Garcia ready to act as European leader

By Associated PressSeptember 16, 2008, 4:00 pm
Ryder CupLOUISVILLE, Ky. ' Except for the freckles and playful grin, its a wonder anyone recognizes Sergio Garcia at the Ryder Cup.
 
The Spaniard who cant seem to make a 4-foot putt with a major championship on the line, cant seem to miss from 20 feet when playing for a golf trophy he has to share.
 
Garcia is considered the best player to never win a major. For one week every two years, he is simply the best.
 
There are no excuses at the Ryder Cup, only celebrations.
 
Sergio Garcia
Sergio Garcia has been almost unbeatable in Ryder Cup - outside of singles. (Getty Images)
He brings a lot of passion to this team. When you see Sergio, you see Seve, European captain Nick Faldo said Tuesday, referring to Seve Ballesteros, Garcias countryman and former Ryder Cup star. They love this event. Obviously, match play is different, isnt it? And he gets fired up. Hes great off the golf course. So hes a key member to the team.
 
Garcia has never lost in eight alternate-shot matches, and the only U.S. team to beat him in fourballs was Tiger Woods and Davis Love III. Garcia is 6-1 against Woods and Phil Mickelson in team matches.
 
Even more astounding is a 14-4-2 record in his four Ryder Cup appearances.
 
If you had to pick one guy out as the toughest test, that you would say is the guy to beat, Id have to pick Sergio, Jim Furyk said.
 
And make no mistake ' the Americans would love nothing more than to beat him.
 
Garcia has proven to be the best at hitting pivotal shots, holing clutch putts and staking Europe to big leads. He also has become the best at getting under the Americans skin.
 
The exuberance began in 1999 when he was 19, the youngest player in Ryder Cup history. Garcia spent the week shaking his fists and leaping into the arms of Jesper Parnevik. Then came 2002, when he sprinted down the 18th fairway and mobbed Pierre Fulke in the middle of his match with Love, forcing the Swede to stop and call it a draw.
 
Two years ago, Europe bolted to a 10-6 lead and was headed for another blowout victory. Garcia was 4-0 that week, and the Americans jokingly told Stewart Cink he would be locked out of the room if he didnt beat the Spaniard.
 
No one had to tell me that, Cink said.
 
Cink built a big lead early, then closed him out with two long putts.
 
I think it angered him, Cink said. I heard him muttering. I would have been muttering, too.
 
Maybe its his constant chattering that makes Garcia so annoying. Remember, this is the guy who last time said, Nothing is sweeter than beating the Americans. Perhaps its the fiery celebrations after winning a hole, even if he wasnt the one who sank the putt.
 
Above all, its the fact he keeps winning.
 
Hes a heck of a player, Cink said. He loves the Ryder Cup. He enjoys it so much, going head to head. Does he get under our skin? Only because he wins a lot.
 
Some Americans felt the same way about Ballesteros, the spiritual leader of the European team since his debut in 1979. Even with five majors, Ballesteros bled for the Ryder Cup.
 
Sergio is one of the most passionate players that Europe has ever had, U.S. captain Paul Azinger said. I just feel like he elevates somehow. He putts different. He putts better. Ask him why he makes so many putts.
 
The frightening aspect for the United States is that Garcia is playing better than ever.
 
No, he still doesnt have a major. His latest opportunity ended at Oakland Hills in the PGA Championship when he lost a three-shot lead on the back nine and gave up the lead for good by missing a 4-foot putt on the 17th. In May, he won The Players Championship. His swing has never been more pure, and he keeps convincing himself hes better with the putter than people realize.
 
As for annoying the Americans?
 
Garcia acted as though he didnt understand the question, but the sneaky grin told otherwise.
 
In which way? Because I play well? he said as the room erupted in laughter. Sorry. What can I say? Im trying as hard as everybody else. So I guess Ive just been lucky.
 
This from a guy who complained that Im playing against a lot of guys out there, more than the field after Padraig Harrington beat him in a playoff at Carnoustie in the British Open last year.
 
But that was for him. What makes him such an invaluable Ryder Cup player is that its all about team.
 
Ive always said it, and I say it from the bottom of my heart, Garcia said. I would rather go 0-5 and win the Ryder Cup as a team than go 5-0 and lose it. Its not about me this week. Its about the European team, and coming together, and achieving our goal, and obviously playing well and retaining the cup. Thats all that matters to me.
 
Garcia didnt waste any time mixing it up.
 
Faldo pulled his troops together on the first tee for an impromptu meeting, wanting them to visualize the opening tee shot. Garcia was among the first to chime in, calling it a great start to the week as Europe goes after its fourth consecutive victory.
 
It was the first full day of practice ' after the team photos, of course ' and Garcia spent the day with Ryder Cup rookie Soren Hansen and Lee Westwood, with whom he has teamed to go 4-1-1.
 
The Americans went out in foursomes, with Kenny Perry and J.B. Holmes whipping up their home state crowd, especially on the 352-yard 13th. Most players went to a forward tee with a 268-yard carry to the island green. Holmes, the biggest basher at Valhalla this week, drove onto the green from the back tee.
 
I just cant imagine what Tiger Woods puts up with all the time, and for one week in my life, I feel like him, Perry said. It was awesome. I grinned the whole time. I had a blast out there.
 
Its usually fun during the three days of practice. The matches start Friday, and thats when it typically changes.
 
The Americans have not led after any session on any day since they last won the Ryder Cup in 1999 at Brookline, rallying from a 10-6 deficit. The pivotal singles victory that afternoon was Furyk beating Garcia.
 
And that might be the one area where Garcia is lacking. Out on his own, his lone singles victory was in 2004 against Mickelson. Still, the image of Garcia that day is running through the crowd with a European flag.
 
His team won, and thats all that counts. Nothing is sweeter than beating the Americans.
 
Related Links:
  • U.S. Report Cards
  • European Report Cards
  • U.S. Ryder Cup Team and Records
  • European Ryder Cup Team and Records
  • Full Coverage - 37th Ryder Cup
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    Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

    Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

    Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

    “I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

    The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

    “I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

    Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

    This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

    The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

    Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

    The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.


    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


    A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

    And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

    The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.


    Masters victory


    Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

    Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

    Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative


    Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ


    Green jacket tour

    Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

    Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

    Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket


    Man of the people


    Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

    Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

    Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief


    Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together


    Ace at 17th at Sawgrass


    Growing family

    Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

    Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018


    Departure from TaylorMade


    Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade


    Squashed beef with Paddy

    Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

    Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'


    Victory at Valderrama


    Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

    Getty Images

    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm
    Getty Images

    Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

    By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

    Well, this is a one new one.

    According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

    “No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

    Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

    “If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

    The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

    “I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

    The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

    Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

    Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.