Notes Sergio Likes Label

By Associated PressJanuary 7, 2005, 5:00 pm
04 Mercedes ChampionshipsKAPALUA, Hawaii -- Sergio Garcia has won only five times on the PGA Tour, and he won't celebrate his 25th birthday until Sunday. But with no other legitimate candidates to inherit Phil Mickelson's label, the Spaniard might have to settle for being the best player without a major.
 
And that's OK with him.
 
Sergio Garcia'I find it a bit funny ... because they're putting me on the list already,' Garcia said. 'If you just got on tour - and some people just got on tour who are 24 or 25 - you can't just put them on that. But it's also a good thing, because they consider you a good golfer.'
 
Garcia's five victories came in good tournaments - twice at the Buick Classic, Colonial, the Byron Nelson Championship and the winners-only Mercedes Championships.
 
And unlike other players, he has contended in majors.
 
Garcia first broke onto the scene as a 19-year-old at the PGA Championship, when he gouged that shot out of the tree on the 16th hole at Medinah and finished one shot behind Tiger Woods. He was paired with Woods in the final round of the 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black and finished fourth, and he closed with a 66 to tie for fourth at the Masters last year, although he never had a chance to win.
 
Garcia has had top 10s in all four majors.
 
'I'm working hard to try to get my majors soon,' he said. 'But it's something you can't rush. You have to keep giving yourself chances. There's some guys that are a bit more fortunate. They get one chance and they get through. And there's some other guys that it takes them a bit longer.'
 
TSUNAMI SINGH
Vijay Singh continues to give his PGA Tour perks to charity.
 
The U.S. Fund for UNICEF said the world's No. 1 player will help the smallest survivors of the tsunami in South Asia by donating proceeds of an auction on eBay that include the 2005 Buick Rainer he got for winning the Buick Open.
 
Last year, Singh earmarked $150,000 from a charity program for 54-hole leaders to hurricane victims in Florida.
 
'My wife thought it was a great idea to do that, and I didn't really need a car at this moment,' Singh said. 'But it's for a very good cause. There's a lot of people out there that need help. This is just a little thing that I can help, and I hope if you guys are looking for a car ... it's on eBay.'
 
His wife, Ardena, is from Malaysia.
 
The 41-year-old Fijian said he was in Phuket, Thailand, in November, walking down the street where the tsunami hit.
 
'I'm from Asia,' Singh said. 'My heart is from there, so I feel for the people there.'
 
Also part of the auction is a set of Cleveland clubs Singh used and tickets to 14 tour events, including all nine that Singh won last year. The PGA Tour will provide matching funds.
 
LEFTY'S BOOK
Everyone can read all about Phil Mickelson's victory at Augusta National the week of the Masters. Warner Books has acquired a book he wrote with Donald T. Phillips that is scheduled to be published on April 4.
 
The book is called 'One Magical Sunday: But Winning Isn't Everything.'
 
As it goes through every hole in the final round, Mickelson reflects on his journey to a green jacket - how he got started, developed his analytical approach as an amateur, and how his marriage and children keep his professional game in harmony with his needs.
 
'This book shows that no matter how many majors he wins, he'll always be at the top of the leaderboard in family values,' said Time Warner Book Group chairman Laurence Kirschbaum.
 
EURO SHOT OF THE YEAR
David Howell of England has won the Shot of the Year Award on the European tour for his 6-iron into the 17th green during a best-ball match at the Ryder Cup.
 
Along with a trophy from The Royal Bank of Scotland, Howell received a check for about $3,500 that he donated to the Tsunami Disaster Fund Appeal.
 
Europe was 1 down in its Saturday morning match, with momentum on the American side. Howell's 6-iron from 203 yards stopped 5 feet from the hole and he made the putt to square the match. Europe went on to win on the 18th hole, and eventually routed the Americans at Oakland Hills to capture the cup for the seventh time in 10 tries.
 
Turns out the shot of the year wasn't all that great.
 
'In all honesty, it wasn't the purest strike of my life,' Howell said. 'However, it went dead straight and released nicely to 5 feet. It was a great feeling to see the ball so close to the hole, and even better to make the putt.'
 
SENIOR MOMENT
The Sony Open will feature three old men and a baby.
 
