Waggle-Free Garcia Hopes to Turn Corner at British

By Golf Channel NewsroomJuly 16, 2003, 4:00 pm
SANDWICH, England (AP) -- The waggle is largely gone.
Now, Sergio Garcia has to find his game.
When the British Open begins Thursday, 'El Nino' will get a chance to witness the best-case scenario for a reconstructed swing -- Tiger Woods is one of his playing partners.
After winning his first Masters title, Woods embarked on an 18-month process to redo his swing, looking for more consistency and less reliance on power and timing. Since then, he's added seven more major titles to his resume.
Garcia hopes for similar results, though he insists this isn't an attempt to keep up with Tiger.
'I don't know if the changes in my swing are going to make me as good as him or better or worse,' the Spaniard said. 'I'm focusing on myself. I did those things because I felt like I had to, not because anybody else did something and it turned out well. It's pretty much my deal.'
The swing transformation has been slow, tedious and frustrating for the guy once poised to be Woods' chief rival. Garcia missed the cut in six of his first 11 events this year, but he's shown signs recently of getting things together.
At the U.S. Open, he opened with a 69, made it to the weekend and finished 35th. In his last PGA Tour event, Garcia posted his best result of the season, a fourth-place finish at the Buick Classic.
Will this be the week he finally breaks through?
'It's getting better,' Garcia said. 'I don't think so much about (the swing change) anymore. I still have to improve a little more, but it's coming along. It's feeling more and more comfortable, so that's why the results are starting to come slowly.'
Defending British Open champion Ernie Els expects Garcia to be a contender again.
'You can't write him off,' Els said. 'He's made changes like everyone else in their careers. Tiger made changes. We all make changes to get better. He made these changes because he wants to get better and more consistent. It's just a matter of time before he's playing his best again.'
There was a time when Garcia's potential seemed Tigerlike.
At 19, he nearly pulled off his first major title, finishing one stroke behind Woods at the 1999 PGA Championship but creating the signature moment of his career.
With 6-iron in hand and eyes closed, Garcia whacked the ball out of the trees at No. 16, then bounded up the fairway like an excited child. As he crested the hill, he leaped in the air to discover his ball safely on the green, winning over the gallery with his youthful enthusiasm.
Garcia still plays with that sort of passion, though some feel it's more show than sincere. He believes it's all part of growing up.
'I've matured,' he said. 'I know how to handle myself better now. I'm more patient. Those are things that really help when you're out on the golf course. It's not easy, but you have to realize that it's just a game and you just give your best.'
That patience has been sorely tested since he began tinkering with his swing and, mercifully, cut out most of the waggling and re-gripping that preceded every shot.
Where Garcia once generated staggering power by dropping his hands in buggy-whip fashion, he now keeps the club parallel at the top and in front of him on the downswing to reduce the lag.
Clearly, the changeover is still a work in progress. If Garcia can pull it off, he'll have a swing that doesn't rely so heavily on timing. Maybe then, the time will be right for that first major title.
'That's one of the goals, no doubt,' Garcia said. 'I'm confident that if I keep moving down this path, I'll win one. Definitely. I'm working hard at it. I just have to be patient and wait for the time. As soon as you win one, then the next one seems a little easier.'
Garcia was certainly rolling the dice when he decided to alter his swing. After all, he was doing just fine the old way, winning nine times around the world and finishing in the top 10 of all four majors a year ago.
He even got to play with Woods in the last group at the 2002 U.S. Open, but a 74 left him six strokes behind the world's best player at Bethpage Black.
Garcia looks forward to another chance to play with Woods. Those two will be paired with Luke Donald for the first two rounds at Royal St. George's.
'I've always said I like to play with the best,' Garcia said. 'I played with Ernie this year at the Masters, and I really enjoyed it. I've always enjoyed playing with great players. That's something I've worked my whole life for, to put myself in position to play with them.'
Not that he'll be watching Woods. The Spaniard has his own game to worry about.
'I really don't care how he's playing,' Garcia said. 'I'll be playing for myself.'
Related Links:
  • 132nd Open Championship Home
  • More Open Championship News
  • Course Tour - The Royal St. George's Golf Club

    Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
  • Getty Images

    Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

    Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

    Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

    Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

    McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

    Getty Images

    Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

    By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

    Memo to the golf gods:

    If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

    Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

    It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

    With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

    It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

    We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

    We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

    Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

    We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

    In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

    While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

    Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

    Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

    Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

    While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

    Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

    So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

    Getty Images

    McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

    By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

    With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

    The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

    Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

    "I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

    McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

    But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

    "I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

    Getty Images

    What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

    Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

    Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

    Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

    Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

    Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

    Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

    Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

    Ball: Titleist Pro V1x