Garcia Back Seeking Elusive Major

By Associated PressAugust 16, 2006, 4:00 pm
2006 PGA ChampionshipMEDINAH, Ill ' Back at the site of one of his greatest moments, Sergio Garcia couldnt resist the urge: He just had to visit that tree.
 
So earlier this week, he walked over to the oak on the 16th hole at Medinah Country Club and found the spot where he unleashed that memorable shot seven years ago.
 
I remember three or four weeks ago, before coming in here, they were telling me that the tree was struggling a little bit and theyve had to overseed that little spot because everybodys been hitting from it, Garcia said Wednesday. It definitely looks a little different than it was seven years ago.
 
One thing that hasnt changed: Garcia is still seeking his first victory at a major, and he hopes to fix that this week when the PGA Championship returns to Medinah.
 
If I think about it realistically, I think its a good career so far, the 26-year-old said.
 
Sergio Garcia
Sergio Garcia preps for the PGA Championship under the watchful eye of his father Victor.
Back in 99, Garcia was a 19-year-old phenom playing in only his second major as a pro. He led after the first day, was two back going into the last round, but fell behind by as many as five shots before making his charge.
 
Down two strokes to Tiger Woods, Garcias chances seemed dead when his tee shot on 16 sailed to the right and settled at a knot of tree roots. Then came the signature shot of the tournament, and a reaction that showed his age.
 
He grabbed a 6-iron and ripped a sweeping fade with his eyes shut. As the ball sailed toward the green, Garcia broke into a full sprint and did a scissors kick at the top of the hill, straining to see where the ball landed.
 
It was definitely one of the best shots of my career, he said. It was just short of what I wanted, but it was definitely one of the best shots Ive hit.
 
Woods had just approached the 16th tee and wasnt really paying attention until he saw Garcias mad dash.
 
At that point, Woods figured the shot was either really good or really bad. Then, he heard the crowd roar and knew the pressure was still on.
 
Garcia saved par. Woods hung on to win by one stroke, after going 10 majors without a victory.
 
The anticipated rivalry between the two? Its still anticipated.
 
In the seven years since, Woods has won nine majors to bring his total to 11. Garcia is 0-for-29, with 11 top-10 finishes as a pro.
 
Hes come close on several occasions, and its just a matter of doing the right things at the right time, Woods said. But hes put himself there. You put yourself there enough times, youre going to get it done. Probably, theres no better example of that than Phil (Mickelson) right now.
 
Mickelson was about two months shy of his 34th birthday when he broke through and won the 2004 Masters. He took last years PGA Championship and won again at Augusta this year.
 
Its nice that I was able to pass the mantle to somebody, Mickelson joked. Im sorry he has to take it over.
 
Garcia has six victories on the PGA TOUR and has led Europe to two Ryder Cup wins despite a suspect putting game. But if greatness is defined by majors, Garcia still is trying to find it. The path winds by Woods.
 
The two were matched in the final round of this years British Open at Hoylake, with Woods holding a one-stroke lead. Garcia dropped out of contention with bogeys on four of the first nine holes, and finished tied for fifth. Woods won the title.
 
They were paired for the last round of the 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black, though Garcia was four strokes behind. Woods won that one, too.
 
Youre only thinking about one guy that has done something unbelievable, very difficult to repeat, and you expect everybody else to do the same, Garcia said. Its not easy to go out there and win a major when youre young and even when youre in your 20s. You know, Tiger has been able to do that plenty of times, and you expect everybody else to do the same.
 
Woods feels fortunate that he won his first major early on and doused those questions. Now, Garcia is back at Medinah, back at the site of that great moment.
 
He stepped back in time this week. Now, hell try to take a big leap forward.
 
Its just a matter of keep putting yourself in that position, keep learning about it, keep going through the emotions (that) go around at that certain time, and feel more and more comfortable when youre in that position, Garcia said.
 
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  • Def. champ Fitzpatrick grabs lead at Euro finale

    By Associated Press, Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 1:50 pm

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Defending champion Matthew Fitzpatrick shot a second straight 5-under-par 67 to secure a one-stroke lead halfway through the European Tour's season-ending Tour Championship on Friday.

    At 10 under after two rounds on the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estate, Fitzpatrick leads English compatriot Tyrrell Hatton, whom he beat by one shot to win the title last year.

    Hatton moved into contention with a brilliant 9-under 63, a round soured only by a closing bogey on the par-5 18th hole.

    In the Race to Dubai, main protagonists Tommy Fleetwood and Justin Rose experienced contrasting emotions to their opening rounds. Fleetwood boosted his chances by rising into a tie for 11th at 6 under after a 65. Rose endured a three-putt bogey on the 18th to finish with a 70, and dropped on the leaderboard so he's just two shots ahead of Fleetwood.

    Masters champion Sergio Garcia, the only other player with a chance to win the Order of Merit, stayed in contention by adding a 69 to his opening 70 to be one shot behind Fleetwood.


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    Fleetwood needs to equal or better Rose's finishing position to claim the title. If Rose doesn't finish in the top five and Garcia doesn't win, Fleetwood will have done enough.

    Fitzpatrick made two bogeys but eagled the 14th, and five birdies contributed to his 67.

    Overnight leader Patrick Reed is now three back following an even-par 72. Reed is in the field thanks to a European Tour regulation that allows the Presidents Cup to count as an official event, thus allowing him to meet his quota of tournaments played.

    Fitzpatrick was helped immensely also by the 18th, where Hatton, Rose, and Reed all made bogeys. Fitzpatrick birdied the hole for a second straight day with a 25-foot putt.

    ''I said to my caddie, we were putting really, really well all week so far,'' Fitzpatrick said.

    ''The thing is, you get so many fast putts around here, even uphill into the green, they are still running at 12, 13 (on the stimpmeter) even. You've just got to be really sort of careful. Every putt is effectively a two-putt. You've got to control your pace well and limit your mistakes, because it's easy to three-putt out here.''

    Rose, hoping to win a third straight tournament after triumphs in China and Turkey, was disappointed with his finish despite playing solid golf from tee to green.

    ''To make six (on 18) just ends the day on the wrong note, but other than that, I played really well on the back nine,'' Rose said.

    ''I was aware of the scores and who had done what today. But listen, halfway stage, I'd probably have signed up for that if somebody said on Wednesday you would be in this position after two rounds. It's a position you can build on the weekend.''

    Fleetwood resurrected his chances of winning the Order of Merit with a 65, eight shots better than his opening round. His only bogey of the day came on the seventh after an errant drive, but that was the only mistake on a solid day that saw him make eight birdies.

    Fleetwood spent hours on the putting green after his first round.

    ''I needed a low one today for (a tournament win and the Order of Merit),'' he said. ''Luckily, I got a good score.''

    Closing eagle gives Kirk 1-shot lead in RSM

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 12:16 am

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - Chris Kirk holed an 18-foot putt for eagle on his final hole for a 9-under 63 and a one-shot lead Thursday in the RSM Classic.

    Kirk played the par 5s on the Plantation Course at Sea Island Golf Club in 5 under.

    ''I kind of hit my putter on the fringe a little bit and I wasn't sure it was going to get there, but that was just kind of the day that it was,'' Kirk said. ''Even when I thought it wasn't quite going to work out, it still went in the middle of the hole.''

    The seven lowest scores of the opening round came on the Plantation Course during a picturesque afternoon on the Golden Isles. Sporting a University of Georgia hat Thursday, Kirk won at Sea Island four years ago for the second of his four PGA Tour victories.

    ''It's a big Georgia territory out here on St. Simons,'' Kirk said. ''Hopefully, my hat will bring me some luck the rest of the week.''

    The tournament is the final PGA Tour event of the calendar year, and Kirk is sorting out equipment changes.

    ''I'm still trying to get it all worked out and figure out what I want to do going forward,'' Kirk said. ''But keep shooting 9 under, so I won't have to worry about it too much.'

    Joel Dahmen had a 64.


