Garcia Wins PLAYERS in Playoff

By Associated PressMay 11, 2008, 4:00 pm
2007 THE PLAYERSPONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Sunday at Sawgrass felt tougher on Sergio Garcia than what he faced last summer at the British Open, a playoff loss that seemed to define a career filled with more talent than trophies.
 
He was tormented by a suspect putter. He heard questions whether he could win a big one.
 
All that changed in the final hour of THE PLAYERS Championship thanks to two clutch putts, a wedge that found safety on an island and a playoff victory that Garcia desperately needed.
 
The best player without a major got the next best thing, making a 7-foot par putt that put him in a playoff, then beating Paul Goydos on the notorious island-green 17th with a wedge into 4 feet and a putt he could afford to miss after Goydos hit into the water.
 
It feels like a major, and it tests you like a major, Garcia said. Im so thrilled to be here standing with the trophy.
 
It was a long time coming.
 
Garcia was in the longest victory drought of his career, stretching over three years and 53 starts on the PGA TOUR. Motivated by criticism of his putting, he rolled in one critical putt after another, none bigger than a slippery par putt on the final hole for a 1-under 71.
 
It put him in a playoff when Goydos missed a 15-foot par putt in the final group behind him.
 
The first playoff in 21 years at The Players didnt last long. Goydos, hitting first, watched helplessly as a gust caused his wedge to balloon into the cloudy skies and land with a splash a few feet in front of the green.
 
Garcia, with no margin for error, followed with a wedge that landed on the green, caught a slope and stopped 4 feet away. He missed the birdie putt, but it didnt matter.
 
Goydos wound up with a double bogey and a horrible coincidence.
 
There were 65 balls hit into the water during the tournament. Goydos was the first to deposit one in the opening round Thursday, and the last at the worst possible time in a sudden-death playoff.
 
For a guy with only two victories in his career, Goydos was abundantly gracious in defeat.
 
Look at the shot Sergio hit in the playoff, Goydos said. I got beat. I played good golf. That doesnt mean you win. Theres no defense. I cant tackle the little guy. Theres no knee-capping. You have to accept the guy beat me.
 
They key is to have the lead with no holes to go.
 
Garcia and Goydos each finished at 5-under 283.
 
The 28-year-old Spaniard, whose seven PGA TOUR victories are the most by players under age 30, earned $1.71 million from the richest purse in golf and again enters the conversation as a major contender with the U.S. Open a month away.
 
The goal is to keep getting better, and the only thing this tells me is to keep working hard and to believe in myself, Garcia said. And when I do believe in myself, I think theres not a lot of guys out there that can beat me.
 
Im looking forward to keep going. I dont want to get stuck here.
 
The consolation for Goydos was $1.026 million for second place, more than he earned for winning the Sony Open last year. And he felt no shame losing to Garcia, whom he raved about earlier in the week as one of the top talents in the game.
 
Hes right there on the precipice of great things, Goydos said.
 
Jeff Quinney had a chance to join the playoff. He went bogey-free for 10 holes in gusts that topped 40 mph at times, but failed to save par from a bunker behind the 18th green and had to settle for a 70 and third place alone, one shot behind.
 
Garcia never needed a victory so badly.
 
He had a 10-foot putt to win the British Open at Carnoustie last summer, then lost in a playoff to Padraig Harrington. No club troubled him more than the putter, and this week on the TPC Sawgrass was no exception.
 
Garcia took 124 putts in regulation, 18 more than Goydos.
 
But he sure came up big in the final round, rolling in a collection of par putts that kept him in the hunt, birdie putts that challenged Goydos and a par on the 18th hole that made this victory possible.
 

Sergio Garcia, of Spain, waves
 
Two of them stood out for the Spaniard.
 
One came on the par-3 17th in regulation, when Garcia lagged a 45-foot putt from the fringe to 3 feet for par. Miss it and he falls two shots behind with one hole to play. It was slick, and he poured it in the heart.
 
The longest 3 feet Ive ever seen, Garcia said.
 
The other came on the 18th after a tee shot into the right rough left him no chance to reach the green. He came up 50 yards short, his pitch ran by the hole and Garcia was discouraged to see it roll so far by. Those are the putts he hasnt made.
 
But he felt a strange sense of calm, knowing he was going to make the par, and he did.
 
I was so happy to see that putt go in, he said.
 
Playing for the first time in his career with a 54-hole lead, Goydos battled to keep it. He made two unlikely birdies, a 50-foot putt on No. 4 and chipping in from 100 feet on No. 10, and led by three shots with five holes to play.
 
But a two-shot swing on the 14th set up the finish. Garcia rolled in a 45-foot birdie putt, while Goydos approach came within inches of hitting the flag, bounding over the green. He missed a 10-footer for par.
 
The wind was relentless, stronger than it had been all week, turning the Stadium Course into a terror.
 
It might have been worse except that tour officials did not cut the greens and applied a double dose of water. That didnt keep Jesper Parnevik from posting an 85, the highest score at TPC Sawgrass in five years. It was one of nine rounds in the 80s, but not the most damaging. Kenny Perry, who started the final round one shot behind, shot 81.
 
