Garcia would gladly trade label for a green jacket

By Associated PressApril 8, 2009, 4:00 pm
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AUGUSTA, Ga. ' Sergio Garcia was supposed to have won a major or two by now, if not more. Instead, the only title hes got is that dreaded best player never to win one.
 
And the way he was talking Wednesday, the oh-fer streak likely will continue this week at the Masters.
 
It would be nice, but Im not expecting it this week, Garcia said on his way to the Augusta National clubhouse after finishing a practice round with Greg Norman. My putting doesnt feel great, and probably my head is not beautiful at the moment. But you know, were trying to figure it out and see what I can do.
 
Asked what was wrong with his psyche, the Spaniard said hes dealing with some personal issues.
 
There are some things that have happened to me in the last four or five weeks that hasnt helped much, he said, declining to be more specific.
 
Whatever they are, theyve taken a toll on his game.
 
Garcia started the season strong by winning the first event on the European tour, the HSBC Champions, and following it with top-10 finishes in Abu Dhabi and Qatar. He also was 11th at the Dubai Desert Classic.
 
But he hasnt been the same since getting knocked out of the Accenture Match Play Championship in the first round by a guy ranked 63rd in the world. He tied for 31st at Doral, and was 77th last week at the Houston Open.
 
Im struggling a little bit. But you know, Im working on it, said Garcia, who was on the putting green before and after his round, and took extra putts on most of the nine holes he played with Norman, Robert Allenby and Camilo Villegas.
 
Hopefully, I can overcome it.
 
Garcia was just 16 when he played his first major, the British Open, and 17 when he won his first professional event. He turned pro at 19 in 1999, after recording the low amateur round at the Masters. He played eight events his first season as a pro, and had top-10 finishes in four of them.
 
But it was at the PGA Championship that year that the player, then known as El Nino, really took the world by storm.
 
Garcia delighted the crowds at Medinah Country Club that week, ripping balls through trees, leaping into the air to see where his shots landed and looking like he was having a grand time. He led after the first round, the youngest player to be atop the leaderboard at the PGA Championship since the tournament went to stroke play in 1958, and gave the event one of its greatest finishes.
 
Trailing Tiger Woods by five strokes at one point, his birdie on the 13th hole got him within three. After making his putt, he turned around, looked back at Woods on the tee and tugged his cap as if to say, Your turn. His tee shot on the 16th hole sailed wide right and landed behind an oak tree, settling behind a knot of roots.
 
The green was hidden and the pin 189 yards away, and most players would have been content to simply chip out. Not Garcia. He grabbed a 6-iron, closed his eyes and swung. He sprinted out to the fairway and jumped like a hurdler at the top of a hill so he could watch as the ball landed on the green.
 
Woods ended up winning the Wanamaker Trophy for his second major title, with Garcia a stroke behind. But it looked as if golfs next rivalry for the ages had begun.
 
Woods has, obviously, held up his end of the bargain, winning another 12 majors. Garcia, well, thats a little more complicated.
 
Now 29, he is 0-for-38 in the majors. But hes had nine top-five finishes and could have shed that awful label at either the 2007 British Open or last years PGA Championship. He had the lead in the final round at both, only to wind up second to Padraig Harrington each time.
 
Garcia is an excellent Ryder Cup player, a big part of the reason Europe had won three straight before last years American win at Valhalla. He won last years Players Championship, his biggest victory yet, and went to Doral this year with a chance to be No. 1 in the world ' mathematically at least.
 
Theres guys that get a little bit fortunate. They get in contention in a major and manage to get things going their way. And unfortunately, it hasnt happened to me, Garcia said after falling short again at the PGA. I feel like I played well enough to win probably more than two majors throughout my career.
 
Garcia is hardly in the twilight of his career, and will surely have plenty more chances. But the competition isnt getting any easier. Woods and Phil Mickelson are as good as ever, and Harrington has won the last two majors. Youngsters Anthony Kim and Camilo Villegas are already winners, and teenyboppers Rory McIlroy, Danny Lee and Ryo Ishikawa have the moxie ' and the talent ' Garcia once did.
 
Thats the future of golf and were going to be here to try and help it on, but its always nice to see youngsters coming up and making sure the game is still in good hands, Garcia said.
 
Asked if he still feels like a youngster, Garcia paused.
 
Yeah, I still feel young. Its getting there, though, he said, smiling.
 
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    Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.


    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


    It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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    Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

    By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

    Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

    Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

    “I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

    “The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

    Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

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    Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

    LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

    Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

    ''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

    It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    ''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

    Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

    ''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

    After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

    ''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

    He's making his first start in the event.

    ''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

    Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

    ''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

    Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

    ''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

    The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

    ''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

    Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

    ''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

    Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

    Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

    Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

    John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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    Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

    By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

    Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

    He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

    How rare is his missing the cut there?

    The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

    The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

    Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

    Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.