Another major same old questions for Sergio Garcia

By Associated PressAugust 12, 2009, 4:00 pm
2009 PGA ChampionshipCHASKA, Minn. ' Sergio Garcias news conferences at the majors are starting to sound like therapy sessions.
 
There is the critique of his game, usually found to be lacking in some area or another. There are the questions about his psyche, whether golf is as fun as it was when he was that fresh-faced teenager with the cool El Nino nickname. And then, of course, the big one:
 
After that spectacular showdown with Tiger Woods at the 1999 PGA Championship, why has he not won a major already?
 
Sergio Garcia and Tiger Woods at the PGA
Sergio Garcia is still in search of his first major win. (Getty Images)
After 99, I didnt come home and say, 'Oh, because of what I did at the PGA, I should win eight majors in the next six or seven years,' Garcia said Wednesday. No. You try to play your best and give yourself chances and win as many as you can. Sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesnt.
 
Ive had my chances, he added. Unfortunately, I havent taken them, but its just a matter of keep going, keep going at it, and believing that you can do it.
 
Garcia isnt even being mentioned as a factor at this weeks PGA at Hazeltine National (one top-10 finish this year will do that to a guy). Unfortunately for him, this is the 10th anniversary of that duel that seemed to herald golfs next great rivalry for the ages. With his oh-for-the-majors streak at 41 and his membership in the up-and-coming ranks long since expired, no way he could get by unnoticed.
 
Yeah, I would think so, Woods said last week when he was asked if he thought Garcia would have won a major by now. He hasnt gotten over the hurdle yet, but hes been there. Its just a matter of time. Sergio certainly has the talent to do it.
 
Thats part of the problem. If he were any but a handful of players, no one would know or care what hes done in the majors. Stewart Cink certainly wasnt on the clock before he won the British Open, and no ones hounding Paul Casey about his lack of a major title.
 
But Garcia was a phenom, Europes answer to Woods. The Spaniard was just 16 when he played his first major, the British Open, and 17 when he won his first professional event. He recorded the low amateur round at the 1999 Masters, then turned pro at 19. He played eight events his first season as a pro, and had top-10 finishes in four of them.
 
Then came Medinah.
 
He delighted fans by ripping balls through trees, leaping into the air to see where his shots landed and looking like he was having a grand time. He led after the first round, the youngest player to be atop the leaderboard at the PGA Championship since the tournament went to stroke play in 1958.
 
After trailing Woods by as many as five strokes on Sunday, a birdie on 13 got him within three. Following his putt, he turned around, looked back at Woods on the tee and tugged his cap as if to say, Your turn. When his tee shot on 16 sailed wide right and settled behind the knotted roots of a large oak tree, he grabbed a 6-iron, closed his eyes, swung and then sprinted out to the fairway to watch the ball land on the green.
 
When you are a youngster, you dont care about anything, Garcia said. You just play and hit it and find it and you dont worry about missing a fairway here or missing a green there. You just go along like nothing happened. Thats the beauty of it. Thats what we all try to get back.
 
Garcia has been in contention four times since then. He played with Woods in the final group at the U.S. Open in 2002 and again at the 2006 British Open, and with Padraig Harrington at last years PGA. He took a three-stroke lead into the final round of the 2007 British, and needed only to make a 10-footer on 18 to win.
 
Each time, hes fallen short, often spectacularly so.
 
I hesitate to say Im surprised he hasnt, because theres only four a year, and its just a lot of things have to go right for you to win a major, Cink said.
 
That he can be brattier than a 2-year-old without a nap hasnt helped Garcias cause. He whined about rain and supposed unfairness at Bethpage in 02, and gave a middle-finger salute to the rowdy New York fans who nicknamed him Waggle Boy. After falling apart at Carnoustie, he came across as ungracious when he failed to even mention Harrington, one of golfs class acts.
 
He even spit in the cup after three-putting at Doral.
 
I still love playing golf, Garcia said. Obviously I love it more when I play better.
 
By no means has Garcia been a washout. Hes won seven times on the PGA Tour and another 11 events worldwide, and Europe probably wouldnt have dominated the United States in the Ryder Cup all those years without him.
 
But as Phil Mickelson can tell him, its the majors that matter.
 
My game, Ive been working hard on it. Its still not where I would like it to be, said Garcia, who tied for 22nd last week at Bridgestone. Hopefully I can get it sorted out. If I manage to hit the ball the way I know I can hit it and my short game is in good shape, we could have a good chance here.
 
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    Hammer in position (again) to co-medal at U.S. Am

    By Ryan LavnerAugust 14, 2018, 10:37 pm

    PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Cole Hammer is in position to go for a rare sweep in this summer’s biggest events.

    Two weeks ago, Hammer, an incoming freshman at Texas, was the co-medalist at the Western Amateur and went on to take the match-play portion, as well.

    Here at the U.S. Amateur, Hammer shot rounds of 69-68 and was once again in position to earn co-medalist honors. At 6-under 137, he was tied with 19-year-old Daniel Hillier of New Zealand.

    “It would mean a lot, especially after being medalist at the Western Am,” Hammer said afterward. “It’s pretty special.”

    No stroke-play medalist has prevailed in the 64-man match-play bracket since Ryan Moore in 2004. Before that, Tiger Woods (1996) was the most recent medalist champion.  


    Match scoring from U.S. Amateur

    U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos


    On the strength of his Western Am title, Hammer, 18, has soared to No. 18 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. He credited his work with swing coach Cameron McCormick and mental coach Bob Rotella.

    “Just really started controlling my iron shots really well,” said Hammer, who has worked with McCormick since 2015, when he qualified for the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay as a 15-year-old.

