news 6 days ago

Stenson's Players victory ends with wrong kind of surprise

The Associated Press — By DOUG FERGUSON - AP Golf Writer

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Henrik Stenson won The Players Championship 10 years ago, at the time the biggest victory of his career.

Equally memorable was the trip home to Orlando.

"A speeding ticket," Stenson said.

Stenson shot a bogey-free 66 in the final round to make up a five-shot deficit and win by four shots. What followed was the trophy presentation, interviews with the media and then a 2 1/2-hour drive home. Apparently, he was trying to get there even quicker.

He was in his own car, not a courtesy car with The Players Championship logo on the door. But that's not what drew the attention of the law.

"I think 90 (mph) on I-95 is enough to get attention," Stenson said. "It was a rather quick car."

The officer asked him where he was coming from and went back-and-forth to the patrol car before returning. Turns out the officer had a brother who was watching the final round.

Good news for Stenson? Not quite.

"He came back finally after like five, 10 minutes and he says, 'Well, I spoke to my brother. He watched the golf. But I've been handing out some other tickets, so I've got to hand one out to you,'" Stenson said. "And I thought, 'I can live with that.' That Sunday made up for a speeding ticket."

Stenson didn't reveal how much the ticket cost him. His payoff that Sunday was $1.71 million.

ISLAND GREEN PROPOSAL

Sergio Garcia celebrated his greatest moment at The Players Championship on the 17th green with a wedge to 4 feet that sealed his playoff victory in 2008. He took part in another big moment with a couple he only recently met.

Garcia met Ricardo Fonseca and his girlfriend, Emma Baxley, during a practice round Wednesday. He invited Baxley inside the ropes, which gave Fonseca time to grab flowers and meet them as they walked off the green.

It was clear what was going on, and Garcia gave her a hug before Fonseca handed her the flowers, dropped to his knee and showed her the engagement ring.

After slipping it on her finger, the standard bearer showed a sign with the words, "She said yes."

NICKLAUS CAMPAIGN

Jack Nicklaus, the only three-time winner of The Players Championship, visited the TPC Sawgrass with a lot of friends in yellow shirts. He is helping to lead the "Play Yellow for Children's Hospitals" campaign with the Children's Miracle Network, which wants to raise $100 million in five years for

"More than 10 million children visit Children's Miracle Network hospitals each year, and every year with 'Play Yellow,' together we can help save and improve the lives of so many more children," Nicklaus said.

The PGA Tour, The Players Championship and the Memorial are part of the program, along with equipment companies and other corporate partners, who through their own charitable proceeds or involving customers are pledging to help reach the fund's goal.

Behind the yellow is the shirt Nicklaus used to wear.

Craig Smith was the son of the minister of Jack and Barbara Nicklaus in Columbus, Ohio, who was diagnosed at age 11 of Ewing's sarcoma. Nicklaus called him and they began a relationship. The boy once told Nicklaus he won a tournament because Craig was wearing his lucky yellow shirt. That's when Nicklaus began wearing yellow on Sunday.

He died in 1971.

"And then 15 years later we're in Augusta, Georgia, Sunday morning of the last round of the Masters, and Jack's kind of rummaging around in his suitcase looking for a shirt to wear," Barbara Nicklaus said. "And he picks up a yellow shirt and he just holds it and he looks at me, and I just look at him and I said, 'That's it. That's perfect. You have to wear that shirt today for Craig in his honor and in his memory."

Nicklaus shot 65 and won his sixth Masters in 1986.

"I guess you can understand why this is such a personal campaign and Jack and I are so passionate about the 'Play Yellow' campaign," she said.

CADDIE CONTEST

Vijay Singh has never won The Players Championship. At least his caddie can claim a victory.

Danny Shal won the annual caddie contest on the par-3 17th by hitting a shot to 4 feet, 3 inches on the island green. That beat out a pair of shots by Jose Campra (caddie for Scott Piercy) and Michael Greller (caddie for Jordan Spieth."

The competition honors the memory of Bruce Edwards, the longtime caddie of Tom Watson who died in 2004 of Lou Gehrig's disease. The players put contributions into a pot. Shal won the money in the pot, a personalized money clip and he gets a designated parking spot in the players' parking lot this week.

Of the 82 caddies who took part, 31 balls wound up in the water.