Sergio Gives Oak Tree Identity All Its Own

By Associated PressAugust 18, 2006, 4:00 pm
2006 PGA ChampionshipMEDINAH, Ill -- Their eyes scan from tree to tree, ultimately homing in on what seems like a nondescript old oak.
 
And then, spectators ask: 'Is this the 'Sergio Tree?''
 
Pebble Beach has its famed 18th hole. Augusta National has the Eisenhower Tree. And Medinah Country Club has an oak about eight feet to the right of the fairway near a bend and a slope along the 453-yard 16th hole.
 
It is about 100 years old and showing its age, with several large scars where there were branches. It stands about 45 feet tall, its trunk about three feet in diameter.
 
There's nothing unusual about it except its place in golf lore, because this tree was the site of Sergio Garcia's improbable shot during the final round of the 1999 PGA Championship.
 
Who can forget, especially with the PGA back at Medinah.
 
'A lot of the shots have changed since 1999,' Garcia said after Thursday's first round.
 
Earlier in the week, he revisited his past when he took a look at the old tree.
 
'I remember three or four weeks ago, before coming in here, they were telling me that the tree was struggling a little bit and they've had to overseed that little spot because everybody's been hitting from it,' he said.
 
As a 19-year-old competing in his second major as a pro, Garcia grabbed the lead after the first round in 1999 but trailed Tiger Woods by as many as five strokes on the final day before making a charge.
 
Down two on the 16th tee, Garcia seemed to knock himself out of contention when the ball sailed wide right and settled between the roots of the tree, 189 yards from the pin and near the bottom of a steep slope. The green was hidden.
 
Instead, he -- and the tree -- earned a spot in history.
 
Garcia grabbed his 6-iron and closed his eyes as he made contact. Then, he sprinted, jumped and scissors-kicked as the ball somehow made its way to the green.
 
It was a memorable shot, a memorable celebration.
 
Garcia saved par, but Woods took the title by one stroke for his second win at a major. He's going for No. 12 this week while Garcia, with 11 top-10 finishes, is still searching for his first.
 
Seven years later at No. 16, hole marshal Robert Bradshaw hears the question 'about once every four, five minutes.'
 
One spectator wonders why there's no sign marking the tree. Hey, Arnold Palmer got a plaque at Royal Birkdale for his wondrous shot nearly 40 years earlier, when he uprooted a shrub with a 6-iron.
 
Another fan, Ron Newman, wants to know the distance from the tee to the oak.
 
'Actually, it was even more (hectic) on the practice-round days,' Bradshaw says.
 
On those days, people asked if they could touch the tree. Bradshaw's answer: No.
 
'It would be nice to,' he says.
 
When he arrived at the course, Dudley Colton of Denver headed for the tree -- just like Garcia's shot. A national accounts manager for the Johns Manville insulation and roofing company, he's here with customers.
 
And he's in awe.
 
'This is probably like (seeing) Tiger Stadium or Yankee Stadium,' he says.
 
He looks at the tree, looks at the slope and shakes his head.
 
As impressive as Garcia's shot looks on TV, the view changes up close.
 
'It's more impressive,' Colton said. 'On TV, people don't see the elevation. They don't see everything he was faced with. It looked tough on TV. But to see it here, it just made it more incredible -- especially for a 19-year-old.'
 
Colton said he would take a drop rather than attempt a shot like that.
 
Ron Newman of nearby Elgin, Ill., said he would probably break his wrists if he tried, so he would punch the ball onto the fairway, instead.
 
Garcia was in contention at a major so he went for it. And after imitating a weekend golfer on his tee shot, he did something incredible.
 
Now, weekend golfers try to copy him. And a nondescript oak has an identity -- the 'Sergio tree.'
 
'People naturally want to go and try that shot, just for the heck of it,' course superintendent Tom Lively says. 'There are always people who have to do that.'
 
The ground around the oak takes a beating. Sometimes, a new patch of sod is needed because people keep chopping away.
 
But the tree itself? It's OK.
 
Lightning and wind damage killed some branches over the years, but overall, the old oak is healthy. Removing it was never a consideration.
 
'The leaves are trimmed and it looks great,' Lively said.
 
That shot simply looks daunting.
 
'It's probably half skill and half luck,' Newman's friend Tom McTavish says, before changing his mind. 'Probably 60 percent luck. If he was 29, he probably wouldn't have done it. He would have pitched it up, like everyone else. You're bulletproof when you're 19 -- at least that's what I always thought.'
 
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    Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

    Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

    Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

    “I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

    The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

    “I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

    Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

    This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

    The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

    Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

    The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.


    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


    A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

    And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

    The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.


    Masters victory


    Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

    Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

    Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative


    Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ


    Green jacket tour

    Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

    Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

    Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket


    Man of the people


    Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

    Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

    Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief


    Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together


    Ace at 17th at Sawgrass


    Growing family

    Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

    Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018


    Departure from TaylorMade


    Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade


    Squashed beef with Paddy

    Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

    Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'


    Victory at Valderrama


    Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm
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    Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

    By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

    Well, this is a one new one.

    According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

    “No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

    Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

    “If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

    The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

    “I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

    The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

    Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

    Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.