Garcia Becoming Next Mickelson

By Associated PressAugust 12, 2008, 4:00 pm
2008 US Open 81x90BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. ' Sergio Garcia packed his bags and headed for the parking lot at Oakland Hills, leaving behind another season without a major and facing eight long months until his next opportunity.
 
The question is how much baggage he carried between the ears.
 
The PGA Championship was his third runner-up at a major, and it doesnt take much effort to find one moment that could have made all the difference, either a shot by Garcia or by the players who beat him.
 
Padraig Harrington took only 11 putts on the back nine, including three on the last three holes that were a combined 40 feet. Garcia chunked a chip on the par-5 12th that eliminated an easy birdie when he was leading by two. He hit 6-iron into the water on the 16th with a one-shot lead. And he missed a 4-foot birdie putt on the 17th that gave Harrington his first lead all day.
 
Equally painful are memories of a 10-foot par putt last year on the 18th hole at Carnoustie to win the British Open. Garcia missed it by a fraction of an inch, and Harrington went on to win the four-hole playoff.
 
Even as far back as 1999 at Medinah, when he was a 19-year-old rookie trying to chase down Tiger Woods at the PGA, Garcia must wonder how Woods was able to make an 8-foot par putt at No. 17 on a green so crisp it was like putting on dirt.
 
Thats what major champions do.
 
And thats why Garcia isnt a major champion ' at least not yet.
 
The good news for Garcia is that he has gone only 38 majors without winning one. If its any consolation, Tom Kite was 0-for-63 when he won the 1992 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach and passed on the best to never win a major burden to someone else. And while this wont fall into the consolation category, either, Garcia is the youngest player at 28 to be considered the best player without a major.
 
Phil Mickelson was 33 when he ended his 0-for-42 record in the majors with an 18-foot birdie putt to win the 2004 Masters. Fred Couples was 32 when he won his only major at the 1992 Masters, Davis Love III was 33 when he finally won a major at the 1997 PGA Championship and Corey Pavin was 36 when he shed the label as best without a major in the 1995 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills.
 
A major is coming for Garcia. He is simply too talented.
 
But he also has more to overcome.
 
Unlike the others who labored longer than they would have liked to win a major, Garcia is saddled with more scar tissue. How he responds to such negative reinforcement will determine how soon ' and how many ' he wins.
 
Not since Mickelson has a player with so much skill played in so many majors without winning, so they make for natural comparisons.
 
The positives:
 
  • Garcia already has played in the final pairing three times in a major, the same number as Mickelson before Lefty won his first.
     
  • Sunday was the third runner-up for Garcia in a major. Mickelson had three runner-ups before winning his first major.
     
    The negatives:
     
  • Mickelson was 29 when he suffered his first major heartache in the 99 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2, where Payne Stewart beat him with a 15-foot par on the final hole. He was 31 when David Toms beat him with a par on the last hole of 01 PGA Championship.
     
    Garcia is 28 and already has gone through that twice.
     
  • Mickelson was always gracious in defeat. The putts that Payne made on 16 and 18 showed what a great champion he is, Mickelson said in 1999 after Stewart rallied to beat him at Pinehurst.
     
    Garcia still acts as though the world is out to get him.
     
    The opening question Sunday evening was whether Garcia, three shots clear of Harrington when they made the turn, was thinking that he was finally going to capture his first major.
     
    Next question, please, Garcia bristled. Lets keep this as positive as we can, please.
     
    He later suggested that some players ' namely, Harrington ' are more fortunate.
     
    They get in contention in a major and manage to get things going their way, either because they play well or because somebody else comes back, he said. And unfortunately, it hasnt happened to me. I feel like I played well enough to win probably more than two majors throughout my career.
     
    One thing Harrington had in his favor was experience and the ability to make putts under pressure.
     
    No one imagined anyone capable of going 66-66 over the final two rounds at Oakland Hills, although Saturdays rain delay made the greens soft enough to allow such scoring.
     
    Even so, it was the most clutch putting performance over the final three holes of a major since Stewart at Pinehurst No. 2.
     
    Stewart was one shot behind on the 16th hole when he made a 25-foot par putt down the hill. Then came the par-3 17th, where he knocked it to 3 feet for birdie to take the lead. And after finding trouble off the tee and choosing to lay up on the 18th, he hit wedge to 15 feet and made the par putt for a dramatic victory.
     
    His opponent that day was Mickelson, who overcame that to go three straight years winning a major.
     
    Theres hope for Garcia.
     
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    Goal for new world No. 1 Koepka: Stay healthy

    By Will GrayOctober 21, 2018, 1:38 pm

    Last season Brooks Koepka bagged a pair of majors en route to the PGA Tour's Player of the Year award. He started the new wraparound season with an emphatic win at the CJ Cup to reach world No. 1 for the first time.

    But amid the best form of his career, Koepka has a simple goal in mind as he gets ready to turn his attention to the new year.

    "Stay healthy," Koepka told reporters. "That's been the big thing. I need to be healthy to be able to play all these events, play all the majors."

    Koepka's breakthrough year comes despite the fact that he missed four months in the spring, including the Masters, while recovering from a wrist injury. He hit the ground running once he returned, with strong finishes at TPC Sawgrass and Colonial preceding wins at the U.S. Open and PGA Championship.

    Now Koepka has added a third trophy after cruising to a four-shot win in South Korea on Sunday that allowed him to move past Dustin Johnson at world No. 1.

    "I'm 1-for-1 this year, which is nice," Koepka joked about his undefeated record in the new wraparound season.

    Koepka will be in the field next week in China for the WGC-HSBC Champions before putting the clubs on the shelf. With Justin Thomas paving the way by making the goal-setting process more public in recent years, Koepka explained that even after summiting the world rankings he plans to wait until 2019 to adjust his expectations for himself.

    "I keep the same goals through the calendar year," Koepka said. "On Jan. 1 I go to the beach in the morning and go write down my goals and figure them out for the calendar year, but I just need to finish this year off. I've got next week and I would like to, coming out the first week as No. 1, I'd like to play well."

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    Birdie binge for Woodland comes up short at CJ Cup

    By Will GrayOctober 21, 2018, 12:52 pm

    Gary Woodland mounted an impressive rally at the CJ Cup, but in the end even 11 birdies weren't enough to catch Brooks Koepka.

    Woodland started the final round in South Korea five shots behind the new world No. 1, but he made the biggest move of the day amid chilly conditions on Jeju Island. With six birdies over his first nine holes, including four in a row on Nos. 6-9, he briefly caught Koepka at the top of the leaderboard.

    But Woodland bogeyed No. 10, and even with five more birdies coming home to finish a 9-under 63 he still finished alone in second, four shots behind Koepka who closed with a bogey-free 29 to put the trophy out of reach.

    "Yesterday I didn't get any putts to go in, and today I saw a lot of putts go in," Woodland told reporters. "Brooks with the lead, not much fazes him. So you knew you had to make a lot of birdies, and I made a lot today. But I was just too far behind."

    It's the second straight strong performance from Woodland to start the new wraparound season, as he tied for fifth at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia after holding a share of the 54-hole lead. A closing 63 would have gone a long way last week, but he was still pleased to be able to make Koepka sweat a little on a day when even the bad holes resulted from good shots.

    "I made two bogeys on the back and I said, 'Be right' on both shots," Woodland said. "I was just maybe a little too amped up, a little excited. I hit them both perfect. All in all, I would have liked for a couple more putts to go in yesterday and been a little closer going into today."

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    Kang (69) wins Buick LPGA Shanghai by two

    By Associated PressOctober 21, 2018, 9:11 am

    SHANGHAI - Danielle Kang shot a 3-under 69 on Sunday to win the LPGA Shanghai by two strokes for her second career title.

