Garcia still facing questions about Tiger comments

By Jason SobelMay 4, 2014, 8:16 pm

Sergio Garcia doesn't want to talk, which is unfailingly ironic, because talking too much is the very reason he's being asked to talk again on this rainy afternoon in the foothills of Georgia. It is one day after the Masters Tournament ended – and three days after Garcia’s own Masters ended, the result of a missed cut which probably isn't helping his overall mood.

He is being asked to talk because we are quickly approaching the one-year milestone of his infamous public squabble with Tiger Woods during The Players Championship, when Garcia accused him of unsportsmanlike conduct. He said Woods riled up the crowd while the two were paired together in the third round, which disrupted Garcia's shot to the par-5 second. A war of words ensued. Then there was the even more infamous comment just a week-and-a-half later. When questioned at a formal European Tour function about whether he’d have dinner with the multicultural Woods prior to the U.S. Open, Garcia answered, “We’ll have him 'round every night. We will serve fried chicken.”

It was hardly an isolated incident of speaking out of turn. Over the years, Garcia has blamed tournament officials for giving preferential treatment to Woods and the golf gods for giving preferential treatment to, well, everyone but himself.

On each of these occasions, it was talking that got him into trouble. Whereas most professional athletes own a protective filter between their innermost thoughts and spoken words, Garcia has no such filter, which serves as both one of his most endearing qualities and greatest sins. He is unmistakably honest in a role that doesn’t always reward honesty. He is coolly forthright even when his thoughts are best left unsaid.

This time he is being offered a forum. A pulpit on which to preach what he’s learned, how he’s changed and – once again – how much he’d like to echo his apology following that comment. This will be a clear-the-air moment. This will be an opportunity to counsel the world on how he’s evolved, how he understands the need for such a filter, how he’s become a stronger person since the controversy and how he’s found happiness in the wake of such remorse.

This is no sneak attack. His handlers – agents, managers, sponsors and PR wags – have been briefed on the nature of this interview. They understand that he will be given a platform on which to reiterate his thoughts and hopefully, in their minds, put it to rest forever.

Garcia doesn’t want to talk, though. He doesn’t want to relive the past, doesn’t want to answer questions about a situation he has clearly tried to place behind him. He tells the handlers he won’t be discussing this today, no matter the prior arrangement.

But this is his chance to get ahead of the story and address it in a casual setting before the one-year checkpoint, they are told.

He has no interest in recalling any of that, they answer.

But this is his opportunity to get ahead of the expected media crush during Players Championship week and maybe even defer any questions to this interview, they are told.

He knows he’ll only be asked about it again and again, they answer.

And so Garcia doesn’t speak about any of it, at least not in specific terms. Instead, he compromises. He answers questions in generalities – about his career, about his ongoing maturity, about his life.

He is asked how difficult it is to play golf when things are unsettled off the course.

“When you're going through a tough time outside the golf course, there's a lot more things to worry about,” he says. “Which is normal; we all go through those things through life. But it's nice when things are lined up nicely.”

He is asked about being misunderstood by the public.

“I like to be myself; I don't want to be two different persons. Obviously, I think sometimes you say things that either you regret or come wrong at that time. But at the end of the day, like I've always said, I try to be the way I am. I think that's one of the reasons why the people like me.”

He is asked about being too open with his feelings.

“Sometimes being too honest is not the best thing, because even though you're trying to say what you feel or what you think is right, people are not going to see it that way. … I still try to be myself as much as I can and try to present myself as open and honest as I can really be.”

In a way, he speaks about last year’s tribulations without ever directly addressing them.

That probably won’t be the case this week. With Woods, the defending champion, still on the disabled list, Garcia will arrive on the PGA Tour’s home turf Tuesday morning as potentially the biggest story. He won this event in 2008 and nearly did so a year ago before pumping two balls into the water on the par-3 17th on Sunday. Inquiring minds will attempt to uncover how last year’s incidents - particularly of the verbal variety - have impacted him and whether there remain any lingering side effects.

He still won’t want to talk about it – and maybe he won’t, continuing in his decision to not relive the past. He's not slated to give a news conference.

If he does speak, however, expect him to be honest again. This is a personality trait which has stayed with him throughout his career. It’s difficult to believe that will now change.

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After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard

On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

Best of the rest: A two-time winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry