Garcia Needs to Learn How to Lose - Graciously

By Associated PressJuly 24, 2007, 4:00 pm
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland -- Sergio Garcia now has played in the final group of a major championship three times, the same number as Phil Mickelson before he finally broke through at the 2004 Masters.
 
Garcia is only 27 and blessed with enormous talent, and it would be foolish to think he will never win a major.
 
But that's not his problem.
 
He first has to learn how to lose.
 
It might help to listen to Gary Player talk about his favorite subject this side of steroids. Player rarely gets through a dinner speech without taking a crack at longtime friend Jack Nicklaus, referring to him as golf's greatest champion -- and greatest loser.
 
Part of that is the record times Nicklaus finished second in the majors, and part of that is the graciousness Nicklaus invariably showed when someone beat him, whether it was Tom Watson at Turnberry or Lee Trevino at Merion.
 
That is sadly lacking with Garcia.
 
As much courage as Padraig Harrington showed Sunday at Carnoustie in winning the British Open, Garcia showed as little class when he pointed the finger in every direction but himself.
 
'I should write a book on how to not miss a shot in the playoff and shoot 1 over,' Garcia said.
 
Guess that means he was trying to hit that approach in the bunker on the first playoff hole, leading to a bogey that put him two shots behind when Harrington made birdie from 8 feet. And if he didn't miss a shot, why was he screaming so much at his golf ball?
 
Look at all his bad luck.
 
There was the ball that struck the base of the pin on the 16th hole in the playoff and caromed 18 feet away. No telling how far the ball would have gone by the hole had it missed the pin. He had to wait too long in the 18th fairway as the bunkers were raked, a delay that began when Harrington twice hit into the Barry Burn.
 
There were conspiracies everywhere, and this being a links course, no shortage of grassy knolls.
 
'I guess it's not news in my life,' Garcia said, who surely sees himself as the most cursed man who ever played the game.
 
No, this is nothing new.
 
Garcia has been pouting since he was a teenager, and his rant at Carnoustie was only the latest in a growing list.
 
-- 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black.
 
Tiger Woods played in the morning and shot 68, the only round under par among early starters. The cold rain got worse, and Garcia felt there was too much water on the greens and in the fairway late in the day. He shot 74 and fumed at the USGA for not stopping play.
 
'If Tiger Woods would have been out there, it would been called,' Garcia said. 'It wasn't easy this morning, but it was almost impossible this afternoon. It's tough to beat a buy when ... he gets breaks and makes putt.'
 
-- 2001 Greg Norman Holden International in Sydney.
 
Garcia had a two-shot lead when his opening tee shot in the third round stopped next to a pine cone, and he was entitled to relief because a billboard was in his line of sight. But the drop was incorrect, and European Tour chief referee John Paramor had no choice but to assess a two-shot penalty.
 
'Hopefully, without John Paramor's rules, I'll be able to win,' Garcia said.
 
He didn't win because Aaron Baddeley made a 20-foot birdie putt in the playoff, after Garcia missed from inside that distance on the final two holes of regulation. Surely, that had nothing to do with the outcome.
 
-- 2004 Masters.
 
Garcia shot a 31 on the back nine for a 66 that moved him up to fourth place, still his best finish at Augusta National. He used his occasion to rant about how the press only pays attention to him when he's doing well.
 
Go figure.
 
'When we're playing well, we're the best, and even when we're playing well and things are not going our way, we can be shocking,' he said. 'So it's nice to see how fair you guys are.'
 
-- 2007 British Open at Carnoustie.
 
Much ground has been covered already, but the most staggering statement from Garcia was how the golfing gods were out to get him, and him alone. 'I'm playing against a lot of guys out there, more than the field,' he said.
 
Was he watching in 1999 when Jean Van de Velde's second shot to the 18th ricocheted off a tiny railing on the grandstand and back across Barry Burn? Wasn't he at Torrey Pines in 2005 when Charles Howell III hit a shot that landed in the cup for eagle, only to bounce out and into the water? That turned eagle into bogey, and Howell finished three shots behind.
 
'Crazy game,' Howell said that day, leaving out any mention of conspiracy.
 
-- 2007 CA Championship at Doral.
 
Garcia was so disgusted by a three-putt in the third round that when he retrieved his ball, he spit into the cup a gob of saliva easily picked up by television. Beyond disgusting, it was rude to the guys playing in the groups behind him.
 
'Don't worry. It did go in the middle (of the cup) and wasn't going to affect anyone else,' Garcia told NBC Sports.
 
PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem was in Miami that week, and he was either looking the other way or not paying attention when he suggested the spitting incident was a 'one-off' for Garcia. This has been going on since Garcia was 19, and he threw a shoe that nearly hit a rules official at the World Match Play Championship.
 
Garcia would do well to try to emulate Nicklaus, described by his friend as the greatest champion and greatest loser.
 
Because right now, Garcia is neither.
 
Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

You don’t believe it, though.

She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

“In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.


CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

“I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

“She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

“She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

“Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

“It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

“No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

“I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”


RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

“He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.


RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''