Faldo explains 'useless' comment about Garcia

By Doug FergusonSeptember 26, 2014, 11:37 pm

GLENEAGLES, Scotland – Nick Faldo defended his television commentary that Sergio Garcia was ''useless'' in the 2008 Ryder Cup, saying the Spaniard had emotional and physical problems at Valhalla and even told Faldo that he did not want to play.

Faldo, captain of that 2008 team that lost to the Americans, conceded it was a harsh choice of words. But in an interview Friday night with The Associated Press, he revealed details of that Ryder Cup and said ''he wasn't the Sergio everyone knows now.''

He said Garcia was emotionally down after breaking up with his girlfriend and told him he didn't want to play after the pairings already were in.

Garcia's teammates rallied around him Friday night at Gleneagles after a late rally to take a 5-3 lead in the Ryder Cup.

''Are you sure you didn't misquote him?'' Garcia said when told of Faldo's comments. ''That's unfortunate. I guess he doesn't feel European. That's the only thing I can think of. There's a lot of things I could say about Nick Faldo, but I'm not going to put myself down to his level.''

Faldo is the analyst for Golf Channel, and as Garcia was teeing off Friday morning in fourballs with Rory McIlroy, host Terry Gannon said that regardless of what Garcia has done on his own, he has been ''spectacular'' during the Ryder Cup.

''Yes, apart from one,'' Faldo replied.

When Gannon asked if that 2008 Ryder Cup still hurt, Faldo said: ''He was useless.'' After some laughter, Faldo added: ''Half a point, bad attitude. Anyway, we move on six years later.''

Garcia actually earned one point from going 0-2-2 for the week, his worst record in six Ryder Cups.

''He was always labeled as the man who brings emotion and passion. We didn't have it that week,'' Faldo told the AP. ''That's, in my opinion, how it looked and felt.''

Faldo said Garcia was ''down in the dumps'' after Morgan Leigh Norman, the daughter of Greg Norman, had broken up with him.

''Friday morning, I'm going up the 10th hole with him,'' he said. ''I just put my arm around him and said, 'Are you good to go this afternoon?' And he said, 'Yes' to me. Then I get him on the 18th green and he says, 'I'm (expletive). I don't want to play anymore. I've been on antibiotics.' I told him he was on the tee in 30 minutes.''

The pairings are submitted for the afternoon before the morning matches are over.

''That was the tone of Sergio for the whole week,'' Faldo said. ''He wasn't in it.''

Faldo said his choice of words - ''useless'' - stems from reacting on live television.

''I agree that was harsh,'' he said. ''Everybody immediately goes straight to him that 'Faldo says you were useless' when they don't know the circumstances. It's live television. It's half tongue-in-cheek. It's a throwaway line with no malice.''

Friday ended much better than it started for Garcia.

After losing a fourballs match to Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley, Garcia and McIlroy won the last two holes for a momentum-building half-point. When Faldo's comments were mentioned, Westwood said, ''That's a great question. OK. We'll take the euphoria we all have from today and just crush it.''

Graeme McDowell pointed out that Westwood and Garcia were benched for the first time in their Ryder Cup careers at Valhalla.

''You've got one of the best Ryder Cup pairings of all time being sat down on a Saturday afternoon of a Ryder Cup that we go on to lose,'' McDowell said. ''I'd say Sergio was fairly useless that afternoon, yeah. Because he wasn't able to play.''

Faldo said he didn't want ''to create a bigger fire than it is'' during the Ryder Cup. He said he would explain his comments on television Saturday given the chance, though it would be a Golf Channel show and not during the main telecast. NBC Sports with Johnny Miller takes over on the weekend.

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Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

"Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.

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Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.



The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''

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13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.

“An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”



Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.

Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

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McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.

Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


“I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

“Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014.