The 1999 PGA Championship

By Mercer BaggsNovember 2, 2009, 10:00 am

Project 99I was there when … the boy wowed, but the young man won.

I was there, standing off the left side of the 18th green at Medinah Country Club, watching as the 23-year-old putted out for victory. I watched as he gave a wearied and relieved fist pump. I watched as he hugged his mother, his girlfriend and his 19-year-old adversary.

I was there at the 1999 PGA Championship, where the Wanamaker Trophy was awarded to Tiger Woods, and the keys to the golfing world seemed handed to Sergio Garcia.

The 81st edition of the PGA will forever be remembered for Woods weathering El Niño. A boy running and leaping like a ballerino, it’s time-stamped image.

But the way in which the week ended, all the smiles and the hugs and the promise, could not have been more contrarian to how it began.

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods celebrates his second career major victory. (Getty Images)

Much of the talk prior to the start of the PGA wasn’t even about the PGA. It revolved around the Ryder Cup and comments certain prominent players had recently made about receiving compensation for participation.

David Duval, then the No. 1 player in the world, and Tiger Woods even referred to the matches as an “exhibition.” To someone like U.S. Ryder Cup captain Ben Crenshaw, you might as well have called John Wayne a wuss or George Patton a commie.

As for the monetary issue, it was Mark O’Meara who had first raised the compensation issue nearly a year prior after Golf Digest reported that the PGA of America netted roughly $17 million for the playing of the biennial competition.

Talk of a Ryder Cup controversy and liberal use of the words “player boycott” drowned out all the other story lines entering the PGA Championship – Woods trying to win his first major since winning his first major; Colin Montgomerie simply trying to win his first major and Jean Van de Velde playing his first major since an epic collapse in his last major.

The focus finally shifted to the tournament on Thursday after Garcia shot 6-under 66 to take a two-stroke lead on a soggy Day 1 in Lemont, Ill.

That score was a 23-stroke improvement upon his opening round performance at the Open Championship, where he shot 89-83 and wept openly in the arms of his mother.

Of course, it didn’t take long before some jackass in the media brought up Carnoustie.

I was said jackass.

“Sergio, what was the difference between the first round here today and your first round in Scotland,” was the innocent question.

“I think the British Open is done, so I don't want to hear any more questions about the Open,” was the defiant answer.

He looked on the verge of tears – again.

Some things never change: Ten years later Garcia is still emotional, still showcases the maturity of a teenager at times and is still without a major title to his credit.

Some things, however, do …

Garcia played a practice round with Woods at Medinah, a sign that the two might cordially compete against one another for years. That’s certainly what Garcia had in mind when he said Sunday evening, “I said when I turned pro that I wanted to be the No. 1 golfer in the world. … I want to be a rival for Tiger, but always being friends like we [were] today.”

Some things change quite a bit.

After a disappointing second-round 1-over 73, Garcia shot 68 Saturday to enter the final round two shots back of Woods and a second-year PGA Tour pro named Mike Weir.

Weir, the reigning Q-School medalist, had never won on Tour. But he sure acted like he had “been there before.” He couldn’t have been more courteous throughout the week, meeting each media request with compliance and a smile.

Even after he shot 80 in the final round to fall into a tie for 10th, Weir was congenial. A semi-circle of reporters, myself included, pressed Weir against the scoring trailer. You knew he’d rather be in Gen Pop than where he was at the moment, but he answered every question in a most professional manner.

“I gave it my best and I didn’t give up,” he said. “Eighty is the best score I could have shot, obviously. I tried on every shot.

“I’ll be back again.”

Three-and-a-half years later he made good on that promise, winning the Masters Tournament.

Not a person with a media badge would have bet that Sunday at Medinah that Weir would have won a major before Garcia – or that a decade later Garcia would still be major-ly deprived.

That Montgomerie is still sans major is far less shocking.

After tying for sixth at Medinah, Montgomerie headed off the grounds in a huff when some jackass dared ask him a question.

Again, I was said jackass.

“Monty, does not winning a major dampen what has been a very good season for you [he had won four times on the European Tour entering the PGA],” was the carefully phrased question.

“No, just for you,” was the very curt response. Turned out, he was wrong: I felt pretty good about him not winning.

Monty’s sullenness – and Weir’s unfortunate 80 – aside, Sunday at the ’99 PGA was a brilliant display of emotion.

What looked like a Tiger runaway, something not seen in a major championship since Augusta in ‘97, turned into a tight contest early on the back nine. Woods bogeyed the 12th hole, his first dropped shot of the day, and then watched on the par-3 13th tee box as Garcia made a 15-foot putt for birdie up ahead.

Garcia looked back at Woods and emphatically pumped his arm.

“I just wanted him to know I was still there and let him know he had to play well to win,” Garcia said of the celebration, adding that he wasn’t trying to show up Woods.

Of course, as we’ve come to learn, you can tell Tiger “good putt” and he’ll perceive it as a slight because you didn’t refer to it as “great.”

Woods never saw Garcia’s reaction, or so he said: “I saw him make the putt and I turned away. I knew what I had to do.”

He just didn’t do it.

Sergio Garcia
Sergio Garcia follows his shot on the 16th hole Sunday at the 1999 PGA. (Getty Images)
Woods airmailed a 6-iron and recorded a double bogey. The lead was now one.

It remained that way as Garcia stood in the right rough on the 16th hole, his ball nestled in the knot of a tree root.

Adhering to his favorite slogan, “Suerto o Muerto” – “luck or death” – Garcia violently lashed at the ball with a 6-iron. His eyes closed, his head turned, he never saw the club make contact. With a hill impeding his view of the green as well, he ran up the fairway and leaped with a scissor kick to catch a glimpse of his ball rolling to the back of the green, some 60 feet from the pin.

The crowd exploded. The people were his.

“I hope you don’t shank it in the water,” Woods would later hear from a patron while approaching the par-3 17th.

Garcia two-putted for par at 16 and missed birdie putts on 17 and 18 to finish at 10-under 278.

We later learned that Sergio Garcia being a major challenger to Tiger Woods was merely a myth, born in the legendary happenings on the 16th hole Sunday at Medinah.

We also learned in time that Tiger Woods is the greatest clutch putter in the history of the game. That is a fact, rooted on the 17th hole that same day.

Still leading by one and facing a par putt that could make a dog sweat, Woods, with assistance on the read from caddie Steve Williams, made the 6-foot slider.

He capped his victory with a routine two-putt for par at the last. It was major No. 2 and win No. 11 on Tour.

Ten years later he stands at 14 and 71, respectively.

After hugging Williams, Woods greeted his mother, Kultida, and girlfriend, Joanna Jagoda, in same. Garcia was there waiting to offer another embrace.

“To come out of it on top took everything out of me,” Woods said afterwards. “I just tried to hold him [Garcia] off and did the best I could.”

The 1999 PGA Championship was the first major championship I ever attended. I won’t forget Crenshaw’s anger, Weir’s congeniality, Montgomerie’s boorishness, Garcia’s duality, Duval’s indifference or Woods’ resoluteness.

But in the end, it’s the end that everyone else will always remember.

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Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

 There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.



It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.



Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.



Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.



Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.



After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.



Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

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Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.


Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters


Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.

Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

"I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.