Sergio Whistles Past Graveyard

By George WhiteJuly 27, 2006, 4:00 pm
That sound you hear by the bedside of Sergio Garcia is the tick-tock tick-tock of the alarm clock. He is 26 years old now, and a major championship trophy still seems as far from his grasp as it did when he turned professional at age 19.
 
He took the podium at the Deutsche Bank Players Championship in Germany this week to explain his latest pratfall. Sergio gets upset at us for always asking about such untidy messes as another botch job at the British Open. But its only because he is a man of such enormous potential, and yet such a paucity of majors (zero).
 
Sergio Garcia
Sergio Garcia recorded his sixth top-5 finish in a major at the British Open.
I felt very good last week, he said about the Open experience, the best Ive felt probably all year. So Im very happy about that.
 
He had worked himself up to the runner-up position after the third round, shooting an impressive 65. But in the finale, it was the same ol same ol, with Garcia imploding like a punctured balloon. Three-putts on the second and third holes consigned him to being just another lonely soul battling to get around Hoylake without a nervous breakdown. After the first tee shot, he presented only the slightest of worries to Tiger Woods.
 
This probably sounds like a harsh judgment indeed to the average competitor. But we arent talking about average here. We are talking about Sergio Garcia. And Sergio keeps doing things that have us thinking he is a major-championship competitor ' only to be followed by the most baffling of stumbles. He is an absolute wizard when it comes to ball-striking, to hitting the ball on the sweet spot every time. But with the putter in his hand, he is an absolute stone mason during those moments when it counts the most.
 
Painfully, it reminds of the 2005 Wachovia when Garcia had a six-shot lead as the final round began, but somehow managed to lose. And after it was finally over, you might have thought Garcia would have felt some remorse. Well, no
 
I felt like it was a great week, he said. I felt like I performed nicely. I shot (73) in the final round on a tough course. It's not like I shot 78. I can only see the positives. That's all it is for me.
 
Its wonderful to have an upbeat attitude when things are their darkest. But I keep thinking, in spite of my profession, how appropriate it might have been if Garcia had grumbled something that sounds roughly like Oh spit when he saw the reporters come running for a comment afterwards. Maybe its about time he got really angry about yet another so-close performance in the majors and just let the entire world see what an angry young man is really like.
 
Sergio, though, is not that way, at least not publicly. And this week, he was still on a high after the Open.
 
I felt very good last week, the best I've felt probably all year, said Garcia. So I'm very happy about that It was a great experience. I really enjoyed it all week. I had a lot of fun. You know, I'm still quite happy about it.
 
Sergio, on the one hand, is to be commended for not letting what happened in the past get him down. He is positively ebullient, and he gets miffed when the questioners queries seem a little too negative.
 
But he isnt the bright-eyed kid any longer. He isnt that 19-year-old leaping at Medinah to see where his shot from the tree roots landed. Hes 26, and its time the great ball-striking showed tangible dividends in the final results.
 
I wonder at times if Garcia doesnt just say these things to buoy himself up. Tiger does this at times, you know. During those times when the whole world can see that something is wrong with his swing, Woods will bravely insist that its only a shot or two that took a weird bounce. But Tiger is entitled to a little bravado, considering his long list of achievements. Sergio isnt anywhere near those standards.
 
It was a shame because I felt like both putts I hit well, said Sergio of the Sunday nightmare. I hit good putts on 2 and 3, and unfortunately the greens were so crisp and so firm, they kind of both wobbled a little bit. One wobbled a little bit to the right, the other one wobbled a little bit to the left, and they both lipped out.
 
That's the way it is. You can't do anything about it.
 
Well, maybe so. And again, there would be not be a need to write this sermon if Garcia were just another Mr. Average Golfer. But hes not, of course. He has so much talent, so much potential, that he should be mentioned among the top five in the world. Instead, mention him as a favorite for the next British Open and youll get, Well, yeah, guess he could if he gets hot.
 
Sergio has entered his best years, the period from 25 to 35 when most golfers have turned potential into reality and near-wins into wins. Were still waiting. The kid Sergio has turned into the man Sergio. Isnt it about time he stopped feeling good about his putting and turned into a raging beast when one of those missed?
 
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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.