Pep Rally

By Jay CoffinJuly 17, 2009, 4:00 pm
135th Open Championship TURNBERRY, Scotland ' Sergio Garcia walked down the eighth fairway, put his arm on Tom Watsons shoulder and said what any young man would say to someone who is 30 years his senior.
 
Come on old man, get it going, Garcia jabbed.
 
Today Im an old man playing like an old man, was Watsons retort.
 
Remember yesterday, Garcia responded, Its time to get going.
 
Tom Watson
Tom Watson celebrates his birdie putt on the 18th hole Friday. (Getty Images)
Although Garcia doesnt want credit for the pep talk, it was exactly what Old Tom Watson needed to hear. He had just made bogey on five of the previous six holes and was looking every bit the aging veteran, not the man who turned back the clock a day earlier with a sizzling 65 at his beloved Open Championship. Eighty was looking like a realistic score at the time.
 
Then Watson made birdie from 25 feet on the ninth hole and something clicked. He had a calm about him that he hadnt felt since a first-hole birdie and he realized that the final nine holes would be played into a helpful wind. A birdie from 15 feet on the 11th followed.
 
Just 24 hours earlier it was Watson who said, It doesnt feel a whole lot out of the ordinary from 32 years ago except that I dont have the confidence in my putting that I had 32 years ago. But, again, a few of them might go in.
 
Did they ever.
 
While seemingly everyone at Turnberry was fixated on Tiger Woods teetering on the cut line, it was the other T.W. who was making magic.
 
Watson dropped a bomb from 75 feet on the 16th hole after hitting a 7-iron to the back of the green. Though not nearly as long, he drained a 45-footer for birdie on the 18th that was more significant because he shot 70 to tie for the lead with Steve Marino at 5-under 135. Watson unleashed a neat little fist-pump with his leg raised and the Scottish faithful erupted into a glorious roar only reserved for legends.
 
I just had a feeling I was going to make that putt [on 16], Watson said. And at 18 I kind of had the same feeling. I said, If I can make it at 16, why cant I make it here at 18? And sure enough, it went in.
 
Garcia was in the midst of a solid round himself and admitted that he got goose bumps on the 16th and 18th holes when Watson sank both birdies.
 
He stayed tough and it was great to see, said Garcia, his sense of the occasion showing clearly on his face. I enjoyed our time together.
 
This is getting to be heady stuff. One year after a 53-year-old Greg Norman took the lead into the final round at Royal Birkdale, a 59-year-old Tom Watson is in pursuit of his sixth Claret Jug and leads at the midway point?
 
Speilberg cant come up with stuff like this.
 
What would the movie trailer say?
 
Past-his-prime 59-year-old returns to the site of his greatest victory 32 years later, shoots an opening-round 65, struggles at the start of the second round but rebounds by making bombs all over the coast of the Firth of Clyde.
 
No one would buy it.
 
The day began with more questions than there were answers. How is it possible for Watson to play well enough to stay in contention? How will the difficult conditions affect him? Can he make enough crucial putts? At what point will that suspect putting stroke leave him?
 
It seemed like Watson answered some of the questions on the first hole when he hit a pitching wedge to 22 feet. The ball wasnt more than 10 feet off Watsons putter when he started walking toward the hole in celebration of the birdie. He knew he had hit a money putt.
 
The bogeys on Nos. 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7 werent from poor shots as much as they were from a combination of the wind and poor putting. Then Garcia delivered his pep talk and, presto, Old Tom turned into Young Tom.
 
I guess the memories are with me, all the wonderful memories Ive had playing links golf, Watson said. Walking down the fairways, walking up onto the greens, people showing their respect for me, showing my respect for them. Its a fabric of my life.
 
You can try to dissect it numerous ways but the bottom line is that 59-year-old Tom Watson shares the 36-hole lead at the Open Championship at Turnberry.
 
Whats next?
 
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    Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

    Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

    Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

    “I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

    The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

    “I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

    Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

    This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

    The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

    Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

    The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.


    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


    A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

    And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

    The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.


    Masters victory


    Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

    Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

    Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative


    Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ


    Green jacket tour

    Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

    Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

    Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket


    Man of the people


    Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

    Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

    Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief


    Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together


    Ace at 17th at Sawgrass


    Growing family

    Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

    Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018


    Departure from TaylorMade


    Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade


    Squashed beef with Paddy

    Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

    Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'


    Victory at Valderrama


    Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

    Getty Images

    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm
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    Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

    By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

    Well, this is a one new one.

    According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

    “No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

    Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

    “If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

    The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

    “I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

    The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

    Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

    Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.