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    ''I think it played a little easier today,'' Dahmen said. ''The wind was down, greens were a little softer over here on the Plantation side. But just kept the ball in front of me and made a bunch of 8- to 10-footers.

    ''I've been rolling it pretty good,'' Swafford said. ''Took some time off, which was nice, after China. I was kind of frustrated with the golf a little bit. Took a little time off and got back into it. Something just kind of started clicking, but knew I don't have to be crazy aggressive and just give myself a chance.''

    Sea Island resident Hudson Swafford was at 65 at the Plantation along with Jason Kokrak and Brian Gay.

    ''I feel like I've been rolling it pretty good,'' Swafford said. ''Took some time off, which was nice, after China. I was kind of frustrated with the golf a little bit. Took a little time off and got back into it. Something just kind of started clicking, but knew I don't have to be crazy aggressive and just give myself a chance.''

    He played alongside fellow former Georgia players Bubba Watson and Brian Harman.

    ''We are right in the heart of Dawgs' territory, mine and Harman's backyard, so it's kind of nice,'' Swafford said.

    Though, his caddie wore an Auburn shirt.

    ''We don't need to talk about that,'' said Swafford, not needing to be reminded that Auburn beat Georgia in football last week.

    Nick Watney and Brice Garnett each had a 5-under 65 on the Seaside Course, which will be used for the final two rounds.

    Brandt Snedeker opened with a 67 in his first return from a sternum injury that sidelined him since the Travelers in June.

    Harman shot 69, and Watson had a 71.

    Co-leader Smith credits Foley's influence

    By Randall MellNovember 16, 2017, 11:33 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sarah Jane Smith is making the most of the devoted efforts of Sean Foley this week.

    Foley’s prize pupil, Justin Rose, is in the hunt at the World Tour Championship in the United Arab Emirates, looking to win the European Tour’s Race to Dubai, but Foley isn’t there with him.

    Foley promised to help Smith this week, and he’s living up to the pledge, making the trip to Naples.

    “At 33, Sarah is in her prime,” Foley told GolfChannel.com. “She is going to hold a trophy at some point. She is too skilled not to win.”

    Foley's extra attention is paying off for Smith.


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    With a 6-under-par 66, Smith moved into early contention to make her first LPGA title memorable at the CME Group Tour Championship. She’s tied for the first-round lead with Taiwan rookie Peiyun Chien.

    “I just seem to play my best with him,” Smith said.

    Foley, the former coach to Tiger Woods, was No. 10 in Golf Digest’s Top 100 teacher rankings released this fall.

    Foley sees a lot coming together in Smith’s game. She is a 12-year veteran building some momentum. She tied for third at the Women’s Australian Open earlier this year and is coming off three consecutive top-15 finishes in Asia. She is sixth on tour in birdies this season. 

    “As a coach, you try to get a player to see something in themselves that is already there,” Foley said.

    Rose, by the way, opened with a 6-under-par 66 in Dubai and is one shot off the lead.

    Seeking awards sweep, Park 1 off lead

    By Randall MellNovember 16, 2017, 11:03 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park made a strong start in her bid to make LPGA history with an epic sweep of the year’s major awards.

    Park opened the CME Group Tour Championship Thursday with a 5-under-par 67, moving her a shot off the lead.

    Park is looking to join Nancy Lopez as the only players to win the Rolex Player of the Year and Rolex Rookie of the Year awards in the same season. Lopez did it in 1978. Park has already clinched the Rookie of the Year Award.

    Park, 24, can also walk away with the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Race to the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot.


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    Nobody has ever swept all those awards.

    There’s even more for Park to claim. She can also take back the Rolex world No. 1 ranking. She’s No. 2, just two hundredths of a point behind Shanshan Feng.

    “I think the course suits my game really well,” Park said through a translator. “I think I can play well in the next rounds.”

    Park played the course just once before Thursday’s start, in Wednesday’s pro-am.

    The reigning U.S. Women’s Open champion, Park won twice this year. She also won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open this summer.