Sergio Hoping Luck on His Side at PGA

By Associated PressAugust 8, 2007, 4:00 pm
PGA ChampionshipTULSA, Okla. -- Rarely has a second-place finisher sounded like as big a loser as Sergio Garcia did after the British Open.
 
Three weeks later, and with another shot at a major coming up, Garcia said he wouldn't have changed a thing.
 
Well, maybe one thing.
 
Sergio Garcia
Sergio Garcia practices Wednesday in effort to win his first major championship. (Getty Images)
'I would have tried to hit that putt on 18 a little bit further out,' he said Wednesday, on the eve of the PGA Championship.
 
Concerning his post-Carnoustie comments, in which he elevated his bad luck to Shakespearean proportions, insisting nobody gets as many bad breaks as he does ... well, for that, he has no regrets.
 
'Yeah, I was emotional,' he said. 'I opened myself up to you guys, and I said what I felt. That's pretty much it.'
 
Several times Wednesday, Garcia gave Padraig Harrington the credit he duly deserves for winning the British Open, a sentiment that was sorely missing in the heat of the moment at Carnoustie.
 
Harrington's win, of course, left one fewer person to vie with Garcia for the title of Best Player to Never Win a Major.
 
Sergio burst onto the scene in 1999 as 'El Nino,' a brash teenager expected to be Tiger's next great challenger. But each year, the magical moment at that PGA -- the tree root, the sprint up the fairway at Medinah, the second-place finish filled with so much potential -- fades further into memory.
 
'It's a different situation,' Garcia said when asked if he used 1999 as positive reinforcement coming into this week. 'I didn't win the British Open. Padraig did, and he deserved it. He played very, very well all week. But I was the only one who had the winning putt in regulation. And to me, you know, that means a lot.'
 
If that putt slides an inch to the right, it's Garcia playing alongside first-time major winners Zach Johnson and Angel Cabrera in Thursday's opening round at Southern Hills and Harrington answering questions about how he manages to move on.
 
Instead, Garcia has fallen to 0-for-33 in the majors, a stat that, fair or not, carries more weight than his 14-4-2 Ryder Cup record. And it's Garcia who now plays the still-waiting-for-a-major role that once belonged to Phil Mickelson -- except in many minds, Garcia doesn't play it with nearly as much charm.
 
On Tuesday, Mickelson talked about how the hardest part of not winning a major was answering all the questions, trying to be open and honest and not sound like an idiot relating the deep-down feeling that he was sure his day would come soon.
 
'No matter which way you went with it, it was always going to come back to bite you,' Mickelson said.
 
Garcia tried to be open and honest after Carnoustie, but it was merely translated as self-pitying and lame.
 
Many feel he sacrificed his chance for empathy a long time ago.
 
He made few fans during his annoying bout of constant club waggling that stymied his game earlier this decade. His behavior at Bethpage during the 2002 U.S. Open, when he complained about the conditions, so-called preferential treatment for Tiger Woods and made an obscene gesture toward fans who were heckling him, may have been a turning point in the way many view him. Earlier this year, he spit in the cup after three-putting at the CA Championship at Doral, a gesture that couldn't be construed as anything but classless.
 
He was in the last group with Tiger at Bethpage, though he never had much of a chance. Last year, he played with Tiger again on Sunday at the British Open, but wilted quickly and finished fifth -- the most memorable thing about that round being the garish banana-yellow outfit he wore.
 
Now, Carnoustie. To get over his latest heartbreak, Garcia played a little tennis, went to the beach, hung out with friends.
 
'And then I started practicing,' he said. 'I think it was on Thursday, trying to get ready for Bridgestone last week.'
 
Harrington told of running into Garcia in the parking lot during last week's tournament. Both men were getting into their cars, so there wasn't a real opportunity to chat.
 
'It was very odd,' Harrington said.
 
He said that, sure, it would have been difficult for him to rebound had he lost the British, especially considering the double-bogey he posted on the 18th hole to put Garcia in position to win.
 
Garcia could have won, probably should have won. But then came the long wait -- five to 15 minutes depending on whom you talk to -- for his second shot on the 18th fairway. That led to an approach shot into a bunker. And that led to a 10-foot putt to win, one he struck well, but that just didn't go in.
 
He lost the playoff to Harrington by one stroke.
 
'I don't know. I should write a book on how to not miss a shot in the playoff and shoot 1-over,' Garcia said afterward. 'It's the way it is. I guess it's not news in my life.'
 
Open and honest? Or whiny and pathetic?
 
On Wednesday, he took a little bit different view of his bad breaks. He was focusing on the positives from that deflating day.
 
'That's the beauty of the game. That's what we play for,' he said. 'But you know, the guy that finishes second is always the first loser, I guess, so it's hard sometimes.'
 
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    Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

    While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

    “I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

    Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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    DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

    Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

    “I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

    Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

    “Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

    Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

    “It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

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    Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

    What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

    Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    “I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

    McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

    He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

    Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

    “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

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    Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

    Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

    Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials contacted Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

    Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

    Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

    Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial.