Monday Scramble: Top 10 favorites for Baltusrol

By Ryan LavnerJuly 25, 2016, 3:40 pm

Jhonattan Vegas (somehow) wins in Canada, Steve Wheatcroft blades a bunker shot, Tiger Woods shuts it down for the season, the U.S. celebrates a team title and more in this week's edition of Monday Scramble:

A week after Henrik Stenson made golf look so easy, the final round of the Canadian Open offered a harsh reminder of how difficult it is to win at the elite level.

Vegas posted 12-under 276 and watched for the next hour as contender after contender faltered down the stretch. 

Ricky Barnes snap-hooked his tee shot on 18. Martin Laird’s drive barely rolled into a fairway bunker, leaving an awkward stance. Dustin Johnson’s approach covered the flag but flew about five yards too far.

And, most notably, Wheatcroft went par-bogey-bogey on the gettable last three holes, including a bladed bunker shot into the water on the 72nd hole.

It’s a hard-earned victory for Vegas, who has battled multiple injuries over the past few seasons. That he was the last man standing was the real surprise. 

"Those are the fortunate breaks that sometimes you need to be a champion on the PGA Tour," Vegas said.


1. Vegas won in his second start in the big leagues, at PGA West in 2011. All of a sudden, the little-known Venezuelan was transformed into “Johnny Vegas,” a recognizable, young, affable star who was poised to take the Tour by storm.

It didn’t quite turn out like that, of course. A left-shoulder injury and lack of belief derailed his progress, and he recorded only four top-10s the next four seasons combined. 

Now fully healthy, Vegas, 31, had chances to win in Mississippi, in New Orleans and again last week in Alabama, where he shot a second-round 60 but followed with back-to-back scores of 72.

When he finished off his 64 Sunday, it seemed like it would, at best, be enough for a playoff. Instead, he walked away a winner, again.

“I thought that I could have kept it going, winning a few times right after (the 2011 breakthrough),” he said. “But obviously putting aside the injuries, it’s just hard to win out here. You have to play well from beginning all the way to the end, and obviously like today, you have to have things work out your way to win.”  

2. Of the many guys who came up short – a list including the red-hot Johnson and 54-hole leader Brandt Snedeker – Wheatcroft’s close call could have the most significant ramifications. 

Wheatcroft, a 38-year-old journeyman who was making his 130th Tour start, entered last week at No. 153 on the FedEx Cup points list, outside the bubble to retain his card for next season. With the regular season winding down, he desperately needed a high finish. 

He made par on the easy 16th, bogeyed the short 17th from the middle of the fairway and then tugged his second shot into the par-5 finisher into a greenside bunker. If he made par, he would have salvaged his day, finishing in a four-way tie for second and earning enough points to cross the No. 125 threshold (at least for now). But he made bogey, and now he sits at No. 134 with only three regular-season starts remaining. Next month, those miscues could loom large.

3. Interestingly, Wheatcroft’s skull wasn’t the first odd shot we saw out of the bunkers at Glen Abbey. The depth of sand seemed inconsistent, at best.

Said Wheatcroft of his now-infamous blade into the drink: “It was an easy shot, to be honest with you. I dug my feet in and realized there was zero sand underneath my shoes. Obviously you can’t test the surface. But I mean, you can’t play from that. I don’t know what I could have done any different. … I hit right where I wanted to and the club absolutely bounced off the sand. There was nothing in there. … 

“It’s a brutal way to lose a golf tournament. I didn’t feel like I did much wrong in there.” 

Yes, bunkers are supposed to be hazards, but there is also a certain expectation when your ball lands in one of the traps.

"Basically," Graham DeLaet said, "it was like hitting a flop shot off a cart path."

4. The bladed bunker shot will get all of the attention, of course. But if Wheatcroft was granted a mulligan, here’s guessing he’ll start in the fairway on the 17th hole. 

Tied for the lead, he had only 81 yards to the green when he dumped his wedge shot into the bunker and made bogey. This came after he made 5 from the fairway on the par-5 16th, as well. 

5. Jon Rahm may have been disappointed walking off the 18th green, after his eagle putt to tie slid by on the left, but he departed Toronto with plenty to look forward to. 

With a three-way tie for second, Rahm can earn his full PGA Tour card for next season with a top-10 in one of his next three starts, at the Travelers, John Deere or Wyndham Championship.

