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
  • Getty Images

    Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

    Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

    Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

    As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

    "That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

    Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

    Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

    Getty Images

    Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

    If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

    Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

    But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

    Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

    Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

    Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

    Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

    Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

    Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

    Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

    Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

    Getty Images

    Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

    SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

    Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

    “It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

    Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

    “What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

    Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

    “When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

    Getty Images

    Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

    SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

    Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

    Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

    Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.