Defending champion Phil Mickelson knew what he was up against early. Walking from the putting green to the first tee, a gust blew his cap off his head and sent it tumbling into the pond. Lefty hooked his opening tee shot into a mound and three-putted for double bogey, and his hopes of being the first repeat winner ended with a 3-foot birdie he missed on No. 11 and a tee shot into a palmetto bush on the 12th.
 
He closed with a 78.
 
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    Murray fixes swing flaw, recovers momentum

    By Associated PressApril 20, 2018, 2:24 am

    SAN ANTONIO - Grayson Murray fixed a flaw in his swing and hit the ball well enough that blustery conditions weren't an issue for him Thursday in the Valero Texas Open.

    Coming off a missed cut at Hilton Head last week, Murray made seven birdies for a 5-under 67 and a one-shot lead. His only mistake was a double bogey from a greenside bunker on the par-3 seventh hole.

    ''Just the fact I did give myself enough opportunities today for birdie, it took a lot of pressure off,'' Murray said.

    Of the five players at 68, only Chesson Hadley played in the morning side of the draw, and he called it among his best rounds of the year because of gusts. The wind died in the afternoon and scoring improved slightly on the AT&T Oaks Course at the TPC San Antonio. Keegan Bradley, Ryan Moore, Billy Horschel and Matt Atkins each posted 68. Horschel and Moore played bogey-free.

    ''Struck the ball really well, something that we've been working hard on,'' Horschel said. ''Could have been better, yeah. I didn't really make anything out there today. But I'm happy with it.''

    Sergio Garcia, who consulted Greg Norman on the design of the course, played the Texas Open for the first time since 2010 and shot a 74. Adam Scott failed to make a birdie in his round of 75. Scott is at No. 59 in the world and needs to stay in the top 60 by May 21 to be exempt for the U.S. Open.

    Harris English was in the group at 69, while two-time Texas Open champion Zach Johnson, Nick Watney and Brandt Snedeker were among those at 70. Johnson saved his round by going 5 under over his final five holes, starting with a 12-foot eagle putt on the par-5 14th hole. He birdied the last three.


    Full-field scores from the Valero Texas Open

    Valero Texas Open: Articles, photos and videos


    Murray was coming off a pair of top 15s at Bay Hill and the Houston Open when his game got away from him last week in the RBC Heritage, and he shot 74-70 to miss the cut. He got that sorted out in the five days between teeing it up in San Antonio.

    He said he was coming down too steep, which meant he would flip his hands and hit a sharp draw or pull out of it and hit it short and right.

    ''I was hitting each club 10 yards shorter than I normally do, and you can't play like that because your caddie is trying to give you a number and a club, and you keep hitting these bad shots or keep coming up short,'' Murray said. ''I got back to the basics with the setup and the takeaway, got my club in a better position at the top, which kind of frees my downswing. Then I can start going at it.''

    Even so, Murray thought he wasted his good start - three birdies in his first six holes - when his bunker shot at No. 7 came out with no spin and rolled off the green into a deep swale. He hit his third short to about 7 feet, but missed the putt and took double bogey.

    ''I would have loved to limit that to a bogey because bogeys don't really kill you - doubles are the ones that now you've got to have an eagle or two birdies to come back with, and out here it's kind of tough to make birdies,'' Murray said. ''But I kept my head. My caddie keeps me very positive out there, that's why I think we could finish 4 under the last nine holes.''

    Only 34 players in the 156-man field managed to break par.

    Horschel missed four birdie chances inside 18 feet on the back nine. What pleased him the most was the way he struck the ball, particularly after his tie for fifth last week at the RBC Heritage. Horschel was one shot behind going into the last round and closed with a 72.

    But he's all about momentum, and he can only hope this is the start of one of his runs. Horschel won the FedEx Cup in 2014 when he finished second and won the final two playoff events.

    ''I'm a big momentum player. I've got to get the train moving forward,'' he said. ''I've always been a guy who gets on a little roll, get that train moving and jump in that winner's circle.''

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    LPGA back in L.A.: Inbee Park leads by 1

    By Associated PressApril 20, 2018, 1:53 am

    LOS ANGELES - Inbee Park's flirtation with retirement is in the rear-view mirror.

    Backed by a large contingent of South Korean fans, Park shot a 5-under 66 for a one-shot lead Thursday in the opening round of the HUGEL-JTBC LA Open in the LPGA's return to Los Angeles after a 13-year absence.

    Showers ended shortly before Park's threesome, including second-ranked Lexi Thompson, teed off at windy Wilshire Country Club just south of Hollywood.

    Using a new putter, Park birdied four consecutive holes on the back nine before a bogey on the par-4 17th. She quickly recovered and rolled in birdie putts on the second and fifth holes to finish off her round.

    ''I never played a tournament outside Korea having this much Korean supporters out,'' Park said. ''I almost feel like I'm playing back home. It's almost like a little Korea.''

    That applies to the food, too, with nearby Koreatown's restaurants beckoning.

    ''Too many,'' Park said.