"I'm halfway through the exemption that I have, three more tournaments, and I'm really close," he said. "I just need to keep playing the way I am and hopefully get it done."

The former No. 1-ranked amateur in the world has acquitted himself well in the pro ranks, with a pair of top-3 finishes. He’s the real deal. 



6. So, apparently, is his former teammate at Arizona State, rising senior Jared du Toit. The Canadian flew under the radar (understandably) for the Sun Devils this past season, finishing second on the team in scoring average with his best finish a tie for fifth.

But he looked like one of the game's most promising up-and-comers at his home Open. Playing in the final group, in his Tour debut, he handled the nerves and seemed unburdened by the weight of an entire country on his shoulders. He finished in a tie for ninth, the first Canadian amateur with a top-10 at the Open since Doug Bajus in 1954. 

"It was truly unbelievable," du Toit said. "I'm on cloud nine right now."

Yes, we've seen better finishes by amateurs in recent months – Lee McCoy, remember, tied for fourth at the Tour event at Tampa – but this was the most impressive performance.

7. Here are one man’s top 10 picks for the PGA Championship, which gets underway 11 days after the most recent major:

  1. 1. Dustin Johnson: His last six starts: 3-5-1-1-9-2. Let's not overcomplicate this.
  2. 2. Rory McIlroy: He isn’t about to go two years without a major, right? Baltusrol is an ideal fit for his brawny game. 
  3. 3. Jason Day: Maybe he’s not as sharp as a few months ago, but he pounds it off the tee, launches it a mile high and is one of the Tour’s best putters.
  4. 4. Jordan Spieth: Really, he’s one tee shot from having another tremendous year. There’s plenty of motivation to end this major season.   
  5. 5. Henrik Stenson: That stellar form doesn’t disappear just because he crossed the Atlantic.
  6. 6. Sergio Garcia: The past two majors have seen “breakthrough” winners. The time is now for Garcia, who has five top-5s in his last six starts.
  7. 7. Phil Mickelson: He has good vibes at Baltusrol, where he won in 2005, and he has good vibes with his game, after his sensational performance at Troon.
  8. 8. J.B. Holmes: He’s one of only three players in the OWGR top 50 with top-5s in two of the first three majors.
  9. 9. Patrick Reed: Take DJ off the board, and no one has had a more consistent year than Reed, with nine top-10s.
  10. 10. Adam Scott: Yes, he’s cooled since his torrid spring, but he is a perennial contender who checks all of the boxes at a major venue. 


8. Last week, agent Mark Steinberg confirmed to GolfChannel.com that Woods would miss the rest of the season as he continues to recover from multiple back surgeries last fall.

The news sounded worse than it actually is. 

There are only three regular-season events remaining that Woods could play. It made little sense to return if he would have to sit out another two months because of the FedEx Cup playoffs.

If fans are looking for a silver lining, Steinberg offered one: Woods is rehabbing and "working hard to then assess when he starts play for the 2016-17 season."

Note his use of “when,” not “if” Woods will play next season.

9. As for when he will return, it’s still a guess. Given the volume of the reports suggesting that Woods was set to come back in early May, it’s reasonable to wonder whether he suffered a setback this spring during his recovery. Woods has insisted that he's simply taking his time.

Looking ahead to possible landing spots ... the Safeway Open in Napa, an event he has played previously, is two months away. Good friend Davis Love III’s event at Sea Island (Nov. 17-20) is also an option. And it’d be a mild surprise if he didn’t play his World Challenge event in the Bahamas, seeing how it’s a limited field, it’s more than 14 months after his most recent surgery, and it’s a perfect spot – to borrow a baseball phrase – for a rehab assignment. We shall see. 



10. What looked like a disastrous year for U.S. women’s golf suddenly has turned in the right direction.

Two weeks after Brittany Lang won the U.S. Women’s Open, an American quartet of Lexi Thompson, Stacy Lewis, Cristie Kerr and Gerina Piller overcame an opening-day sweep to win the International Crown. 

The comeback victory may have been sweet, but a four-day competition, in which the U.S. didn't face top-seeded South Korea during the fourball portion, did little to silence some of the lingering questions about the state of the Americans.

Lewis, a former world No. 1, still hasn’t won in more than two years. The holes in Thompson’s awesome game have been exposed against the dominant, consistent forces like Lydia Ko and Brooke Henderson. Kerr is 38. And Piller, for all of her high finishes, is still winless.

The U.S. squad has proven adept at match play, no doubt, but when will that begin to translate against all of the elite players in a regular stroke-play tournament?

