Sergio - A Young Tiger Four Years Removed
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
What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm
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
Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff
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.
Watching Andrew Landry and Jon Rahm in playoff. Walking off tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me ? Talking at all. ?— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.
0 words— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The issue is I don’t want to make you a bit relaxed or comfortable. High pressure, good.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you watch the end of the NFL games yesterday ? Enough said.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
I didn’t say you couldn’t be friends and competitive. But in a playoff, 1 tiny mistake and you lose, and that devastated me. Friends before and after, competitors during play.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you win ? It’s all about surviving the competition to test yourself.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.
Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over
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.
Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions
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.