    “Distance control with my wedges and all my iron shots, playing different shots, has become really a strength in my game. I’ve really turned the putter on this year, and I’m seeing the lines and matching the line with the speed really well. I think that’s been the key to my summer.”

    A two-time New Zealand Amateur champion, Hillier is ranked 27th in the world. He said that, entering the tournament, he would have been pleased just to make it to match play.

    “But to come out on top, it’s amazing,” Hillier said. “Cole is a really good golfer and has been playing well lately. So, yeah, I’m in good company.”

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    Tee times, TV schedule, stats for Wyndham Championship

    By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 14, 2018, 9:55 pm

    It's the last tournament of the PGA Tour's regular season as the top 125 in the FedExCup points list advance to next week's playoff event. Here's the key info for the Wyndham Championship. (Click here for tee times)

    How to watch:

    Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 3-6PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

    Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 3-6PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

    Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

    Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.


    Purse: $6 million

    Course: Sedgefield Country Club (par 70, 7,127 yards)

    Defending champion: Henrik Stenson. Last year he defeated Ollie Schniederjans by one stroke to earn his sixth career PGA Tour win.


    Notables in the field

    Henrik Stenson at the 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational.

    Henrik Stenson

    • Missed the cut last week at the PGA Championship

    • Six top-10 finishes this year, including T-5 at the Masters and T-6 at the U.S. Open


    Sergio Garcia

    • Eight missed cuts in last 10 PGA Tour starts

    • Currently 131 in FedExCup standings (33 points back of 125th)


    Webb Simpson

    • Five top-10 finishes in this event since 2010 (won in 2011)

    • 56 under par in last five years in this event (best of any player in that span)

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    Faldo: Woods told fellow Masters champ 'I'm done' in '17

    By Will GrayAugust 14, 2018, 7:42 pm

    Fresh off his runner-up finish at the PGA Championship, it's easy to get caught up in the recent success and ebullient optimism surrounding Tiger Woods. But it was not that long ago that Woods even hitting another competitive shot was very much in doubt.

    Six-time major champ Sir Nick Faldo shed light on those darker times during a recent appearance on the Dan Patrick Show when he relayed a story from the 2017 Masters champions' dinner. The annual meal is one of golf's most exclusive fraternities, as only the chairman of Augusta National Golf Club is allowed to dine with the men who have each donned a green jacket.

    Last spring Woods had not yet undergone spinal fusion surgery, and Faldo explained that Woods at one point turned to an unnamed Masters champ and grimly assessed his future playing chances.


    Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    "I know he whispered to another Masters champion, two Masters dinners ago, 'I'm done. I won't play golf again,'" Faldo said. "He said, 'I'm done. I'm done, my back is done.' He was in agony. He was in pain. His leg, the pain down his legs, there was nothing enjoyable. He couldn't move. If you watched footage of him, he couldn't even get in and out of the golf cart at the (2016) Ryder Cup when he was a vice captain."

    But Woods opted for fusion surgery a few weeks later, and after a lengthy rehab process he returned to competition in December. His 2018 campaign has been nothing short of remarkable, with a pair of runner-up finishes to go along with a T-6 result at The Open when he held the outright lead on the back nine on Sunday.

    After apparently even counting himself out, Woods is back up to 26th in the latest world rankings and appears in line to be added as a captain's pick for the Ryder Cup next month.

    "What he's been able to do is unbelievable," Faldo said. "To turn this aruond, to get this spine fusion, it's completely taken away the pain. To have this mobility is absolutely amazing. Great on him, and great for golf."

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    McDowell needs Wyndham result to maintain status

    By Will GrayAugust 14, 2018, 5:56 pm

    For the first time in nearly three years, Graeme McDowell heads into an event with his PGA Tour status hanging in the balance.

    The Ulsterman joined the Tour in 2006, and he has had nearly uninterrupted status since winning the 2010 U.S. Open. But McDowell's two-season exemption for winning the 2015 OHL Classic at Mayakoba only extends through this week, where he will start the Wyndham Championship at No. 143 in the season-long points race.

    McDowell tied for fifth at Sedgefield Country Club in 2016, and he will likely need a similar result to crack the top 125 in the standings and retain his fully exempt status for the 2019 season. While he finished T-10 in Las Vegas in November, that remains his lone top-10 finish of the Tour season. The veteran's best results this year have come in Europe, where he tied for fifth at the Italian Open and finished T-12 at the BMW PGA Championship.


    Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    "I'm trying not to put too much pressure on myself. I feel like it's not a do-or-die scenario for me," McDowell told reporters earlier this month at the Barracuda Championship. "I feel if I was 25 years old without a European Tour card to fall back on, it would be a do-or-die scenario. Certainly trying to put the pressure off, if I don't get myself into the top 125 it's not the end of the world for me. I still feel like I can play a great schedule next season."

    By finishing Nos. 126-150 in points after this week, McDowell would retain conditional status that would likely ensure him at least 12-15 starts next season. He would also still have privileges as a past tournament champion.

    But he's not the only winner from the 2015-16 season whose two-year exemption is on the verge of running out. Fabian Gomez (160th), Peter Malnati (164th) and Billy Hurley III (202nd) all need big results in Greensboro to keep their cards, while Shane Lowry, David Lingmerth and Matt Every all earned three-year exemptions for victories in 2015 but currently sit Nos. 139, 140 and 184 in points, respectively.

    Last year four players moved into the top 125 thanks to strong play at Wyndham, with the biggest jump coming from Rory Sabbatini, who went from No. 148 to No. 122 after tying for fourth place.