    The third-ranked Park banished the blade-style putter she used in her Founders Cup victory last month in Phoenix, a playoff loss in the ANA Inspiration and a tie for third last week in Hawaii. She went back to one that feels more comfortable and has brought her success in the past.

    ''Last week was just an awkward week where I missed a lot of short ones and I just wasn't really comfortable with the putter,'' Park said, ''so I just wanted to have a different look.''

    The 29-year-old Hall of Famer recently said she was 50-50 about retiring before returning to the tour in early March after a six-month break. Momentum has been going her way ever since.

    Marina Alex was second. Thompson was one of seven players at 68 in partly sunny and unseasonable temperatures in the low 60s.


    Full-field scores from the Hugel-JTBC Open


    Alex tied Park with a birdie on No. 11. The American dropped a stroke with a bogey on the par-5 13th before rallying with a birdie on No. 14 to share the lead.

    Alex found trouble on the par-4 17th. Her ball crossed over a winding creek, bounced and then rolled into the water, leaving Alex looking for it. Eventually, she salvaged a bogey to drop a shot behind Park. After a bad tee shot on 18, Alex managed a par to close at 67.

    ''I made a lot of the putts that I shouldn't, I wouldn't have expected to make,'' she said. ''I made two great saves on 17 and 18. Kind of got away with some not-so-solid golf shots in the beginning, and I capitalized on some great putts.''

    Thompson returned from a two-week break after finishing tied for 20th at the ANA Inspiration, the year's first major.

    She bogeyed her second hole, the par-4, 401-yard 11th, before settling down and birdieing four of the next eight holes, including the 14th, 15th and 16th.

    ''I changed a little thing that slipped my mind that I was working on earlier in the year,'' said Thompson, declining to share the change in her putting technique. ''I don't want to jinx it.''

    ANA winner Pernilla Lundberg was among those in the logjam after a 68.

    Natalie Gulbis was among five players tied for 10th at 69. Playing sparingly the last two years, Gulbis put together a round that included four birdies and two bogeys.

    Top-ranked Shanshan Feng struggled to a 74 with five bogeys and two birdies.

    The venerable course with views of the Hollywood sign and Griffith Observatory wasn't any kinder to eighth-ranked Cristie Kerr and Michelle Wie.

    Both had up-and-down rounds that included three bogeys and a double-bogey on No. 10 for Kerr and five bogeys, including three in a row, for Wie. Wie, ranked 14th, had a few putts that lipped out.

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    Horschel (68) builds on momentum at Valero

    By Will GrayApril 20, 2018, 12:32 am

    Billy Horschel only ever needs to see a faint glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.

    While some players require a slow ascent from missed cuts to contending on the weekend, Horschel's switches between the two can often be drastic. Last year he missed three straight cuts before defeating Jason Day in a playoff to win the AT&T Byron Nelson, a turnaround that Horschel said "still shocks me to this day."

    The veteran is at it again, having missed five of six cuts prior to last week's RBC Heritage. But a few tweaks quickly produced results, as Horschel tied for fifth at Harbour Town. He wasted no time in building on that momentum with a bogey-free, 4-under 68 to open the Valero Texas Open that left him one shot behind Grayson Murray.

    "I'm a big momentum player. I've got to get the train moving forward," Horschel told reporters Thursday. "I've always been a guy who gets on a little roll, get that train moving and jump into the winner's circle. So yeah, it would have been great to win last week, but it was just nice to play four really good rounds of golf."


    Full-field scores from the Valero Texas Open

    Valero Texas Open: Articles, photos and videos


    Many big names tend to skip this week's stop at TPC San Antonio, but Horschel has managed to thrive on the difficult layout in recent years. He finished third in both 2013 and 2015, and tied for fourth in 2016.

    With a return next week to the Zurich Classic of New Orleans where he notched his first career win in 2013 and a title defense in Dallas on the horizon, Horschel believes he's turning things around at just the right time.

    "Gets the momentum going, carry it into this week, next week, which I've had a lot of success at," Horschel said. "Really the rest of the year, from here on in I have a lot of really good events I've played well in."

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    Three years later, PXG launches new iron

    By Golf Channel DigitalApril 19, 2018, 11:22 pm

    Three years is a long time between launches of club lines, but Bob Parsons, founder and CEO of PXG, says his company had a very good reason for waiting that long to introduce its second-generation irons.

    “Three years ago, when we introduced our first generation 0311 iron, we made a commitment that we would not release a product unless it was significantly better than our existing product,” Parsons said. “:Our GEN2 irons are better than our GEN1 irons in every respect. We believe it’s the best iron ever made, and the second-best iron ever made is our GEN1 iron.”

    PXG’s 0311 GEN2 irons, which officially went on sale today, feature what the company says is the world’s thinnest clubface. They have a forged 8620 soft carbon steel body and PXG’s signature weighting technology. The hollow clubheads are filled with a new polymer material that PXG says not only dampens vibration, but also produces higher ball speeds and thus more distance.

    The irons come in four “collections” – Tour Performance, Players, Xtreme Forgiveness and Super Game Improvement.

    Cost is $400 per iron, or $500 for PXG’s “Extreme Dark” finish. Price includes custom fitting. For more information, visit www.pxg.com.