11. New European Tour CEO Keith Pelley hasn’t been afraid to shake things up. He’s allowed shorts in pro-ams. He’s cracked down on slow play. 

And now there is a new initiative: He wants to bring a six-hole tournament to the European Tour, perhaps as soon as 2017.

In an effort to #GrowTheGame, Pelley wants to see a six-hole match-play event between countries with a shot clock, music, a limited set of clubs and casual attire.

“If you’re not prepared to change,” he said in a radio interview, “if you’re not prepared to be innovative, if you’re not prepared to take chances, then I do believe that the sports that aren’t will fall behind.” 

12. If there’s one guy who can shrug off losing a major, it’s Miguel Angel Jimenez. The coolest man in golf, who boasted on the eve of the final round that he would prepare by eating dinner with friends, drinking whisky and smoking a cigar, came undone on the final day at Carnoustie.

His four-shot lead was gone by the time he made the turn. He shot 75 – the worst score of anyone in the top 15 – and lost by three shots to Englishman Paul Broadhurst, who was making his senior debut. 

“I was a little bit tense in the beginning of the round," Jimenez said, "and didn’t play as well as (Saturday’s 65), no?”


Look, I love fantasy sports as much as anyone. I play in five different golf leagues, in all kinds of formats, and usually fare pretty well. It's fun to outsmart your peers.

But let’s get a grip, people.

These were some of the comments directed at PGA Tour veteran Ryan Palmer by Twitter user @InJerichosWords:

@RyanPalmerPGA I've had better scorecards... I play once every 2 months. You f------ serious? 

@RyanPalmerPGA with the weekend collapse... never fails

Maybe @RyanPalmerPGA will withdraw so we don't lose points on every f------ hole on Sunday. 

@RyanPalmerPGA if I knew you were going to f me again you should've used lube thanks alot

All this abuse ... because Palmer went 70-73-73-70 and finished in a tie for 43rd at the Canadian Open.

Each week in the Scramble, I joke about the “Blown Fantasy Pick of the Week.” It’s usually a guy who I thought would play well and didn’t pan out, for whatever reason. It’s OK. We moved on. Fantasy sports are supposed to be fun.

Obviously, there are some oddballs on social media whose only mission is to spread hate, which is why I appreciated Palmer’s responses to this particularly vicious troll: 

Congrats. Keep striving there big boy. Sorry for your rough day, sun will come up on Sunday. Thanks for watching 

Well, I'll give it one more shot tomorrow just for you sweetheart! 

Someone needs a hug I think!!! It's all going to be ok. Enjoy your Sunday 

Well played, sir. 

This week's award winners ... 


A Match Made in Sponsorship Heaven: Andrew Johnston and Arby’s. Seriously, it took this long for a guy nicknamed “Beef” to earn some cash from a fast-food chain.

Worst Luck of the Week: Charley Hull. After making six birdies and an eagle to single-handedly beat the American squad in the first fourballs match, Hull became ill after suffering from an asthma attack. She couldn’t play Friday, helped knock off the Jutanugarn sisters on Saturday and got blown out in singles Sunday. Oh, what could have been.

Back for the First Time: Chambers Bay. The cool moonscape venue, which the USGA ruined in advance of last year’s U.S. Open, will get another shot on the national stage as it was selected for the 2019 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball. It’s likely a trial run for another Open.   

Too Much Time on His Hands: Pat Perez. After undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery in the spring, he's apparently passing the time by appearing in weird music videos.

Don’t Mess with the Lees: Minjee and Min Woo. Min Woo, 17, followed in his sister’s footsteps (2012) and won the U.S. Junior Amateur last weekend. They are the first brother-sister duo to accomplish the feat. 

Comeback Company: Vegas. He became the fourth player this season (Smylie Kaufman, Fabian Gomez, Stenson) to shoot 8 under or better in the final round to win. 

How's the Tour's Life Insurance Policy?: Pre-tournament activities at the Canadian Open.

Blown Fantasy Pick of the Week: Emiliano Grillo. An outside-the-box pick, sure, but he came to Canada with top-15s in four of his past five starts. Instead, he needed to rally to make the cut and finished in a tie for 43rd. Sigh. 

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 3, Tiger Woods

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 12:45 pm

After returning to competition at the Hero World Challenge in December 2016, Woods started the new year with an ambitious slate of tournament starts as he eyed his first full season since 2013. But he made it only three rounds, looking rusty en route to a missed cut at Torrey Pines before withdrawing abruptly in Dubai.

