Sergio hunted down again

By Brian HewittAugust 10, 2008, 4:00 pm
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2008 US Open 81x90BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. ' Suddenly Sergio Garcia and Padraig Harrington are inextricably and improbably linked.
 
The connection has been sporting heaven for Harrington, the son of an Irish cop. And it is has been big stage hell for Garcia, the one-time Spanish boy wonder who will be excused if he is having a hard time accepting the notion that golf is just a game.
 
Garcia, the most frustrated player not to have won a major, got another long look Sunday at why he will have to continue to wait his turn. What he saw, playing in the same group, was Harrington carve a second consecutive 66 out of the trenches to capture the 90th PGA Championship at monstrous Oakland Hills.
 
Last year in the Open Championship at Carnoustie it was Harrington defeating a bitterly-disappointed Garcia in a playoff that marked the first major championship victory for a European in the 21st century. This time it was Harrington and Garcia, dueling, in plain view of each other, for five hours on a blustery, rainy, summer afternoon in the upper Midwest.
 
Garcia jumped out to a lightning start with a birdie and an eagle on the first two holes and turned in 4-under 31. Harrington was three behind at that point.
 
It looked like his day, Harrington said.
 
But Garcia bogeyed the 16th, missed a short birdie try at 17 and bogeyed 18th while Harrington was one-putting the same three, all from about 12 feet, to save par, make birdie and save par, respectively.
 
Harrington has now won two consecutive major championships ' he won the Open Championship at Birkdale last month. And ' another milestone ' he is the first European to capture the PGA Championship since Scotlands Tommy Armour beat Gene Sarazen 1-up, when the event was still match play, 78 long years ago.
 
And, oh-by-the-way, Harrington has now won three of the last six majors. Thats Tiger-like, said Ben Curtis, who wound up tied with Garcia at 1-under par 279, two shots back of Harrington. Camilo Villegas and Henrik Stenson tied for fourth at 281. Phil Mickelson shot a Sunday 70 and shared seventh with Andres Romero.
 
Its a long way to catch up with Tiger, Harrington clarified. But he said he was flattered that people are even asking him now about the possibility.
 
For his efforts, Curtis didnt go unrewarded. He and seven other players ' Mickelson, Stewart Cink, Kenny Perry, Jim Furyk, Anthony Kim, Justin Leonard and Boo Weekley ' have now made captain Paul Azingers U.S. Ryder Cup team that will face the Europeans in Kentucky next month. The final four Americans will be announced Sept. 2 as captains picks by Azinger.
 
In the end, Harrington won this championship with his resolve and his flat stick, needing just 51 putts on the weekend on greens many believe to be the most difficult in the United States. He knows how to win, Curtis said. And hes not afraid to win.
 
I felt an edge in experience, Harrington said, which might have been a polite way of saying he believes hes inside Garcias head right now.
 
Added Garcia of Harrington: He was obviously very good on the back nine. Harrington turned in 34 and came home in 32.
 
Garcia meanwhile was a study in resignation. The only thing I can do, he said, is go back home with my head up high and keep working at it. I feel like I gave it my best.
 
But it will be a long time before he forgets the 6-iron from 178 yards that found the water on his second shot at the dangerous par 4 16th. He followed that with a 5-foot par putt that lipped out on 17 and a 14-footer for par on the difficult 18th that also stayed out of the hole.
 
Harrington revealed afterward that he may have been suffering from dehydration halfway through the championship. I was losing my coordination, he said. After stumbling to a Friday 74 he told reporters he didnt think he had a chance on the weekend.
 
Then he started drinking liquids. Then he went out and hung a pair of 66s on the board at a course many players insisted was unfair because of its difficult green complexes and firm fairways that were tough to find until Saturday rains softened the course and forced much of the final two rounds to be squeezed into Sunday.
 
Harrington nursed a sore wrist in the days leading up to his victory at Royal Birkdale last month. And he admitted late Sunday that adversities help his focus. I actually struggle, he said, when things are comfortable.
 
Second round leader J.B. Holmes, forced to play 36 holes Sunday because of the Saturday weather delays, triple bogeyed his first hole of the final round en route to a front nine 43 and a closing 81 that dropped him all the way down to a tie for 29th with Jim Furyk. Steve Flesch, on the other hand, holed his third shot from off the green for a birdie on the difficult 18th and carded a 69 for a hustling back-door top 10 (sixth place).
 
Harrington, at the moment, is considered by many to be the second best player in the world even though hes still ranked No. 3 behind the recuperating Woods and No. 2 Mickelson.
 
The two 66s he fired on the weekend wont soon be forgotten. You wouldnt think that was possible, said Curtis. Probably one of the better two-round totals weve seen in a long time.
 
And clearly the best golf weve seen since Tiger Woods shut his season down in June with leg injuries.
 
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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.