    Kang, who started the final round one stroke off the lead, offset a lone bogey on the par-5 fourth hole with four birdies after the turn to finish at 13-under 275 and hold off a late charge by Lydia Ko, who had the day's lowest score of 66.

    ''I hope I win more,'' Kang said. ''I did the best I can. I'm going to keep working hard and keep giving myself chances and keep putting myself in contention. I'll win more. I'll play better.''

    Ko, who had seven birdies and a lone bogey, tied for second at 11 under with a group of seven players that included Brittany Altomare (71), Ariya Jutanugarn (71) and overnight co-leader Sei Young Kim (72).


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    Carlota Ciganda, who also held a share of the lead after the third round, shot a 73 to fall into a tie for ninth with Bronte Law and local favorite Lu Liu.

    Paula Creamer carded three birdies against a pair of bogeys for a 71 to finish in sole possession of 12th place.

    The tournament is the second of five being played in South Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan in the LPGA's annual Asian swing.

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    New world No. 1 Koepka already wants more

    By Nick MentaOctober 21, 2018, 8:48 am

    If there is a knock on Brooks Koepka, it’s that he’s a little too cool.

    Gary Woodland, who threw 11 birdies at Koepka on Sunday and still finished four shots back, inadvertently captured that exact sentiment after Saturday's third round.

    “You know," he said, "Brooks doesn't seem like he cares too much."

    Woodland meant that there was little anyone in the field could do to rattle the 54-hole leader. (He proved himself right, by the way.)

    But the also comment fits the general narrative surrounding Koepka. That he’s just detached enough for fans to have trouble attaching themselves to him. That he’s just a jock here to cash checks and collect trophies, to kick ass and chew bubblegum.

    But for a few moments Sunday in South Korea, it became clear that Brooks Koepka does care. Crouched on the 72nd green with some time to stop and think as Ian Poulter lagged a bit behind, Koepka finally let a moment get to him. Cameras caught the three-time major champion appearing unusually emotional.

    Of course, less than a minute later, those same cameras caught him yawning. The contrast was almost too perfect. It was as if he knew he had just been found out and needed to snap back into character – which he did.

    He promptly poured in an eagle putt to cap off a final-round 64, to win the CJ Cup by four, and to ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time in his career.


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    “To be world No. 1 is something I dreamed of as a kid,” Koepka said on the 18th green, moments after closing out his fifth PGA Tour victory and third this year. “I don't think this one's going to sink in.”

    What is beginning to sink in is that Koepka now unequivocally belongs in the conversation, the one golf fans and analysts have been having over and over since Tiger Woods fell from golf's greatest heights.

    Who’s the best at their best?

    In the two years between his first PGA Tour win and his first U.S. Open victory, Koepka was touted as having the kind of talent to compete with the game's elites. It took a little while for him to get here, but Koepka has taken over as the latest player to look like he’ll never lose again. Just as it was for Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas before him, this is Koepka's moment. This is his run of dominance.

    It’s a run that will have to end at some point. Every one of the guys just mentioned did cool off eventually. Koepka will, too. Maybe it'll be fatigue, maybe it'll be injury, and maybe it’ll just be golf. This talent pool is  too deep for anyone to remain on top for too long.

    But what Koepka has done this year – in defending his U.S. Open title, in staring down Tiger at the PGA, in claiming the Player of the Year Award, in ascending to the top of the world rankings – is put his name at the forefront of the conversation. If he was unappreciated at times before, those days are behind him. He's already accomplished too much, proven himself too good to be overlooked any longer.

    And he’s far from done.

    “For me, I just need to keep winning,” the new world No. 1 said Sunday. “I feel like to win a few more regular Tour events and then keep adding majors. I feel like my game's set up for that. I've gotten so much confidence off winning those majors where, it's incredible, every time I tee it up, I feel like I really have a good chance to win whether I have my A-game or not. It's something I'm so excited [about] right now, you have no idea. I just can't wait to go play again.”