The “spasms” that led to that withdrawal turned out to be something far more serious, as Woods underwent his fourth and most invasive back surgery in April, a lumbar fusion. It brought with it an extensive rehabilitation, and at the Presidents Cup in September Woods humored the prospect that he might never again play competitive golf.

At Liberty National he also faced some scrutiny for an off-course incident from months prior. In May he was arrested for suspicion of DUI, an incident that produced a startling roadside video of an intoxicated Woods struggling to follow instructions from the arresting officer after driving erratically.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


While he was not drinking at the time, Woods was found to have a mix of several prescription medications in his system, including multiple painkillers. He checked himself into a private drug treatment program in July to address his dependency issues, and in October he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of reckless driving.

But the incident was barely a memory when Woods again made a return to competition in the Bahamas at the tournament he hosts. This time around he exceeded nearly every expectation, twice shooting 4-under 68 while tying for ninth among the 18-man field. Having re-tooled his swing following fusion surgery, Woods appeared relaxed, happy and healthy while briefly taking the lead during the tournament’s second round.

What lies ahead for Woods in 2018 remains uncertain, as the stop-and-start nature of this past season serves as a cautionary tale. But after a harrowing arrest and another serious surgery, he seems once again focused on his game, intent on chasing down a new crop of elite talent, some of whom are barely more than half his age.

Woods' initial comeback short-lived, leads to another back surgery

Article: Woods undergoes "successful" fourth back surgery

Article: Woods (back spasm) withdraws from Dubai

Article: Players disappointed Woods withdraws from Dubai

Really, again: Tiger undergoes fourth back surgery

Begay on Tiger: Future is 'extremely uncertain'


Woods arrested for DUI, enters diversion program after getting "professional help"

Article: Woods arrested for DUI in May

Article: Police say Woods had 5 drugs in system when arrested

Article: DUI affidavit states Tiger asleep in parked car

Dashcam video released of Tiger's DUI arrest

Begay, Rolfing: Tiger's arrest needs to be wakeup call

Photos: Tiger Woods' car during DUI arrest

Tiger Woods at his 2017 DUI court hearing.

Photos: Tiger Woods in court for DUI hearing

Article: Tiger gets 'professional help' for prescription meds

Tiger Woods at his 2017 DUI court hearing.

Article: Woods pleads in court guilty to reckless driving


Woods goes from unsure of his pro golf future to resuming full golf activities

Article: Doctor clears Woods for full golf activity six months after back surgery

Article: Tiger doesn't know what future holds

Article: Woods back to making full swings

Woods admits he might never return to competition

Making progress: Breaking down Tiger's driver swing


Woods returns to competition for first time since February at Hero World Challenge

Article: Hero comeback a success for healthy Woods

Article: Woods discusses his back: 'No issues at all, none'

Tiger Tracker: Woods finished T-9 in return to competition

Chamblee: 'I was wrong' about some of my Woods skepticism

Tiger, if you were hurting, would you tell us? 'Yeah, I'd tell you'


Woods out and about in 2017

Article: Video, images of Tiger's round with Trump

Article: Woods posts photo as 'Mac Daddy Santa'

Article: Tiger at U.S. Open sitting in Nadal's box

Article: Shirtless Tiger holds up a massive lobster

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 12:30 pm
Getty Images

NBC Sports' Coverage of LPGA Tour in 2017 Most-Viewed Season Ever for NBC Sports

By Golf Channel Public RelationsDecember 13, 2017, 8:45 pm

NBC Sports’ LPGA Tour Coverage Ties 2013 for Most-Watched Year Since 2011

NBC and Golf Channel Boast Top-6 Most-Watched Women’s Golf Telecasts in 2017

Beginning with the dramatic playoff finish at the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic in January and concluding with Lexi Thompson winning the $1 million Race to the CME Globe, nearly 22 million viewers tuned in to LPGA Tour coverage across Golf Channel and NBC in 2017. This makes 2017 the most-viewed LPGA Tour season across NBC Sports since Golf Channel joined the NBC Sports Group in 2011. Additionally, 2017 tied 2013 as the LPGA Tour’s most-watched year across NBC Sports since 2011. Coverage drew an average of 221,000 viewers per telecast in 2017 (+24% vs. 2016), according to data released by The Nielsen Company.

