What If Sergio Wins

By Brian HewittJuly 20, 2007, 4:00 pm
No, this column does not come to you direct from David Lettermans home office in Wahoo, Nebraska. But what follows are the 10 top reasons, not necessarily in order, why a victory by 36-hole leader Sergio Garcia Sunday in the Open Championship at Carnoustie will be especially worth noting. Its a big if mostly because theres lots of golf left. But its always fun to take a peek into what-might-happen.
1.The Streak Will Be Over: The last European to win a major championship was Scotlands Paul Lawrie, at Carnoustie, way back in 1999. Since then the Euros have gone 0 for the 21st century. Its a drought theyre very tired of hearing about over and over. So they will be dancing from the bull rings of Pamplona to the soccer pitches of Manchester if El Nino finally delivers on all that promise he hasnt yet kept in the biggest championships.
2.The Clothes Will Have Been Fixed: Too many times in recent years Sergio has shown up on the tee wearing clothes that made him look like a human canary, a mint frappe or a raspberry sherbet cone. Thursday it was smart blue trousers and a tasteful cream-colored sweater. Friday it was sharp black top and crisp tan slacks. Marty Hackel would be proud. Garcia may finally have learned how to dress like a champion.
3.The Torch Will Have Been Passed: Early in the week Severiano Ballesteros, the greatest Spaniard ever to play the game, officially retired from competitive golf. Then another Spaniard, two-time Masters winner Jose Maria Olazabal, withdrew, citing a knee injury. This is clearly a sign from his countrymen that Garcias time has come. Miguel Angel Jimenez (tied for third after two rounds) has hung around for support. And the way hes playing, Jimenez could wind up in the final group with Garcia Sunday. That would be like Sancho Panza and Don Quixote. Jimenez (set in ital.) sanchismos (end ital.) would be the perfect complement to all Garcias (set in ital.) duende (end ital.).
4.Tiger Woods Will Have Been Put On Notice: Woods shocked everybody by dunking the first shot of his second round OB Friday. We have come to know over the years that as much as he hates to lose, there are some players he hates to lose to more than others. Garcia, who gloated openly after bagging Woods at the Battle of Bighorn way back in 2000, is one of those players. In short, the Claret Jug in Garcias possession will only make Woods more determined, if such a thing is possible. Tiger is seven back after 36 holes.
5.Garcias Manners May Improve: On his worst days, Garcia can be peevish, stubborn and downright rude. Earlier this year in Florida he spit into a golf cup on the course after being frustrated by poor putting. Doral officials are still waiting for a public apology. The figurative crown worn by major champions almost always improves their comportment.
6.Sergios Confidence Will Soar: Perhaps the best ball-striker in golf, Garcia obviously has found something with the belly putter. Continued belief with the flat stick is the one thing that could transform Garcia overnight into the best candidate to challenge Woods on a regular basis. Isnt that the player weve all been looking for the last 10 years?
7.Garcia Will No Longer Be TBPNTHWAM: The dubious distinction of being the best player never to have won a major will probably now belong to Adam Scott. Although Northern Irelands Rory McIlroy sure looks like the best 18-year-old (since Woods was that age) Ive ever seen never to have won a major. McIlroy fired a 3-under 68 Thursday and played well enough Friday to make the cut. Not bad for a fresh-faced kid who looks like hes still a couple of years away from shaving.
8.Cry-noustie Will Be A Distant Memory: At Carnoustie in 1999 a 19-year-old Garcia shot an 83 and an 89, missed the cut by millions and wept openly in his mothers arms. This time the only tears will be ones of joy. And there will be enough to fill a keg of Michelob Light.
9.The Americans Will Win The Next Ryder Cup: There is, at least, every reason to hope this will be the case since the Euros played so well in the Ryder Cup when they were playing so poorly in all those majors. Isnt golf supposed to be cyclical?
10.It Will Be Predicted By Experts That Garcia Will Win Multiple Majors Soon: And these predictions will be wrong. Weve heard this blather before. But the fact remains that Garcia and all the other guys out there right now are living in the time of Tiger Woods. Tiger is The Man in golf and will remain so for at least 10 and maybe 20 more years. Enjoy your moment while you can, Sergio.
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    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.