Spieth (74) resilient, maintains lead at halfway point

By Ryan LavnerApril 9, 2016, 12:35 am

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Marching toward the scoring building, flanked by a pair of security guards, Jordan Spieth’s face was bright red. It was from windburn, presumably, and not the five hours and 35 minutes of frustration.

The four-putt.

The botched chip that rolled down the slope.

The rushed shots around Amen Corner while on the clock.

“That was tough,” Spieth on Friday night, but even after his worst-ever score at Augusta National, a 2-over 74, even after the four-putt and the botched chip and the rushed shots, he still will take a one-shot lead into the weekend at the 80th Masters.

Through two days here, it’s painfully obvious that this is nothing like last year’s tournament. Spieth won’t blow away the field. He won’t pour in every 25-footer. And no, most importantly, the coronation won’t begin on the front nine Saturday.  

Spieth still holds the lead for the sixth consecutive round at the Masters, but never has he been more under duress at a place that, for the better part of three years, has looked like his personal playground.

Five shots clear at one point Friday, Spieth is now, at 4-under 140, only one stroke ahead of Rory McIlroy. Eleven players are within four shots.

With the wind gusting to 25 mph through the Georgia pines, Spieth, flawless through 22 holes, made four bogeys and a double. He needed a 14-footer for par on the final green just to preserve a one-shot cushion heading into Saturday’s third round, when conditions are expected to be even more difficult.

“That’s going to be the biggest advantage for us,” he said, “is to go out tomorrow, pretend it’s a new golf tournament and try and beat the field from here on in.”

Masters Tournament: Day 2 Tracker

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Midway through the second round, you wouldn’t have blamed the tournament committee for trying to relocate Spieth’s size-42 green jacket. After a “dream start,” with birdies on Nos. 1 and 3, he was five shots ahead of the field.

But Spieth wasn’t immune from the trouble, not on this day. The wind switched on his second shot into the par-4 fifth – it was supposed to be downwind, off the right – and his ball came up well short of the flag. He four-putted from 47 feet, missing three times inside 7 feet. Short of the ninth green, he made another mistake with his chip, walking off with bogey.

By then, the wind was howling, requiring his full attention on every 2-footer, and his patience was being tested, too, with good shots turning out poorly and bad shots getting severely punished.

“It was very tough to stay cool,” he said. “It’s a lot easier said than done. You could say, ‘Looked like you got emotional out there.’ But I mean, you guys try it. That was a hard golf course.”

Spieth’s frustration boiled over on the 11th hole, when he was told that his group was on the clock after falling out of position. After flaring his approach out to the right, leaving a 70-foot birdie putt across the green, Spieth complained to Greller: “I’m being freakin’ timed. I want to take my time, wait out the gust. But we can’t.”

Spieth said later that his annoyance stemmed from not receiving a warning earlier that his group was out of position.

“Have fun getting put on the clock at 11 of Augusta,” he said, “and then play 11 and 12 rushing with gusting winds. It’s not fun. It’s not fun at all.”

Spieth held it together through Amen Corner, and he even pushed his lead back to three shots with a two-putt birdie on 15. He immediately followed that with a three-putt on 16 and another dropped shot on 17.

When Spieth flailed his approach into the greenside bunker on the finishing hole, leaving a devilish shot with little green to work with, he appeared on the verge of dropping into a share of the halfway lead with McIlroy. Then Spieth, as he’s already done so many times here, canned the par putt to stay one shot ahead, tying Arnold Palmer as the only players to hold at least a share of the lead for six consecutive rounds at Augusta.

“It makes me smile walking off the green,” he said of the par save, “versus wondering how you just went bogey-bogey-bogey. That’s definitely a difference-maker there.”

And so now we’re left with a Masters Tournament that has morphed into a U.S. Open - unforgiving and unpredictable.

A year ago, Spieth won majors with both birdies (Augusta) and pars (Chambers Bay), and he says that his skill set lends itself better to brutish tests than birdie barrages. In the scoring building afterward, he compared the feeling of last year’s Masters, when he’d breezed to a four-shot lead at the halfway point, to this year’s edition.

“I like this better,” he said. “I didn’t like the fact that if I were to go out and play a decent round but shoot even par, because stuff doesn’t go in, guys could take the lead. Now, if I strike the ball the way I want to strike it and kind of map my way around the course the way we do so well here, you don’t need to force anything.”

Even if the storyline is Jordan vs. Rory, expect a weekend that is more slugfest than shootout.  

The second-round scoring average was a shade above 75. The best round was 71. Greens that received 4-iron shots early in the afternoon sent wedge shots bounding over the back by the end of the day.

“This has now gone very much to a U.S. Open style of play,” Spieth said, “but with more difficult greens.”

And so another brutal day awaits.

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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.

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Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

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Man of the people

Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

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Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

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Departure from TaylorMade

Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

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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
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Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

Well, this is a one new one.

According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.