Garcias Love of Ryder Cup Shows in Record

By Associated PressSeptember 18, 2004, 4:00 pm
04 Ryder CupBLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- Sergio Garcia stood in the middle of the 18th green at Oakland Hills - twirling the flag above his head, pumping a fist skyward and reveling in another Ryder Cup triumph.
He's the Seve Ballesteros for this generation, a fiery Spaniard who keeps the Europeans pumped up, annoys the Americans to no end with his boisterous antics and takes his game to a different level when he's playing with a team.
'There's nothing better,' he said.
Garcia's love for the Ryder Cup is apparent in his record. He's 3-1-1 in better-ball matches, a perfect 6-0 in alternate shots. The only blemish on his record: an 0-2 mark in singles, which can be rectified Sunday when he goes against Phil Mickelson.
Like Ballesteros, Garcia has a knack for the dramatic, which he demonstrated again Saturday morning by making a seemingly impossible 50-foot putt at the 18th hole.
All he had to do was line up with his back to the hole, knock the ball up on a ridge where it could take a sharp left turn, and provide just the right speed so it could roll downhill and somehow find the cup.
It was only a bogey, a shot with no impact on the match even though Garcia flipped his putter into the air to celebrate. Fortunately, it didn't plunk anyone on the head.
But Garcia proved before his remarkable putt that he's more than just bluster and flamboyant shots. Only 24, he hardly acts like the youngest member of the European side, especially in the better-ball and alternate-shot matches that require camaraderie, teamwork and selflessness.
'It's not about Sergio. It's about Europe,' Garcia said. 'I'm just trying to help my team as much as I can. I just want to play well and get as many points as I can, give my team a better chance to win.'
Garcia has sure done that at Oakland Hills, helping to earn 3 1/2 points in his four matches. Europe is up 11-5 going to the final day, the largest lead for either team since the current format was adopted a quarter-century ago.
That's the way Ballesteros played the Ryder Cup game, going 20-12-5 in his career and flamboyantly leading the Europeans to an improbable victory in 1997 as the non-playing captain.
Seve is still remembered for taking a 3-wood into a bunker at the 18th hole in 1983, somehow managing to put a 250-yard shot out of the sand within 10 feet of the cup. Jack Nicklaus called it 'the finest golf shot I've ever seen.'
Twenty-one years later, Garcia and partner Lee Westwood went to No. 18 during the morning matches all tied up with Jay Haas and Chris DiMarco. Everyone realized the significance. The U.S. team was charging after a dismal first day, threatening to take all four better-ball points.
Garcia drove into the bunker and still wasn't on the green two shots later. Westwood, meanwhile, plugged his second shot in the rough left of the green and faced the difficult task of getting it close to the flag.
As he lined up for his third shot, Garcia suddenly had a thought.
'Hold on, Lee,' the Spaniard said, prompting Westwood to back away from his ball.
Garcia, who was closer to the flag, decided to hit first, hoping to give Westwood an idea of how he could flop the ball above the hole and let it trickle back down the slope.
Good idea. Poor execution.
Garcia flew his shot over the ridge, an embarrassed grin on his face as the ball didn't stop rolling until it was on the other side of the green.
'What were you thinking there?' Westwood quipped.
The Spaniard wasn't done yet.
After Westwood managed to stop his shot 12 feet from the flag, Garcia elected not to pick up. At first, he thought his own putt might be used to help his teammate read his. When Garcia realized that wouldn't work - a different line was required to funnel the ball toward the hole - he putted anyway, figuring a miracle shot might take some of the pressure off Westwood for his par putt.
'I'll just hit it out there and maybe I'll hit the jackpot,'' Garcia thought to himself.
'I just got lucky,' he said.
It didn't even matter than Westwood missed his putt, taking a bogey that halved the match. By the end of the day, the Europeans had a commanding lead, helped along by Garcia and Luke Donald beating Jim Furyk and Fred Funk 1-up in alternate shots.
Now, the visiting team needs only to win three of 12 matches Sunday to retain the cup it has claimed in six of the last nine meetings.
True to form, Garcia couldn't resist taking one last shot before he left Oakland Hills.
'Believe it or not,' he said, a devilish look on his face, 'there are guys who can play golf outside the States.'
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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:

    Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 3-6PM ET; live stream:

    Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream:; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

    Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream:; 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.