Garcia searching for enthusiasm in golf

By Associated PressMarch 17, 2011, 12:20 am

Transistions ChampionshipPALM HARBOR, Fla. – So much about Sergio Garcia looks the same as ever. So much about him is uncertain – mostly what’s in his heart.

Setting up over a shot, he slowly releases his fingers from the grip and carefully replaces them in just the right position, checking himself one last time before unleashing a swing that made him of the best ball-strikers in golf.

But when he missed the cut at the PGA Championship last August, the 31-year-old Spaniard took a 10-week break to see if he could rediscover his enthusiasm for golf.

Garcia returns to the PGA Tour for the first time in seven months at the Transitions Championship at Innisbrook, which starts Thursday. He played four times on the European Tour late last year after his break and had mixed results. He played three times on the European Tour during its Middle East swing and had more of the same.

“I definitely feel like I want to be out there,” Garcia said. “So that always helps.”

He has a long road in front of him. It was only two years ago that Garcia rose to No. 2 in the world and had a chance to replace Tiger Woods atop the world ranking. Since then, it has been a steady drop all the way to No. 85.

One reason he waited until the middle of March to play his first U.S. tour event was because of his ranking. He no longer was eligible for the Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona for the top 64, or the Cadillac Championship last week at Doral for the top 50.

He’s in the Masters from winning The Players Championship three years ago.

Garcia attributes some of his malaise to splitting up two years ago with the daughter of Greg Norman, telling the Times of London later that year it was the first time he had ever truly been in love.

That’s about as far as Garcia goes in analyzing his passion for golf.

“It was a mix of things,” he said Wednesday after his pro-am round on the Copperhead course. “A couple of things off the golf course didn’t help. And then I just started playing not great. Knowing how I can play and what I’m capable of doing, I don’t like to settle for less.

“So I guess a mix of those things kind of pulled down a little bit,” he said. “But we are looking forward to it now.”

To what degree? Only he knows.

Garcia last won a tournament in the Castello Masters toward the end of the 2008 season. He missed the Ryder Cup last year for the first time in his career, although he was at Celtic Manor as a vice captain. Since then, Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer have gone to No. 1, with Graeme McDowell, Paul Casey and Rory McIlroy poised to challenge for the top.

How badly does Garcia want to be part of that mix?

“To tell you the truth, I just want to be out there and just want to enjoy playing,” Garcia said. “And hopefully, just play better as I get on. Whatever happens, happens.”

He is part of a strong field at Innisbrook, which includes the No. 1 player for the first time since 2005. Kaymer will be playing in the opening two days with Bubba Watson and Nick Watney, who is coming off a big win last week at Doral.

Garcia is in another feature group with Matteo Manassero, the 17-year-old Italian whose career is similar to Garcia’s in so many ways. Manassero became the youngest British Amateur champion when he won at age 15. Two months later, he tied for 13th in the British Open at Turnberry while playing the first two rounds with Tom Watson.

Garcia first started playing the PGA Tour as a teenager who didn’t even have a driver’s license. Ditto for Manassero, who is still a year away from taking driving lessons in Italy.

Last year, Manassero became the youngest winner in European Tour history – winning on Garcia’s home course, of all things.

“I’ve always been a fan of him,” Manassero said. “He’s a great guy and he’s a fantastic golf player. And he’s had a bad moment, but definitely you can see – everybody can see – he’s coming out of this moment. I definitely want him to get back to winning golf tournaments and to get back as he was.”

Garcia tied for ninth in the Qatar Masters, then got thrown right into it a week later when he was paired with Woods, his old nemesis, in the final round at Dubai. Both struggled in the wind and tied for 20th.

“As you gain a bit of confidence, it kind of helps,” he said. “There’s nothing better than confidence for your mental game. When you are feeling confident, you don’t think about things. You just kind of do them. I think as we keep getting better and better, that will happen.”

Garcia is not in a big hurry to get back to where he feels he belongs – the elite in golf. By age 30, he already had 18 wins around the world and played on five Ryder Cup teams. He has been runner-up in three majors, including the PGA Championship at 19.

For a guy who is 31, Garcia must feel as though he’s been around forever.

Now, the goal is to feel like a kid again.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.