Notes Tigers Future Garcia Getting Closer

By Mercer BaggsAugust 9, 2005, 4:00 pm
PGA of AmericaSPRINGFIELD, N.J. ' Not even Tiger Woods can know what the future has in store for him. But this he believes: when he can no longer win, he will no longer compete.
Those sound much like the words of Jack Nicklaus, and Tuesday Woods was asked to put himself in Nicklaus shoes and contemplate life as an aging legend well past his prime, and how he might retire.
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods knows there's plenty to smile about concerning his future.
Its like writing my obituary already, he said with a laugh.
What am I going to do? I think knowing me and how I am, my farewell will be very quiet. I dont think anyone will probably know until its done. Im not really going to say anything; thats kind of how I am. Ill just go out and play it. Ill walk in here (the press center) and say, Guys, Im done. Thats probably how Im going to do it.
You know, my whole objective is, if my best isnt good enough to win anymore, Im not playing. I couldnt handle going out there, for me personally, knowing that I played my absolute best and it wasnt good enough to win anymore, because I know what it feels like when I play my best. Ive had some Ws, and I dont know if I could handle that anymore, and its time to move on, time to walk.
Another question posed to Woods in his pre-tournament press conference revolved around how much he likes to tinker with his clubs.
To be honest with you, my lofts, my lie, my length on my irons havent changed since I was 14 years old. So to answer your question, no, he said.
When asked why he doesnt fiddle with the features on his clubs, he responded:
Why? Because they have worked. Ive won a lot of tournaments since I was 14. Im not going to change. But I have changed my 3-wood obviously and my driver over the years and trying to keep up with everybody off the tees. But my irons are still very weak compared to todays standards. They are the standards (of those) back in the '60s. People have that so-called gap wedge; well, my pitching wedge is like 51 degrees. My 9-iron is like 45, and thats like most peoples gap wedges.
A lot of guys pitching wedges are like my 9-iron, so I play with very weak lofts. But they have worked so far.
Sergio Garcia made a name for himself by finishing runner-up to Woods in the 1999 PGA Championship at Medinah Country Club. Ever since then the expectations for him to win a major championship have continued to grow.
Once again, Garcia was pressed Tuesday about the lack of a major title on his resume. And the 25-year-old wasnt too thrilled when the reporter asking the question insinuated that he hasnt come close to winning one since 99.
Well, closer than second is only first, so its tough to come closer than second without winning to start with, he replied.
Second of all, I have been close. Ive been very, very close many times. But unfortunately, things havent worked out. They havent gone my way. Youve got to realize that a lot of these majors, Im contending without really putting well, and thats a tough thing to do.
Garcia, who mentioned that he has been bothered by some pain in his upper back recently, has competed in 23 majors since Medinah and has nine top-10 finishes. He tied for third in this years U.S. Open and tied for fifth in the Open Championship.
Im not too worried about it at the moment, he said, and I just want to focus on keep playing well like I am and hole some more putts and then Ill know that well be there.
Its back to work for U.S. Open champion Michael Campbell. Campbell recently returned to his native New Zealand for a celebratory trip with his family. He said the experience was incredible.
We had a blast. It was fun, he said. We had a ticker tape parade, which means I was on a float on the main street of Wellington and 130,000 people turned up, so it was an incredible reception from my countrymen.
I just needed to do that to close a chapter. Obviously, the last couple of months have been a lot of fun and for me to carry onto my next chapter in my book; I needed to go home and close that chapter. In doing that, that was finishing one and starting another.
Campbell, who tied for fifth at the Open Championship, said his recent success has finally gotten him noticed for who he is by fans outside of his homeland.
People know me now, he said. Ive been called Vijay Singh, Chad Campbell ' thats a bit of a mystery, really, Chad Campbell, Stephen Ames, Omar Uresti. But all of the people here now know me as Michael Campbell, so thats pretty cool.
Padraig Harrington has not had a major championship season to remember. First, he missed the cut at the Masters. He then did the same at the U.S. Open. And then came the ultimate blow, when he was forced to withdraw from the Open Championship due to the death of his father, Patrick, due to cancer of the esophagus.
While Harrington isnt overly confident in the physical aspects of his game at the moment, he feels like hes mentally ready to compete.
Emotionally, it was four weeks (ago) ' and I feel fine about it. Im reasonably comfortable about it all, he said about his fathers death.
Normally when you go to play at a major, you want to have some competitive edge going into it, and Im sort of missing that at the moment. But emotionally, I feel like I want to go and play golf. Im comfortable with the events that have happened and ready to play.
Harrington, who won his first two career PGA Tour events at this years Honda Classic and Barclays Classic, added that he doesnt think he will be overwhelmed with emotion while on the course, unless he happens to be in contention down the stretch.
To be honest, there will be no significance teeing it up on Thursday morning and thinking about my dad, no, he said.
Maybe if I was in contention, there will be an emotional element to it because its been such an emotional year, but thats not ' wouldnt be the worst thing to have to deal with this week.
Phil Mickelson does not consider himself to be superstitious. But that could change this week.
You may see something this week that I havent ever done really, and thats play with a hat. My head got a little sunburned last week, and to keep some of the sun off, I may wear a hat, which I havent done in a long time, he said.
So if he wins, will the hat permanently replace the visor?
You might see that, he said with a laugh. I might become a little more superstitious.
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