Along with 15-year-old Michelle Wie playing next week at Waialae Country Club, Tom Kite, Craig Stadler and Peter Jacobsen from the Champions Tour are in the field.
 
Kite, 55, decided to use a one-time exemption from the money list to play a final year on the PGA Tour.
 
Stadler is still exempt from his victory in the 2003 B.C. Open. He might not have played the Sony Open, except that his 24-year-old son, Kevin, is making his debut as a PGA Tour rookie.
 
Seven players from the Mercedes Championships will not be playing next week on Oahu - Stephen Ames, Joey Sindelar, John Daly, Stuart Appleby, Sergio Garcia, Mike Weir and Tiger Woods, who has never played the Sony Open.
 
Appleby's wife is expecting their first child next week.
 
Related Links:
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    Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

    By Tiger TrackerFebruary 22, 2018, 4:45 pm

    Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.


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    Honda Classic: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

    By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 22, 2018, 2:15 pm

    The PGA Tour heads back east to kick off the Florida Swing at PGA National. Here are the key stats and information for the Honda Classic. Click here for full-field tee times.

    How to watch:

    Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

    Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

    Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6PM ET

    Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6PM ET


    Purse: $6.6 million ($1,188,000 to the winner)

    Course: PGA National, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida (par-70; 7,140 yards)

    Defending champion: Rickie Fowler (-12) won by four, picking off his fourth PGA Tour victory.


    Notables in the field:

    Tiger Woods

    • Making his fourth start at the Honda Classic and his first since withdrawing with back spasms in 2014.

    • Shot a Sunday 62 in a T-2 finish in 2012, marking his lowest career final-round score on the PGA Tour.

    • Coming off a missed cut at last week's Genesis Open, his 17th in his Tour career.


    Rickie Fowler

    • The defending champion owns the lowest score to par and has recorded the most birdies and eagles in this event since 2012.

    • Fowler's last start was at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where he failed to close a 54-hole lead. Fowler is 1-for-6 with 54-hole leads in his Tour career, with his only successful close coming at last year's Honda.

    • On Tour this year, Fowler is first in scrambling from the fringe, second in total scrambling and third in strokes gained around the green. 


    Rory McIlroy

    • It's been feast or famine for McIlroy at the Honda. He won in 2012, withdrew with a toothache in 2013, finished T-2 in 2014 and missed the cut in 2015 and 2016.

    • McIlroy ascended to world No. 1 with his victory at PGA National in 2012, becoming the second youngest player at 22 years old to top the OWGR, behind only Woods. McIlroy was later edged by a slightly younger 22-year-old Jordan Spieth.

    • Since the beginning of 2010, only Dustin Johnson (15) has more PGA Tour victories than McIlroy (13). 

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    Lexi, J. Korda part of four-way tie in Thailand

    By Associated PressFebruary 22, 2018, 1:01 pm

    CHONBURI, Thailand – Three-time tour winner Minjee Lee of Australia finished with a superb eagle putt to be among the four leaders after Day 1 of the LPGA Thailand at Siam Country Club on Thursday.

    Lee sank a 45-foot putt on the 18th hole to card a 6-under-par 66 to tie for the lead with 2016 champion Lexi Thompson, Jessica Korda, and local hope Moriya Jutanugarn.

    ''I just hit the collar. I didn't know if I was going to have enough. Such a big break there. I'm glad it caught the hole,'' Lee said.

    ''It's a second-shot golf course. Your approaches are really important, and obviously being in the right spots with the undulation. And if you have a hot putter that's going to help.''


    Full-field scores from the Honda LPGA Thailand


    Lee won the Vic Open near Melbourne this month and opened her 2018 LPGA tour account last week at the Women's Australian Open, finishing fifth.

    Thompson, who won this event in 2016 by six shots with a 20-under total and tied for fourth last year, started her latest round in style with an eagle followed by a birdie only to bogey the third hole. She carded four more birdies.

    ''It definitely helps to get that kind of start, but I was just trying to keep that momentum and not get ahead of myself,'' Thompson said.

    Her compatriot Korda had a roller-coaster round which featured eagles on the first and 17th holes, five birdies, a double bogey on the sixth, and two bogeys.

    Jutanugarn was the only player among the four to end the day without a bogey.

    ''I had a good start today, it was better than I expected,'' said Jutanugarn, who was seventh here last year.

