The PGA Championship of 1999 introduced the two front and center ' Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia. How many more big championships will they play before their careers are finally over? If the answer is many, then people will always look back to the PGA at Medinah in 1999 as the first.
Garcia was brilliant as a 19-year-old in the opening round, firing a 66, which tied a Medinah course record. Today was a great day, he said. I think Ive proven myself today.
Woods shot a 67 the second day but couldnt catch 45-year-old Jay Haas, who took the lead when Garcia slipped back with a 73. Woods had a great start, birdieing the first three holes. Basically, it was the start I wanted, he said. I got myself right back in contention. After the halfway point, he stood in third place.
Woods continued his exceptional play the third round, firing a 68 to tie Mike Weir for the lead. However, Garcia had a 68, too, and entering the final day stood tied for third, two behind Woods.
Garcia tried diligently to catch Tiger the fourth round. He knocked a ball in the water the second, but hit a tremendous recovery and made a 12-feet putt to make bogey. He recovered with a birdie at the fifth, but by mid-round it appeared Woods would get to the finish line in a breather.
Through 11 holes, Tiger was 4-under for the day, 15-under for the week, and held a five-shot lead with only eight holes to play. But at No. 12 he three-putted for a bogey after Garcia dropped in an 18-foot putt for birdie at No. 12. Suddenly things got interesting.
A double-bogey five by Tiger at 13th tightened up the match to its minimum ' one shot. Now the big crowd was solidly behind Sergio, sensing an upset. Could it really happen?
Garcia committed a cardinal sin when he bogeyed a par-5, the 15th. At 16, though, came a shot that will surely live in the minds of golf fans everywhere. Sergios tee shot had flown right, landing up against a tree trunk between two roots.
I had a shot, but I had to hit a big slice, Garcia said. The problem was that on the downswing, I could hit part of the tree. If I aimed right, I might hit the second part of the tree.
Nine out of 10 guys on the PGA Tour chip out sideways, said Garcias caddy, Jerry Higginbotham.
But Sergio decided his only hope was to go for the flag. Taking a 6-iron, he swung viciously and connected, closing his eyes and falling back on one foot. As the ball was shooting off towards the green, Garcia ran down the fairway, leaping high in the air for a better look. The ball reached the green and died 25 feet from the flag. He very nearly birdied the hole, but his putt just grazed the edge.
Woods bogeyed the 16th to drop the lead again to one shot, but that was how it remained. He made a clutch eight-footer for par on the 17th, then parred the 18th before clenching his fist and exhaling. Tiger had won a major that will always be remembered.
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