NBC SPORTS GROUP CLAIMS TOP-6 MOST-WATCHED WOMEN’S GOLF TELECASTS IN ‘17

For the first time ever in televised women’s golf, Sunday’s final round of the RICOH Women’s British Open (Sunday, Aug. 6, 2017, 1.1 million viewers) delivered the most-watched and highest-rated women’s golf telecast of the year. NBC’s Saturday (Day 2) coverage of the Solheim Cup in August placed second with 968,000 viewers, followed by Sunday’s Solheim Cup coverage on NBC with 946,000 viewers. Golf Channel’s live coverage of Sunday’s final day of the Solheim Cup drew 795,000 viewers, the most-watched women’s golf event on cable in eight years.

Rank

Network

Event

Day

Avg. Viewers P2+

1

NBC

RICOH WOMEN'S BRITISH OPEN

Sunday

1,100,526

2

NBC

SOLHEIM CUP

Saturday

968,202

3

NBC

SOLHEIM CUP

Sunday

946,387

4

NBC

KPMG WOMEN'S PGA CHAMPIONSHIP

Sunday

839,983

5

NBC

RICOH WOMEN'S BRITISH OPEN

Saturday

808,578

6

GOLF

SOLHEIM CUP

Sunday

795,000

ADDITIONAL VIEWERSHIP MILESTONES FOR WOMEN’S GOLF IN 2017

  • ANA Inspiration - The LPGA’s first major championship delivered thefifth most-watched LPGA final round in Golf Channel history with 551,000 viewers when So Yeon Ryu defeated Lexi Thompson in a playoff following Thompson being assessed a four-stroke penalty earlier in the final round.
  • KPMG Women’s PGA Championship – The LPGA’s second major was seen by 6.6 million viewers across Golf Channel and NBC, the largest audience for the event on record (2006-17). Sunday’s final round on NBC, which saw Danielle Kang win her first LPGA Tour event over defending champion Brooke Henderson, also was the most-watched telecast in the event’s history with 840,000 average viewers.
  • RICOH Women’s British Open – NBC’s Sunday coverage of the RICOH Women’s British Open delivered the most-watched and highest-rated women’s golf telecast in 2017 (.78 U.S. HH rating, 1.1 million viewers). In total, 7 million unique viewers tuned in to coverage across Golf Channel and NBC, the most-watched RICOH Women’s British Open in the past 10 years and the most-watched among the five women’s major championships in 2017.
  • Solheim Cup – Seen by a total audience of 7.3 million viewers across Golf Channel and NBC, the Solheim Cup posted the largest total audience for women’s golf since the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open on ESPN/NBC. Golf Channel’s live coverage of the final day drew 795,000 average viewers, becoming the most-watched women’s golf telecast on cable in the last eight years, since the final day of the 2009 Solheim Cup.

GOLF CHANNEL DIGITAL POSTS RECORD STREAMING CONSUMPTION

Golf Channel Digital posted record numbers of LPGA streaming consumption with 11.9 million live minutes streamed across LPGA Tour telecasts in 2017 (+563% vs. 2016).

  • Solheim Cup – Three-day coverage of the Solheim Cup saw 6.3 million minutes streamed across NBC Sports’ Digital platforms, trailing only the 2016 Rio Olympics (9 million) as the most-ever for a women’s golf event airing on Golf Channel / NBC.
  • RICOH Women’s British Open – Four-day coverage of the RICOH Women’s British Open saw 2 million minutes streamed, +773% vs. 2016.

NBC Sports Group combined to air 31 LPGA Tour events in 2017 and a total of 420 hours of coverage, the most in LPGA history. The exclusive cable home to the LPGA Tour, Golf Channel aired coverage of four of five women’s major championships in 2017, with three majors also airing on NBC: the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, RICOH Women’s British Open and The Evian Championship. The biennial Solheim Cup also returned to network television for the first time in 15 years with weekend coverage on NBC.

Source: Nielsen 2017 Live+Same Day DVR vs. prior available data. Persons 2+ avg 000’s and/or Persons 2+ reach w/six-minute qualifier. Digital Metrics from Adobe Reports & Analytics. Details available.

Hensby takes full responsibility for violation

By Rex HoggardDecember 13, 2017, 5:28 pm

The PGA Tour’s Anti-Doping Program manual covers 48 pages of details, from the pressing to the mundane, but for Mark Hensby the key section of the policy could be found on Page 5.

