Garcia Needs to Learn How to Lose - Graciously
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.
'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.
What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm
Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:
Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft
Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft
Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts
Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts
Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red
Ball: TaylorMade TP5x
Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff
Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.
While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.
Watching Andrew Landry and Jon Rahm in playoff. Walking off tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me ? Talking at all. ?— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.
0 words— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The issue is I don’t want to make you a bit relaxed or comfortable. High pressure, good.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you watch the end of the NFL games yesterday ? Enough said.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
I didn’t say you couldn’t be friends and competitive. But in a playoff, 1 tiny mistake and you lose, and that devastated me. Friends before and after, competitors during play.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you win ? It’s all about surviving the competition to test yourself.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.
Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over
The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.
As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.
Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.
And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.
And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.
McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.
The Ryder Cup topped his list.
Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.
When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.
“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”
McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.
Or similar assertions from TV analysts.
“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”
European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.
And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.
The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.
Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.
And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.
Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.
The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.
The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.
More bulletin board material, too.
Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.
Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions
Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.
The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.
It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.
The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.
“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”
Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.