Garcia Becoming Next Mickelson

By Associated PressAugust 12, 2008, 4:00 pm
2008 US Open 81x90BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. ' Sergio Garcia packed his bags and headed for the parking lot at Oakland Hills, leaving behind another season without a major and facing eight long months until his next opportunity.
The question is how much baggage he carried between the ears.
The PGA Championship was his third runner-up at a major, and it doesnt take much effort to find one moment that could have made all the difference, either a shot by Garcia or by the players who beat him.
Padraig Harrington took only 11 putts on the back nine, including three on the last three holes that were a combined 40 feet. Garcia chunked a chip on the par-5 12th that eliminated an easy birdie when he was leading by two. He hit 6-iron into the water on the 16th with a one-shot lead. And he missed a 4-foot birdie putt on the 17th that gave Harrington his first lead all day.
Equally painful are memories of a 10-foot par putt last year on the 18th hole at Carnoustie to win the British Open. Garcia missed it by a fraction of an inch, and Harrington went on to win the four-hole playoff.
Even as far back as 1999 at Medinah, when he was a 19-year-old rookie trying to chase down Tiger Woods at the PGA, Garcia must wonder how Woods was able to make an 8-foot par putt at No. 17 on a green so crisp it was like putting on dirt.
Thats what major champions do.
And thats why Garcia isnt a major champion ' at least not yet.
The good news for Garcia is that he has gone only 38 majors without winning one. If its any consolation, Tom Kite was 0-for-63 when he won the 1992 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach and passed on the best to never win a major burden to someone else. And while this wont fall into the consolation category, either, Garcia is the youngest player at 28 to be considered the best player without a major.
Phil Mickelson was 33 when he ended his 0-for-42 record in the majors with an 18-foot birdie putt to win the 2004 Masters. Fred Couples was 32 when he won his only major at the 1992 Masters, Davis Love III was 33 when he finally won a major at the 1997 PGA Championship and Corey Pavin was 36 when he shed the label as best without a major in the 1995 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills.
A major is coming for Garcia. He is simply too talented.
But he also has more to overcome.
Unlike the others who labored longer than they would have liked to win a major, Garcia is saddled with more scar tissue. How he responds to such negative reinforcement will determine how soon ' and how many ' he wins.
Not since Mickelson has a player with so much skill played in so many majors without winning, so they make for natural comparisons.
The positives:
  • Garcia already has played in the final pairing three times in a major, the same number as Mickelson before Lefty won his first.
  • Sunday was the third runner-up for Garcia in a major. Mickelson had three runner-ups before winning his first major.
    The negatives:
  • Mickelson was 29 when he suffered his first major heartache in the 99 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2, where Payne Stewart beat him with a 15-foot par on the final hole. He was 31 when David Toms beat him with a par on the last hole of 01 PGA Championship.
    Garcia is 28 and already has gone through that twice.
  • Mickelson was always gracious in defeat. The putts that Payne made on 16 and 18 showed what a great champion he is, Mickelson said in 1999 after Stewart rallied to beat him at Pinehurst.
    Garcia still acts as though the world is out to get him.
    The opening question Sunday evening was whether Garcia, three shots clear of Harrington when they made the turn, was thinking that he was finally going to capture his first major.
    Next question, please, Garcia bristled. Lets keep this as positive as we can, please.
    He later suggested that some players ' namely, Harrington ' are more fortunate.
    They get in contention in a major and manage to get things going their way, either because they play well or because somebody else comes back, he said. And unfortunately, it hasnt happened to me. I feel like I played well enough to win probably more than two majors throughout my career.
    One thing Harrington had in his favor was experience and the ability to make putts under pressure.
    No one imagined anyone capable of going 66-66 over the final two rounds at Oakland Hills, although Saturdays rain delay made the greens soft enough to allow such scoring.
    Even so, it was the most clutch putting performance over the final three holes of a major since Stewart at Pinehurst No. 2.
    Stewart was one shot behind on the 16th hole when he made a 25-foot par putt down the hill. Then came the par-3 17th, where he knocked it to 3 feet for birdie to take the lead. And after finding trouble off the tee and choosing to lay up on the 18th, he hit wedge to 15 feet and made the par putt for a dramatic victory.
    His opponent that day was Mickelson, who overcame that to go three straight years winning a major.
    Theres hope for Garcia.
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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 “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.