Sergio Hits the Shot but Tiger Wins the Crown in 99
The PGA Championship of 1999 introduced the two front and center ' Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia. How many more big championships will they play before their careers are finally over? If the answer is many, then people will always look back to the PGA at Medinah in 1999 as the first.
Garcia was brilliant as a 19-year-old in the opening round, firing a 66, which tied a Medinah course record. Today was a great day, he said. I think Ive proven myself today.
Woods shot a 67 the second day but couldnt catch 45-year-old Jay Haas, who took the lead when Garcia slipped back with a 73. Woods had a great start, birdieing the first three holes. Basically, it was the start I wanted, he said. I got myself right back in contention. After the halfway point, he stood in third place.
Woods continued his exceptional play the third round, firing a 68 to tie Mike Weir for the lead. However, Garcia had a 68, too, and entering the final day stood tied for third, two behind Woods.
Garcia tried diligently to catch Tiger the fourth round. He knocked a ball in the water the second, but hit a tremendous recovery and made a 12-feet putt to make bogey. He recovered with a birdie at the fifth, but by mid-round it appeared Woods would get to the finish line in a breather.
Through 11 holes, Tiger was 4-under for the day, 15-under for the week, and held a five-shot lead with only eight holes to play. But at No. 12 he three-putted for a bogey after Garcia dropped in an 18-foot putt for birdie at No. 12. Suddenly things got interesting.
A double-bogey five by Tiger at 13th tightened up the match to its minimum ' one shot. Now the big crowd was solidly behind Sergio, sensing an upset. Could it really happen?
Garcia committed a cardinal sin when he bogeyed a par-5, the 15th. At 16, though, came a shot that will surely live in the minds of golf fans everywhere. Sergios tee shot had flown right, landing up against a tree trunk between two roots.
I had a shot, but I had to hit a big slice, Garcia said. The problem was that on the downswing, I could hit part of the tree. If I aimed right, I might hit the second part of the tree.
Nine out of 10 guys on the PGA Tour chip out sideways, said Garcias caddy, Jerry Higginbotham.
But Sergio decided his only hope was to go for the flag. Taking a 6-iron, he swung viciously and connected, closing his eyes and falling back on one foot. As the ball was shooting off towards the green, Garcia ran down the fairway, leaping high in the air for a better look. The ball reached the green and died 25 feet from the flag. He very nearly birdied the hole, but his putt just grazed the edge.
Woods bogeyed the 16th to drop the lead again to one shot, but that was how it remained. He made a clutch eight-footer for par on the 17th, then parred the 18th before clenching his fist and exhaling. Tiger had won a major that will always be remembered.
More PGA Championships of the Past
Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59
Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.
While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.
He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.
"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."
Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.
"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."
Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot
When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.
Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.
"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"
The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.
Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.
"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."
DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate
World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.
Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.
"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."
Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.
Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.
"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."
Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.
"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."
LPGA lists April date for new LA event
The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.
When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.
The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.
The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.