    She's trying to become the first Thai winner of the tournament.

    Two-time champion Amy Yang and world No. 2 Sung Hyun Park were among six players at 5 under.

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    Tiger's checklist: How he can contend at Augusta

    By Ryan LavnerFebruary 21, 2018, 8:31 pm

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Augusta is already on the minds of most players here at the Honda Classic, and that includes the only one in the field with four green jackets.

    Yes, Tiger Woods has been talking about the Masters ever since he started this latest comeback at Torrey Pines. These three months are all about trying to build momentum for the year’s first major.

    Woods hasn’t revealed his schedule past this week, but his options are limited. He’s a good bet to play at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, where he has won eight times, but adding another start would be a departure from the norm. He’s not eligible for the two World Golf Championship events, in Mexico and Austin, and he has never played the Valspar Championship or the Houston Open.

    So there’s a greater sense of urgency this week at PGA National, which is realistically one of his final tune-ups.

    How will Woods know if he’s ready to contend at Augusta? Here’s his pre-Masters checklist:

    1. Stay healthy

    So far, so good, as Woods tries to resume a normal playing schedule following four back surgeries since 2014. Though he vowed to learn from his past mistakes and not push himself, it was a promising sign that Woods felt strong enough to sign up for the Honda, the second of back-to-back starts on separate coasts.

    Another reason for optimism on the health front: The soreness that Woods felt after his season opener at Torrey Pines wasn’t related to his surgically repaired back. No, what ached most were his feet – he wasn’t used to walking 72 holes on hilly terrain.

    Woods is stiffer than normal, but that’s to be expected. His back is fused.

    2. Figure out his driver

    Augusta National is more forgiving off the tee than most major courses, putting more of a premium on approach shots and recoveries.


    Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos


    That’s good news for Woods, who has yet to find a reliable tee shot. Clearly, he is most comfortable playing a fade and wants to take the left side of the course out of play, but in competition he’s been plagued by a two-way miss.

    In two starts this year, Woods has hit only 36 percent of the fairways, no matter if he was using driver, fairway wood or long iron.

    Unfortunately, Woods is unlikely to gain any significant insight into his driver play this week. PGA National’s Champion Course isn’t overly long, but there is water on 15 of the 18 holes. As a result, he said he likely will hit driver only four times a round, maybe five, and otherwise rely on his 3-wood and 2-iron. 

    Said Rory McIlroy: “Being conservative off the tee is something that you have to do here to play well.”

    That won’t be the case at Augusta.

    3. Clean up his iron play

    As wayward as Woods has been off the tee, his iron play hasn’t impressed, either.

    At Riviera, he hit only 16 greens in regulation – his fewest in a Tour event as a professional. Of course, Woods’ chances of hitting the green are reduced when he’s playing from the thick rough, sand and trees, but he also misfired on six of the eight par 3s.

    Even when Woods does find the green, he’s not close enough to the hole. Had he played enough rounds to qualify, his proximity to the hole (39 feet, 7 inches) would rank 161st on Tour.

    That won’t be good enough at Augusta, where distance control and precision are paramount.

    Perhaps that’s why Justin Thomas said last week what many of us were thinking: “I would say he’s a pretty good ways away.”

    4. Get into contention somewhere

    As much as he would have liked to pick off a win on the West Coast, Woods said that it’s not a prerequisite to have a chance at the Masters. He cited 2010, when he tied for fourth despite taking four months off after the fallout from his scandal.

    In reality, though, there hasn’t been an out-of-nowhere Masters champion since Charl Schwartzel in 2011. Since then, every player who eventually donned the green jacket either already had a win that year or at least a top-3 finish worldwide.

    “I would like to play well,” Woods said. “I would like to win golf tournaments leading into it. The years I’ve won there, I’ve played really well early.”

    Indeed, he had at least one win in all of the years he went on to win the Masters (1997, 2000, ’01, ’05). Throw in the fact that Woods is nearly five years removed from his last Tour title, and it’s reasonable to believe that he at least needs to get himself into contention before he can seriously entertain winning another major.

    And so that’s why he’s here at the Honda, trying to find his game with seven weeks to go. 

    “It’s tournament reps,” he said, “and I need tournament reps.”

    Add that to the rest of his pre-Masters checklist.