweaty palms. Playing with Holly will be the most nerve-wracking five hours these Tour pros experience all season. 



That’s a massive leap, mind you, to unseat some of those world-class players who have been entrenched in the top 20 for years. The best bet is Gary Woodland, currently ranked No. 54. It’s possible that he could have had three wins since August – the opposite-field event in Reno, then second-place finishes at the Barclays (where he held the 54-hole lead) and Malaysia (where he lost in a playoff). He has made massive strides in the past few months. Less likely are No. 63 Peter Uihlein and No. 71 Nicolas Colsaerts. If Uihlein can crack the top 50 and get into some of the WGCs and majors, he’ll have a chance to contend and make a big move. If Colsaerts could ever match his prodigious length with his putting – he was ranked 172nd in that category in 2013 – he could be a world-beater. 



A candidate? Sure. He’s playing better than he ever has, and he already has a leg up on the competition. But, as usual, it’ll come down to how Zach fares in the majors. In his last 12 appearances he has just three top 10s, two of which came last summer. His one and only top 10 at the Masters was his surprise victory in extreme conditions in 2007. He missed the cut in his only appearance at Pinehurst (2005). The Open is his best chance to win a major this year, especially if it plays firm and fast, but he MC’d when the event was last held at Hoylake (2006). He’s never played at Valhalla. Pick off one of those majors, and he’ll appear on his first POY ballot. 



This is the final year the Match Play will be held at Dove Mountain, which is good news for everyone; it’s annually ranked as one of the most disliked Tour venues. The suggestion here would be to put the world back in World Golf Championships … within reason, of course. After all, just one (HSBC Champions) of four is played outside the lower 48. How about Brazil? Mexico? Caribbean? Anywhere, really, but that snowy hill in Arizona. 

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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