Sergio Hits the Shot but Tiger Wins the Crown in 99

By George WhiteAugust 1, 2001, 4:00 pm
Sarazen and Hagen Hogan and Snead Nicklaus and Palmer should we add Woods and Garcia?
 
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
Getty Images

Crocker among quartet of Open qualifiers in Singapore

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 2:20 pm

Former amateur standout Sean Crocker was among four players who qualified for the 147th Open via top-12 finishes this week at the Asian Tour's SMBC Singapore Open as part of the Open Qualifying Series.

Crocker had a strong college career at USC before turning pro late last year. The 21-year-old received an invitation into this event shortly thereafter, and he made the most of his appearance with a T-6 finish to net his first career major championship berth.

There were four spots available to those not otherwise exempt among the top 12 in Singapore, but winner Sergio Garcia and runners-up Shaun Norris and Satoshi Kodaira had already booked their tickets for Carnoustie. That meant that Thailand's Danthai Boonma and Jazz Janewattanond both qualified thanks to T-4 finishes.


Full-field scores from the Singapore Open


Crocker nabbed the third available qualifying spot, while the final berth went to Australia's Lucas Herbert. Herbert entered the week ranked No. 274 in the world and was the highest-ranked of the three otherwise unqualified players who ended the week in a tie for eighth.

The next event in the Open Qualifying Series will be in Japan at the Mizuno Open in May, when four more spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs. The 147th Open will be held July 19-22 in Carnoustie, Scotland.

Getty Images

Got a second? Fisher a bridesmaid again

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:40 pm

Ross Fisher is in the midst of a career resurgence - he just doesn't have the hardware to prove it.

Fisher entered the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a share of the lead, and as he made the turn he appeared in position to claim his first European Tour victory since March 2014. But he slowed just as Tommy Fleetwood caught fire, and when the final putt fell Fisher ended up alone in second place, two shots behind his fellow Englishman.

It continues a promising trend for Fisher, who at age 37 now has 14 career runner-up finishes and three in his last six starts dating back to October. He was edged by Tyrrell Hatton both at the Italian Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in the fall, and now has amassed nine worldwide top-10 finishes since March.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


Fisher took a big step toward ending his winless drought with an eagle on the par-5 second followed by a pair of birdies, and he stood five shots clear of Fleetwood with only nine holes to go. But while Fleetwood played Nos. 10-15 in 4 under, Fisher played the same stretch in 2 over and was unable to eagle the closing hole to force a playoff.

While Fisher remains in search of an elusive trophy, his world ranking has benefited from his recent play. The veteran was ranked outside the top 100 in the world as recently as September 2016, but his Abu Dhabi runner-up result is expected to move him inside the top 30 when the new rankings are published.

Getty Images

McIlroy (T-3) notches another Abu Dhabi close call

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:08 pm

Rory McIlroy's trend of doing everything but hoist the trophy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship is alive and well.

Making his first start since early October, McIlroy showed few signs of rust en route to a tie for third. Amid gusty winds, he closed with a 2-under 70 to finish the week at 18 under, four shots behind Tommy Fleetwood who rallied to win this event for the second consecutive year.

The result continues a remarkable trend for the Ulsterman, who has now finished third or better seven of the last eight years in Abu Dhabi - all while never winning the tournament. That stretch includes four runner-up finishes and now two straight T-3 results.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


McIlroy is entering off a disappointing 2017 in which he was injured in his first start and missed two chunks of time while trying to regain his health. He has laid out an ambitious early-season schedule, one that will include a trip to Dubai next week and eight worldwide tournament starts before he heads to the Masters.

McIlroy started the final round one shot off the lead, and he remained in contention after two birdies over his first four holes. But a bogey on No. 6 slowed his momentum, and McIlroy wasn't able to make a back-nine birdie until the closing hole, at which point the title was out of reach.

Getty Images

Fleetwood rallies to defend Abu Dhabi title

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 pm

The 2018 European Tour season has begun just as the 2017 one ended: with Tommy Fleetwood's name atop the standings.

Facing the most difficult conditions of the week, Fleetwood charged down the stretch to shoot a 7-under 65 in the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, good enough for a two-shot win and a successful title defense.

Abu Dhabi was the start of Fleetwood's resurgence a year ago, the first of two European Tour victories en route to the season-long Race to Dubai title. This time around the Englishman started the final round two shots off the lead but rallied with six birdies over his final nine holes to reclaim the trophy.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


Fleetwood was five shots behind countryman Ross Fisher when he made the turn, but he birdied the par-5 10th and then added four birdies in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 12-16. The decisive shot came on the final hole, when his pitch from the left rough nestled within a few feet of the hole for a closing birdie.

Fleetwood's 22-under total left him two shots ahead of Fisher and four shots clear of Rory McIlroy and Matthew Fitzpatrick. After entering the week ranked No. 18, Fleetwood is expected to move to at least No. 12 in the world when the new rankings are published.