I was there when the boy almost won his first major, but the young man instead won another.
I was there, standing off the left side of the 18th green at Medinah Country Club, watching as the 23-year-olds putted out for victory. I watched as he gave a weary and relieved fist pump. I watched as he hugged his mother, his girlfriend and his 19-year-old adversary.
I was there at the 1999 PGA Championship, where the Wanamaker Trophy was awarded to Tiger Woods, and the keys to the golfing world seemed handed to Sergio Garcia.
The 81st edition of the PGA Tour will forever be remembered for Woods weathering El Nio. A boy running and leaping like a ballerina, its time-stamped image.
But the way in which the week ended, all the smiles and the hugs and the promise, could not have been more contrarian to how it began.
Much of the talk prior to the start of the PGA wasnt even about the PGA. It revolved around the Ryder Cup and comments certain prominent players had recently made about receiving compensation for participation.
Said U.S. Ryder Cup captain Ben Crenshaw on the eve of the event, It burns the hell out of me to listen to some of their view points.
<i>They</i> were most notably and constant David Duval, then the No. 1-ranked player in the world, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Mark OMeara.
Duval had said previously in a <i>Golf Digest</i> interview that the Ryder Cup had become a little overcooked, but its probably going to stay that way until players choose not to play.
Duval and Woods both referred to the Ryder Cup as an exhibition. To someone like Crenshaw, you might as well call John Wayne a wuss or George Patton a commie.
As for the monetary issue, Woods said during his Tuesday press conference, I would like to see us receive whatever the amount is, whether its $200,000, $300,000, $400,000, $500,000, whatever it is, and I think we should be able to keep the money and do whatever we see fit.
It was OMeara who had first raised the compensation issue nearly a year prior after <i>Golf Digest</i> reported that the PGA of America netted roughly $17 million for the playing of the biennial competition.
Talk of a Ryder Cup controversy and liberal use of the words player boycott drowned out all the other storylines entering the PGA Championship ' Woods trying to win his first major since winning his first major; Colin Montgomerie simply trying to win his first major and Jean Van de Velde playing his first major since an epic collapse in his last major.
The focus finally shifted to the tournament on Thursday after Garcia shot 6-under 66 to take a two-stroke lead on a soggy Day 1.
That score was a 23-stroke improvement upon his opening round performance at the Open Championship, where he shot 89-83 and wept openly in the arms of his mother.
Of course, it didnt take long before some jackass in the media brought up Carnoustie.
I was said jackass.
Sergio, what was the difference between the first round here today and your first round in , was the innocent question.
I think the British Open is done, so I don't want to hear any more questions about the Open, was the defiant answer.
He looked on the verge of tears ' again.
Some things never change: Ten years later Garcia is still emotional, still showcases the maturity of a teenager at times and is still without a major title to his credit.
Some things, however, do
Garcia played a practice round with Woods at Medinah, a sign that the two might cordially compete against one another for years. Thats certainly what Garcia had in mind when he said Sunday evening, I said when I turned pro that I wanted to be the No. 1 golfer in the world. I want to be a rival for Tiger, but always being friends like we [were] today.
Some things change quite a bit.
After a disappointing second-round 1-over 73, Garcia shot 68 Saturday to enter the final round two shots back of Woods and a second-year PGA Tour pro named Mike Weir.
Weir, the reigning Q-School medalist, had never won on Tour. But he sure acted like he had been there before. He couldnt have been more courteous throughout the week, meeting each media request with compliance and a smile.
Even after he shot 80 in the final round to fall into a tie for 10th, Weir was congenial. A semi-circle of reporters, myself included, pressed Weir against the scoring trailer. You knew hed rather be in Gen Pop than where he was at the moment, but he answered every question in a most professional manner.
I gave it my best and I didnt give up, he said. Eighty is the best score I could have shot, obviously. I tried on every shot.
Ill be back again.
Three-and-a-half years later he made good on that promise, winning the Masters Tournament.
Not a person with a media badge would have bet that Sunday at Medinah that Weir would have won a major before Garcia ' or that a decade later Garcia would still be major-ly deprived.
That Montgomerie is still sans major is far less shocking.
After tying for sixth at Medinah, Montgomerie headed off the grounds in a huff when some jackass dared ask him a question.
Again, I was said jackass.
Monty, does not winning a major dampen what has been a very good season for you, was the carefully phrased question.
No, just for you, was the very curt response.
Montys sullenness ' and Weirs unfortunate 80 ' aside, Sunday of the 99 PGA was a brilliant display of emotion.
What looked like a Tiger runaway, something not seen in a major championship since in 97, turned into a tight contest early on the back nine. Woods bogeyed the 12th hole, his first dropped shot of the day, and then watched on the par-3 13th tee box as Garcia made a 15-foot putt for birdie up ahead.
Garcia looked back at Woods and emphatically pumped his arm.
I just wanted him to know I was still there and let him know he had to play well to win, Garcia said of the celebration, adding that he wasnt trying to show up Woods.
Of course, as weve come to learn, you can tell Tiger good putt and hell perceive it as a slight because you didnt refer to it as great.
Woods never saw Garcias reaction, or so he said: I saw him make the putt and I turned away. I knew what he had to do.
He just didnt do it.
Woods airmailed a 6-iron and recorded a double bogey. The lead was now one.
It remained that way as Garcia stood in the right rough of the 16th hole, his ball nestled in the knot of a tree root.
Adhering to his favorite slogan, Suerto o Muerto ' luck or death ' Garcia violently lashed at the ball with a 6-iron. His eyes closed, his head turned, he never saw the club make contact. With a hill impeding his view of the green as well, he ran up the fairway and leaped with a scissor kick to catch a glimpse of his ball rolling to the back of the green, some 60 feet from the pin.
The crowd exploded. The people were his.
I hope you dont shank it in the water, Woods would later hear from a patron while approaching the par-3 17th.
Garcia two-putted for par at 16 and missed birdie putts on 17 and 18 to finish at 10-under 278.
We later learned that Sergio Garcia being a major challenger to Tiger Woods was merely a myth, born in the legendary happenings on the 16th hole Sunday at Medinah.
We also learned in time that Tiger Woods is the greatest clutch putter in the history of the game. That is a fact, established on the 17th hole that same day.
Still leading by one and facing a par putt that could make a dog sweat, Woods, with assistance on the read from caddie Steve Williams, made the 6-foot slider.
He capped his victory with a routine two-putt for par at the last. It was major No. 2 and win No. 11 on Tour.
Ten years later he stands at 14 and 71, respectively.
After hugging Williams, Woods greeted his mother, Kultida, and girlfriend, Joanna Jagoda, in same. Garcia was there waiting to offer another embrace.
To come out of it on top took everything out of me, Woods said afterwards. I just tried to hold him [Garcia] off and did the best I could.
The 1999 PGA Championship was the first major championship I ever attended. I wont forget Crenshaws anger, Weirs congeniality, Montgomeries boorishness, Garcias duality, Duvals indifference or Woods resoluteness.
But in the end, its the end that everyone else will always remember.