“The collector may allow you to delay reporting to the testing area for unavoidable obligations; however, you will be monitored from the time of notification until completion of the sample collection process,” the policy reads. “A failure to report to the testing area by the required time is the same as a doping violation under the program.”

Hensby, a 46-year-old former Tour winner from Australia, didn’t read that section, or any other part of the manual. In fact, he said he hasn’t received the circuit’s anti-doping manual in years. Not that he uses that as an excuse.

To be clear, Hensby doesn’t blame his anti-doping plight on anyone else.

“At the end of the day it’s my responsibility. I take full responsibility,” he told GolfChannel.com.

Like Doug Barron, Scott Stallings and even Vijay Singh before him, Hensby ran afoul of the Tour’s anti-doping policy because, essentially, of a clerical error. There were no failed tests, no in-depth investigations, no seedy entourages who sent Hensby down a dark road of performance-enhancing drug use.

Just a simple misunderstanding combined with bad timing.

Hensby, who last played a full season on Tour in 2003, had just completed the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship when he was approached by a member of the Tour’s anti-doping testing staff. He was angry about his play and had just used the restroom on the 17th hole and, he admits, was in no mood to wait around to take the urine test.

“Once I said, ‘Can I take it in the morning,’ [the Tour’s anti-doping official] said, ‘We can’t hold you here,’” Hensby recalled. “I just left.”

Not one but two officials called Hensby that night to ask why he’d declined to take the test, and he said he was even advised to return to the Country Club of Jackson (Miss.) to take the test, which is curious because the policy doesn’t allow for such gaps between notification of a test and the actual testing.

According to the policy, a player is considered in violation of the program if he leaves the presence of the doping control officers without providing the required sample.

A Tour official declined to comment on the matter citing the circuit’s policy not to comment on doping violations beyond the initial disclosure.

A week later, Hensby was informed he was in violation of the Tour’s policy and although he submitted a letter to the commissioner explaining the reasons for his failure to take the test he was told he would be suspended from playing in any Tour-sanctioned events (including events on the Web.com Tour) for a year.

“I understand now what the consequences are, but you know I’ve been banned for a performance-enhancing drug violation, and I don’t take performance-enhancing drugs,” Hensby said.

Hensby isn’t challenging his suspension nor did he have any interest in criticizing the Tour’s policy, instead his message two days after the circuit announced the suspension was focused on his fellow Tour members.

“I think the players need to read that manual really, really well. There are things I wasn’t aware of and I think other players weren’t aware of either,” he said. “You have to read the manual.”

It was a similar message Stallings offered following his 90-day suspension in 2015 after he turned himself in for using DHEA, an anabolic agent that is the precursor to testosterone production and banned by the Tour.

“This whole thing was a unique situation that could have been dealt with differently, but I made a mistake and I owned up to it,” Stallings said at the time.

Barron’s 2009 suspension, which was for a year, also could have been avoided after he tested positive for supplemental testosterone and a beta-blocker, both of which were prescribed by a doctor for what were by many accounts legitimate health issues.

And Singh’s case, well that chapter is still pending in the New York Supreme Court, but the essential element of the Fijian’s violation was based on his admitted use of deer-antler spray, which contained a compound called IGF-1. Although IGF-1 is a banned substance, the World Anti-Doping Agency has ruled that the use of deer-antler spray is not a violation if an athlete doesn’t fail a drug test. Singh never failed a test.

The Tour’s anti-doping history is littered with cases that could have been avoided, cases that should have been avoided. Despite the circuit’s best educational efforts, it’s been these relatively innocent violations that have defined the program.

In retrospect, Hensby knows he should have taken the test. He said he had nothing to hide, but anger got the best of him.

“To be honest, it would have been hard, the way I was feeling that day, I know I’m a hothead at times, but I would have probably stayed [had he known the consequences],” he admitted. “You’ve got to understand that if you have too much water you can’t get a test either and then you have to stay even longer.”

Hensby said before his run in with the anti-doping small print he wasn’t sure what his professional future would be, but his suspension has given him perspective and a unique motivation.

“I was talking to my wife last night, I have a little boy, it’s been a long month,” said Hensby after dropping his son, Caden, off at school. “I think I have a little more drive now and when I come back. I wasn’t going to play anymore, but when I do come back I am going to be motivated.”

He’s also going to be informed when it comes to the Tour’s anti-doping policy, and he hopes his follow professionals take a similar interest.