Garcia Hopes Putting Leads to Big Year

By Associated PressJanuary 5, 2006, 5:00 pm
04 Mercedes ChampionshipsKAPALUA, Hawaii -- Sergio Garcia stuck two white tees into the practice green at Kapalua and started his drill, one stroke after another with the putter sliding between the two pegs.
 
Garcia noticed watching videotape that when the pressure was on, he rarely hit the putts squarely on the blade. That might explain his frustration over 2005, when he felt as though he hit the ball well enough to win just about every week, yet had only one trophy'the Booz Allen Classic'to show for it.
 
One win was the least I could get the way I played last year, he said.
 
Sergio Garcia
Segio Garcia ranked 196th on the PGA Tour in putting in 2005.
The short game is the only thing stopping him from a big year.
 
Garcia hopes to change that starting Thursday, when he joins 27 others in a winners-only field at the Mercedes Championships that officially starts the PGA Tour season. Its the first of 48 events on the PGA Tour schedule.
 
Hes one of only three players from the top 10 in the world ranking at Kapalua, largely because Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Retief Goosen decided to stay home and wait a few weeks before making their 06 debut.
 
And the 25-year-old Spaniard certainly has the experience to win on the Plantation Course, having won four years ago by making a 10-foot birdie putt in a playoff to beat David Toms.
 
That image of Garcia rolling a putt that disappears into the cup seems like a rarity now.
 
He hit the ball so well in 2005 that he led the tour in greens hit in regulation at 71.8 percent. Length has never been a problem, and Garcia averaged more than 300 yards to rank 10th.
 
But the statistic that stands out is putting -- 196th out of 202 players.
 
Garcia is sensitive when talking about the flat stick, because he realizes how much it cost him last year. Ask him about what needs to improve in his game, and he broadly mentions his short game. But he later said that his chipping is vastly improved, and no longer a problem.
 
The putting, he said, is the one that has been, you know, giving me a headache.
 
A putting tip from Adam Scott carried him to victory at Congressional the week before the U.S. Open, but nothing is more glaring than his collapse at the Wachovia Championship, where Garcia tied a PGA Tour record by blowing a six-shot lead in the final round. The only other player to do that was Greg Norman at the 1996 Masters.
 
Garcia started that round with a three-putt, missing his par from 30 inches. He was the first player to drop out of a three-man playoff when he three-putted the first extra hole.
 
Thats where the tape comes in.
 
Garcia said it was made by a friend at Sky Sports in Britain, and it showed that he struck his putts slightly off-center in big moments. Thats when he went to the two tees, for instant feedback.
 
As soon as you clip of the tees, you know youve done it wrong, he said. I feel like Im finally getting over it. My strike is better, Im hitting the ball more consistently in the middle of the club face. Ive just got to go out there and by seeing these good putts, believe Im going to make them.
 
Stuart Appleby is the two-time defending champion at Kapalua, and he certainly had no trouble on the greens. The putting surfaces have been redone with a strain of grass that allows it to grow taller so it can be cut shorter, leaving greens that have been smoother.
 
Applebys only victory last year came at Kapalua. He rushed home to Australia where his American-born wife gave birth to a daughter, Ella.
 
A victory would allow Appleby to join Gene Littler (1955-57) as the only players to win this tournament three straight times. It was called the Tournament of Championship when Littler won three straight in Las Vegas.
 
I know what I have to do, Appleby said. I know how to play, I know what sort of golf is required to win here. Having Phil and Tiger not here, Retief, is a good thing for me. Maybe theyre a little scared.
 
Garcia is scared of no one. He simply needs to make putts.
 
Despite only one victory last year, he would hardly call 2005 a failure. He had eight finishes in the top 10, gave himself fleeting hope at the U.S. Open, a tie for fifth at the British Open.
 
And hes back at Kapalua, one of only eight players who returned from last years winners-only field.
 
Its more frustrating to play badly, like I did in 2003 when I was going through the swing changes, or maybe 2000, said Garcia, alluding to the only two seasons he failed to win since joining the PGA Tour. That to me is more frustrating than playing really well and maybe only winning once or twice, because at least you see youre giving yourself chances.
 
The most horrendous thing is seeing that you dont have a chance.
 
Garcia is expecting to have several opportunities this year. The key is to do something with them.
 
If I can manage the short game, he said, then it could be a huge year.
 
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  • Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

    Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

    In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

    "It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’


    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


    Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

    “Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

    “That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

    Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

    The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

    Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

    Lexi Thompson:

    Baking time!!

    A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

    David Feherty:

    Jack Nicklaus:

    GC Tiger Tracker:

    Steve Stricker:

    Golf Channel:

    Frank Nobilo:

    Ian Poulter:

    Tyrone Van Aswegen:

    Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

    By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

    Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.

    Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

    By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

    Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

    Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

    Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

    “Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

    Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

    “When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

    Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

    “Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

    In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

    “Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

    Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

    “The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

    Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

    “Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.

    Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

    Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

    LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

    Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

    Christina Kim:

    LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

    LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

    LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

    LPGA pro Jennie Lee: