Sergio - A Young Tiger Four Years Removed

By George WhiteJanuary 7, 2002, 5:00 pm
He celebrates his 22nd birthday Wednesday, this impulsive young Spaniard who last week captured the first tournament of the PGA Tours new year. And theres a nagging suspicion that, before the new year finally ends, we might be talking about a new sheriff in town. Just a suspicion, mind you, but its become at least a blip on the radar screen.
All along, weve believed this is the Tiger Woods era. Tiger is 26, four years older than this kid. At last, there is a kernel of doubt that is beginning to creep in. Could this Sergio Garcia come along and mess things up?
Maybe, as Woods says, this is just a momentary low point that he has been in since he last won on tour at the WCG-NEC Invitational. He did swoop down for a victory in his Williams World Challenge. But dont forget, even Jack Nicklaus had his down periods in 1970, when he finished ninth on the money list after finishing in the top three each of his first eight years; and 1979, his first year without a victory when he was finishing way back in 79th.
Garcia has one glaring shortcoming, and it isnt the fact that he grips and re-grips until you are certain the wrapping will come off in his hands. He lives in Spain, and he refuses to make a permanent move to America. That is bound to affect him negatively, simply because no one has of yet figured out how to cross the ocean seven or eight times in one year and not be out of sorts a little. And it will only get worse.
You know, I love Spain, he told reporters at the Mercedes Championships. Theres more things about that. You know, there are some things family-wise.
Garcia didnt specify what those family-wise things are, but suffice it to say, those things will keep him navigating back and forth across the Atlantic for the foreseeable future. And that probably will spread him out enough to ruin any chance of winning the U.S. money title. He plans to play just enough on the European Tour to keep his card there, but that probably is enough to scuttle any hopes of matching up the American and European money rankings.
Its still an enormous step to hurdle Tiger, however.
I dont think you put anybody as high as Tiger, Garcia said with finality. Thats to start with. Theres a big difference between that. I think what Tiger has done, its unbelievable. I dont think many people can do it.
To say that Garcia has been superior to Woods the past six months isnt saying a whole lot. There are five or six players who have been the striped ones equal of late. Its the future that will be most interesting to look at ' will Tiger pick up once again where he left off, as the greatest player to ever pick up a club? Or were those 2 years just an anomaly and will he now join the pack of simply very good golfers? Will Sergio be the best in the very near future?
Dont ask Sergio. But he does have one thing to say ' It used to be a tour and a guy. Now its becoming a tour again.
For a 22-year-old, hes not bad. No sir, not bad at all. The question is, is he as good as that certain 26-year-old? If not, will he ever be?
Garcia has been up and down, just as Tiger has. Hes had the occasional fits of temper ' just as Tiger has. The difference is, he turned pro at 19 and immediately started playing in Tour events. He has matured under a microscope. Tiger played two years of college golf at Stanford before he decided to go under this harsh spotlight.
One thing Sergio has going for him, though, is that he always seems like hes having fun. Maybe thats not the way to be No. 1. Tiger rarely looks as though hes really enjoying it when hes playing, although he certainly seems to enjoy it afterwards. But Garcia is having fun from the first drive to the last putt.
That hasnt always been true, even for someone as young as Sergio. Thats why my game wasnt able to come out, he says.
But even last year when I wasnt playing well, I was still trying to have fun. You know, Glen (Murray, his caddie) has been great at that. Peter Jacobsen helped me two years ago - he, too, told me a couple of things that really helped. But I think Glen has really been good. He knows the way I like to be to play good golf.

Even on the bad moments, he always tries to keep me there. He always will make a little comment that, you know, will pump me up.
Garcia is now giving caddie Murray his old Mercedes, an SLK 320. Garcia himself won a new one, an SL500, for the win. Bag-toters who have been instrumental in helping their employers win a $720,000 paycheck are deserving of an old SLK 320, Sergio feels.
And here he is, one week after winning at Mercedes and leading the tours money list.
To tell you the truth, I dont think Id be this good if I wouldnt have been that bad in 2000, he confessed, remembering the season when he finished down at 42nd on the money list. I learned a lot of things in 2000. It made my family come even closer than what it was, and that gave me a lot of strength.
You know, everybody has their own little methods of playing golf. You know, maybe I regrip too many times. But maybe amateurs are starting to try it, because it looks to me like its working.
He had to smile at that one. This is the man who sees Tiger way off in the distance, as just a glint in his eye. But the glint just got a little bit bigger. Maybe one day
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Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.