Garcias Love of Ryder Cup Shows in Record

By Associated PressSeptember 18, 2004, 4:00 pm
04 Ryder CupBLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- Sergio Garcia stood in the middle of the 18th green at Oakland Hills - twirling the flag above his head, pumping a fist skyward and reveling in another Ryder Cup triumph.
He's the Seve Ballesteros for this generation, a fiery Spaniard who keeps the Europeans pumped up, annoys the Americans to no end with his boisterous antics and takes his game to a different level when he's playing with a team.
'There's nothing better,' he said.
Garcia's love for the Ryder Cup is apparent in his record. He's 3-1-1 in better-ball matches, a perfect 6-0 in alternate shots. The only blemish on his record: an 0-2 mark in singles, which can be rectified Sunday when he goes against Phil Mickelson.
Like Ballesteros, Garcia has a knack for the dramatic, which he demonstrated again Saturday morning by making a seemingly impossible 50-foot putt at the 18th hole.
All he had to do was line up with his back to the hole, knock the ball up on a ridge where it could take a sharp left turn, and provide just the right speed so it could roll downhill and somehow find the cup.
It was only a bogey, a shot with no impact on the match even though Garcia flipped his putter into the air to celebrate. Fortunately, it didn't plunk anyone on the head.
But Garcia proved before his remarkable putt that he's more than just bluster and flamboyant shots. Only 24, he hardly acts like the youngest member of the European side, especially in the better-ball and alternate-shot matches that require camaraderie, teamwork and selflessness.
'It's not about Sergio. It's about Europe,' Garcia said. 'I'm just trying to help my team as much as I can. I just want to play well and get as many points as I can, give my team a better chance to win.'
Garcia has sure done that at Oakland Hills, helping to earn 3 1/2 points in his four matches. Europe is up 11-5 going to the final day, the largest lead for either team since the current format was adopted a quarter-century ago.
That's the way Ballesteros played the Ryder Cup game, going 20-12-5 in his career and flamboyantly leading the Europeans to an improbable victory in 1997 as the non-playing captain.
Seve is still remembered for taking a 3-wood into a bunker at the 18th hole in 1983, somehow managing to put a 250-yard shot out of the sand within 10 feet of the cup. Jack Nicklaus called it 'the finest golf shot I've ever seen.'
Twenty-one years later, Garcia and partner Lee Westwood went to No. 18 during the morning matches all tied up with Jay Haas and Chris DiMarco. Everyone realized the significance. The U.S. team was charging after a dismal first day, threatening to take all four better-ball points.
Garcia drove into the bunker and still wasn't on the green two shots later. Westwood, meanwhile, plugged his second shot in the rough left of the green and faced the difficult task of getting it close to the flag.
As he lined up for his third shot, Garcia suddenly had a thought.
'Hold on, Lee,' the Spaniard said, prompting Westwood to back away from his ball.
Garcia, who was closer to the flag, decided to hit first, hoping to give Westwood an idea of how he could flop the ball above the hole and let it trickle back down the slope.
Good idea. Poor execution.
Garcia flew his shot over the ridge, an embarrassed grin on his face as the ball didn't stop rolling until it was on the other side of the green.
'What were you thinking there?' Westwood quipped.
The Spaniard wasn't done yet.
After Westwood managed to stop his shot 12 feet from the flag, Garcia elected not to pick up. At first, he thought his own putt might be used to help his teammate read his. When Garcia realized that wouldn't work - a different line was required to funnel the ball toward the hole - he putted anyway, figuring a miracle shot might take some of the pressure off Westwood for his par putt.
'I'll just hit it out there and maybe I'll hit the jackpot,'' Garcia thought to himself.
'I just got lucky,' he said.
It didn't even matter than Westwood missed his putt, taking a bogey that halved the match. By the end of the day, the Europeans had a commanding lead, helped along by Garcia and Luke Donald beating Jim Furyk and Fred Funk 1-up in alternate shots.
Now, the visiting team needs only to win three of 12 matches Sunday to retain the cup it has claimed in six of the last nine meetings.
True to form, Garcia couldn't resist taking one last shot before he left Oakland Hills.
'Believe it or not,' he said, a devilish look on his face, 'there are guys who can play golf outside the States.'
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    If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

    She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

    You don’t believe it, though.

    She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

    Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

    Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

    “In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

    Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

    Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

    At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

    She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

    She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

    And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.

    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

    There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

    It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

    Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

    Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

    “I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

    About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

    Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

    “She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

    David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

    “She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

    Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

    Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

    “Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

    Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

    “It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

    Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

    “No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

    Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

    National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

    The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

    Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

    These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

    Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

    This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

    “I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”

    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

    Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

    In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

    If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Tour finals.

    “He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

    Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

    By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

    Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

    ''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

    The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

    The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.

    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

    ''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

    Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

    ''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

    First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

    Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

    ''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

    ''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''