Woods forgiving Garcia would stun the world

By John FeinsteinMay 22, 2013, 7:45 pm

Almost everyone has a moment in life when something comes out of their mouth that they wish they could snatch out of the air and stuff back inside. It can be something said to a loved one or a friend in private. For public figures, it often happens with a microphone in front of them when they have to think on their feet.

That’s what happened to Sergio Garcia on Tuesday at the European Tour awards dinner. Golf Channel’s Steve Sands asked Garcia a question in jest about having dinner with Woods at next month’s U.S. Open and the words that came out of Garcia’s mouth: “We’ll have him round for dinner every night. We’ll cook him fried chicken,” can’t be snatched back.

Certain moments – both good and bad – follow public figures through their lives, right to the end. When Tom Kite finally won his major in 1992 in the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach he said, “Well, at least now I know what the first line of my obituary will be.”

That was good news. This is not.

Bob Knight won 902 basketball games, three national championships and an Olympic gold medal. “The chair” incident will be near the top of his obit. LeBron James can win a dozen NBA titles in Miami and no one will let him forget “The Decision.” Bill Buckner was a borderline Hall of Fame baseball player. His error in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series is in the first sentence of any story written about him – even though the game had already been tied.

Fuzzy Zoeller’s “fried chicken and collared greens” comment in 1997 will be right there in the first two paragraphs with his two major championships someday. Woods can win 100 major titles and his marital infidelities in 2009 will follow him if he lives to 2109.

That’s life. And legacy. Now, Garcia has his very unfortunate legacy and, no matter how often he apologizes, no matter how sincere he may be, it isn’t going away. Not now. Not soon. Not ever.

That doesn’t mean he shouldn’t apologize. He should do so in person to Woods because it is the right thing to do. The remark was, as he put it, 'stupid' and mean. Unlike Zoeller, who wasn’t being malicious, just remarkably insensitive, Garcia seemed malicious because, as everyone knows, he and Woods can’t stand one another.

One of the sadder aspects of all this – from Garcia’s point-of-view – is that he was holding his own with Woods in the verbal sparring match that began during the third round of The Players Championship. He’d even shown some self-awareness earlier in the day on Tuesday when he said Woods was probably right to call him a whiner.

But then, on Tuesday, he came to his verbal/social/cultural 17th hole at Sawgrass. He didn’t put two in the water, he put about a dozen in the water. And, unlike in the movie “Tin Cup” he didn’t finally hole out. He’s not dry yet and won’t be anytime soon.

Of course, as in all things, there are ways to make some amends. The public apology was a first step; a personal apology should come next. Then some public gestures – even if they will be seen as PR moves – would be both smart and the right thing to do. Maybe a large donation to the Tiger Woods Foundation with the money earmarked for public schools in Washington.

Those sorts of things are the best Garcia can do right now. Woods is never going to truly forgive him, but Garcia needs to try anyway. He might also want to consider some sensitivity training – for his own sake, not anyone else’s. The only good thing about a mistake is that it gives you a chance to think about why you made it. Athletes are always saying, “I can learn from this” in the wake of defeat. This was the biggest loss Garcia has ever suffered. He would do himself a favor if he tried to learn from it.

Woods has now won the battle, just as he won the golf tournament when Garcia melted down on the 17th at Sawgrass a few weeks ago. His initial tweet in response to Garcia’s gaffe was pure Woods: he put a few extra bullets into the body while it’s still twitching. He’s entitled to do that.

Now though, Woods has another great opportunity. He should, at least publicly, accept Garcia’s apology. He should say something like “God knows I’ve made mistakes in my life that I regret. I’ve asked people to forgive me and been fortunate that so many people have done so. Sergio’s asked me to forgive him. I told him I hope we can start again on Square 1 and show one another the respect – on and off the golf course – that all of us would like to have.”

That would be game, set, match Tiger.

In all likelihood, the thought of letting Garcia off the mat a little won’t cross Woods’ mind now. And, if it does cross the mind of his agent or PR person, they aren’t likely to voice it to their boss. Imagine it though: Tiger the Magnanimous. It would be the most stunning thing Woods has done since he made the putt on 18 at Torrey Pines in 2008 to force the U.S. Open playoff with Rocco Mediate.

And there would be one huge difference: No one was surprised when Woods made that putt. Almost everyone would be shocked if he made this gesture.

Garcia just left him with a tap-in to win a major that could have more meaning than any victory already on his resume.

Knock it in Tiger.

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Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

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Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

He's making his first start in the event.

''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.