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This time, Leishman slams the door shut

By Will GraySeptember 18, 2017, 12:22 am

LAKE FOREST, Ill. – With the tournament reaching its final stage, the leaderboards surrounding each green reflected a familiar scenario. Marc Leishman had amassed a two-shot lead after more than 60 holes of golf, and the trophy was within reach.

It’s the same script that played out two weeks ago at TPC Boston, where Leishman fumbled away his lead down the stretch by shooting a back-nine 40. But faced with an opportunity for redemption and with Justin Rose quickly making up ground, the Aussie didn’t blink and instead walked away with a five-shot, wire-to-wire victory at the BMW Championship.

It’s a win that vaults Leishman to fourth in the FedExCup standings, and up to 13th in the newest world rankings. It’s also another stark reminder that his time as one of the more underrated players on the PGA Tour may quickly be coming to an end.

“Backing up that back nine last week at the Dell (Technologies Championship), when the pressure got put on by Rosie, I reacted with birdies,” Leishman said. “Just tried to keep doing my own thing and give myself chances, and managed to roll a couple in there at the end which was nice walking up the last there with a bit of a buffer.”

Leishman started the day with a five-shot lead, one that he revealed after the fact was large enough that he should win – but not large enough to put him out of reach. After Rose birdied No. 14, Leishman's advantage was trimmed to the same two-shot edge he was unable to maintain two weeks ago when Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth raced past him.

This time around, he answered the call with a birdie on No. 15 – and another on the next hole to remove any doubt about the outcome.


BMW Championship: Articles, video and photos


It’s the second win this year for the 33-year-old, who also captured the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He heads into the Tour Championship as perhaps the hottest player on Tour, and he’ll be a key cog for the International Team at the Presidents Cup later this month.

While it’s a somewhat surprising ascent for a player who won just one event in his first eight seasons on Tour, his peers have long realized Leishman’s potential.

“I think he’s a great player, especially I grew up playing amateur golf against him,” said Jason Day. “I don’t think he may have projected himself standing where he is today when we were sitting on a tee back when I was 16 and he was 18 or so. He’s done a tremendous job, obviously, getting to where he is. I think there’s still a ton left in the tank for him.”

To see Leishman sandwiched between two trophies on the 18th green and surrounded by his three children, including daughter Eva born this summer, is a far cry from the depths of 2015 when his wife, Audrey, nearly died from complications tied to sepsis.

But with his wife once again healthy and a new arrival to celebrate, Leishman has found harmony both on and off the course this year – even if it has caused little change to his largely unflappable demeanor.

“He’s a very humble guy, and so I think sometimes people maybe underestimate his drive. But he’s always had that drive,” Audrey said. “He’s always given it 110 percent, but he just has been content to lie low and he doesn’t really feel the need to have all the media stuff. So I think because of that, him flying under the radar, people sort of assume that.”

Leishman is candid about the fact that, while many of his peers set ambitious goals and strive to be the best player in the world, that has never been his aim. He enjoys having a work-life balance, and his off weeks are spent with his growing family and usually far away from the practice range.

“I feel like, with the life I live, that’s probably very hard for me to do that,” he said. “I feel like you have to dedicate your whole life – not your whole life, but you have to work very, very hard. I’m happy doing what I’m doing now with the life I’ve got and the way I’m playing and all that, to be happy with where I am.”

Armed with a wire-to-wire victory against an elite field, Leishman now has plenty to be happy with heading into the season’s final event. His goals may be modest and his tone understated, but make no mistake about it: Leishman deserves every inch of real estate he now occupies among the game’s elite.

Golf does not often afford mulligans, especially at the highest level. But granted another chance to close out a lead coming down the stretch, Leishman this time around left no room for doubt.

“It’s just nice to put four good rounds on the board and in a really big event,” he said. “Backing up what happened last week was probably the most satisfying thing for me.”

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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