Surprise Sergio Just a Longshot

By George WhiteJune 14, 2005, 4:00 pm
Have we given up on Sergio Garcia?
 
Heres a young man who is only 25 years old. Hes already won six times, including a victory last week at the Booz Allen Classic at Congressional. In 1999 he pushed Tiger Woods to the absolute limit at the PGA Championship before finally being relegated to second place. He stands No. 6 in the world as the U.S. Open readies for play.
 
On the other hand, this is his sixth year as a professional. He isnt mentioned nearly as much as a possible winner in the majors as he was the first three years of his career. Hes been passed on the expectation list by Retief Goosen, Chris DiMarco, even by Phil Mickelson. And his putting, which was better than average his first three years, has been abysmal his last three.
 
Sergio Garcia
Sergio Garcia has yet to strike the pose of a major championship winner.
Garcia says there still is a lot of time, perhaps 25 more years, for him to become the best that there is in the game. He possesses patience in multiples, becoming a little petulant when faulted by others for not leaping into the stratosphere of players already.
 
If I had been sitting there in 99 and you had come to me and said, OK, in 6 years time, you are going to accomplish this ' I would have been happy, of course. To be the sixth player in the world, playing quite well, winning tournaments all over the world ' of course I would have liked to win a major by now, but its not something that bothers me.
 
I definitely would have been happy if you had told me the way it would have been six years ago (in the future.) Its just a matter of getting better.
 
That attitude has frequently been criticized by some who say Garcia lacks the fire to be a major champion. And that criticism is entirely wrong, he asserts.
 
I know, and Ive always said, that I would love to (win a major) ' and I definitely have had my chances. I definitely did.
 
But its not something that bothers me that much at the moment. Fortunately, Im only 25. So if injuries and everything go all right, I should have a lot of time to win a major in the near future.
 
Still, Garcia understands his career has come in stops and starts, zooming to the highest of highs, crashing down to the lowest of lows. Look what has happened just since the Masters, the first major of the year. He missed the cut in that one. He rebounded to play a pretty good tournament at Wachovia, losing in a playoff. He was so-so in the Nelson, finishing in a tie for 35th. He slipped again at Colonial, missing the cut. But last week, he soared to victory.
 
When you come out, of course you never know how its gonna go, he confessed. You always think the best and just pray youre gonna do well.
 
Im not gonna lie to you, as soon as I turned pro in 1999, my goal was to keep my card in Europe, and if I could in America. I managed to do that and win a couple of tournaments (here in the U.S.) And from then on, after winning a couple of tournaments ' unfortunately I was hoping it was going to keep going that way.
 
Since Mickelson broke through at the Masters last year at the age of 33, the mantel of best player to have never won a major has been passed along ' by many ' to Garcia. That title, to many, is infuriating. To Garcia, its a title of respect ' though he certainly doesnt want to keep it forever.
 
I really take it as a compliment, he said. You know, I take the good part of it ' if youre telling me Im the best player to never win a major, it means that I certainly am a good player.
 
I know what I can do, but it certainly is nice to be recognized. But, as I said, Ive just got to wait for it, Ive just got to give it time. The harder you try to force it and make it happen, the harder it is. So Ive just got to let it happen.
 
It has been difficult for him, however, he concedes. It almost seems as though the excellence he exhibited at age 19, 20, 21 and 22 was too much. The almost at the PGA Championship in 99, a big victory at Ben Hogans old course, Colonial, in 2001, a win against the best of the tour in the 2002 Mercedes Championships, a couple of wins at Westchester was it too easy too soon?
 
The last two years I may have tried too hard, he conceded, put on so much pressure and expecting to do well and expecting to have a chance of winning. I know that if I just go out there and play my own game, I am going to have a chance. Because Ive showed it ' Ive showed that I have enough good enough game to have a chance of winning.
 
Unfortunately, that futile effort has exhibited itself too often with the putter, where he currently languishes in 151st place on the tour rankings.
 
Unfortunately, for the past, want to say, three years, it's been my downside, he said. The week where I putt more or less OK and I have a chance of winning or I win but some of the weeks it feels like I can't make putts.
 
Garcia has the flair, and the variety of shots, to make it happen. And if it happens to be a week when the putter is working, it COULD happen. In 2000, it seemed so close. It 2005, it really doesnt. But one good week, one strong major, and it will all come back again.
 
Email your thoughts to George White
 
Related links:
  • Full Coverage - 105th U.S. Open

  • Tee Times - U.S. Open

  • Photo Gallery from Pinehurst
  • Getty Images

    McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger

    By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

    ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.

    The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.

    McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.

    McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.

    ''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''

    Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.

    ''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''

    McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.

    ''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''

    The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.

    ''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''

    The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.

    Getty Images

    Pre-tourney caution be damned: Stenson rides camel

    By Grill Room TeamJanuary 16, 2018, 3:29 pm

    If you were under the impression Henrik Stenson's days engaging pre-tournament hijinks at HSBC-sponsored events were over, then you don't know the Swedish Superman.

    Ahead of this week's HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the 2016 champion golfer of the year decided to have some fun riding (and pretend-spanking) a camel:

    If you can't imagine any reason Stenson wouldn't get on a camel, we will point you to the WGCC-HSBC Champions back in October, when Stenson, Dustin Johnson, Haotong Li and Hideki Matsuyama took place in this hire-wire act:

    Two weeks later, Stenson revealed a rib injury, and a report from the U.K.'s Telegraph stated "that not only was the Shanghai caper to blame, but that Stenson is annoyed about being persuaded to do it in the first place."

    Stenson brushed back at that report in this Instagram post, saying that his "comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal."

    I’m disappointed to have to pre-emptively withdraw from the Nedbank Golf Challenge Hosted by Gary Player, I was looking forward to this important year-end event on the European Tour. At this point I am back home in Orlando waiting to do a scan on my ribs and get the necessary rest. I am still hoping for a quick recovery and have not ruled out playing in Dubai next week at this point. My comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal. The plan as of now will be to participate in the DP World Championship if my body is back to 100%. H

    A post shared by Henrik Stenson (@henrikstenson) on

    And it would appear he genuinely meant those comments, at least enough to get on a camel.

    Getty Images

    Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

    Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

    The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

    Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

    “I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

    Getty Images

    Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

    Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

    Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.