Sergio Garcia apologizes for Augusta remarks

By Associated PressApril 14, 2009, 4:00 pm
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AUGUSTA, Ga. ' Its one thing to navigate the 7,435 yards at Augusta National in the final round of the Masters, a harrowing ride of birdies and bogeys with the pressure of a green jacket riding shotgun.
 
Even more dangerous might be the 100 yards between the 18th green and the clubhouse.
 
Thats where Fuzzy Zoeller had stopped toward the end of the 1997 Masters when he jokingly suggested that Tiger Woods not serve fried chicken and collard greens at the Champions Dinner, a quip that ruined his career.
 
Geoff Ogilvy left the course last year complaining that Augusta National had become too hard.
 
That walk when youve had a 74 or whatever, and you walk from the 18th green to the clubhouse, its generally a poor time to get an objective answer, Ogilvy said. If you had asked me half an hour after I finished, I probably would have been a little more politically correct with the answer.
 
Sergio Garcia closed with a 74 on Sunday.
 
He almost made it the clubhouse.
 
Thats when the Golf Channel stopped him for a comment, and Garcia wasnt exactly in politically correct mode.
 
I dont like it, to tell you the truth, he said. I dont think its fair, and its just too tricky. Even when its dry, you still get mud balls in the middle of the fairway. Its just too much of a guessing game.
 
Mud on the ball two days after a big storm?
 
That should sound familiar, for it might be what cost Kenny Perry the Masters. He found a splotch of mud on the side of his ball at No. 10 in the playoff, which contributed to a shot sailing even farther left of the green, leading to bogey. Despite the devastating feeling, Perry never used that as an excuse. He should get a green vest for being gracious in defeat.
 
Garcia, a passionate Spaniard, certainly is entitled to his opinion. He might not have been alone in his complaint. But when the Golf Channel followed with an appropriate question ' What would he like to see changed?' he showed his petulant side.
 
I dont care, Garcia said. They can do whatever they want. Its not my problem. I just come and here and play, and then go home.
 
This is not the first tantrum Garcia has thrown at a major.
 
After shooting a 74 in the second round of the 2002 U.S. Open in a steady rain, he blistered the USGA for not stopping play. If Tiger Woods would have been out there, it would have been called, he said.
 
After losing in a playoff in the 2007 British Open at Carnoustie, he said he was playing against more than just the field, suggesting that he also had to face the golfing gods. I should write a book on how to not miss a shot in the playoff and shoot 1 over, he said.
 
The difference this time is that he apologized.
 
And thats a good step for Garcia.
 
Following my final round at the Masters, I made comments in an interview that I regret and want to apologize for, he said in a statement released by his managers at IMG. Out of frustration, I blamed the golf course instead of putting the blame where it belongs, on myself. I didnt get it done this week. Augusta National is one of the most iconic golf courses in the game and playing in the Masters each year is an honor. I apologize to the members of Augusta National and the fans who rightfully treasure this golf course.
 
Lets see a show of hands for anyone who has heard Garcia use the word iconic.
 
Garcia was the first European to be low amateur in his Masters debut 10 years ago, but he has never figured this place out. He had missed the cut in three of his previous four trips, and his expectations were low.
 
My putting doesnt feel great, and probably my head is not beautiful at the moment, he said on the eve of this Masters.
 
But he showed fine form during that Sunday walk to the clubhouse.
 
If his comments werent strong enough, the Golf Channel followed that with an interview from his arch rival, Padraig Harrington, one of the classiest players in the game. Harrington would prefer to have to make pars instead of birdies at Augusta National, but when told of Garcias comments, his first reaction was shared by many.
 
Im baffled, Harrington said. I think the golf course is fantastic. I like it when its difficult; obviously, it wasnt difficult this week, it was as easy as its ever going to be. But I like the idea that the tournament committee has control of the golf course, the setup, for whatever scoring they want.
 
I expect to come back in another couple of years and be tested on the other end of things, where par is going to be the winning score, he said. It just shows what a great golf course this is, that they can really dictate how were going to play it.
 
This from a man who was going after a third straight major championship.
 
Garcia is still searching for his first one, and his behavior Sunday under the live oak tree raised questions whether that will ever happen. He is No. 3 in the world, and that has nothing to do with math. Garcia has immense talent. Even his adversaries would say that Garcia winning a major is more a matter of when than if.
 
But the whining has to stop, and the sooner the better.
 
His next major is the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black. The last time Garcia was there, the New York crowd hassled him for constantly regripping and waggling the club. Garcia responded by pointing to them, using the wrong finger.
 
Seven years later, not much has changed.
 

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    Watch: Tiger 'drops mic' in long drive contest

    By Golf Channel DigitalMay 20, 2018, 12:44 am

    Tiger Woods is in Las Vegas this weekend for the 20th annual Tiger Jam charity event that benefits his foundation.

    During the tournament on Saturday afternoon, Woods challenged World Long Drive competitor Troy Mullins to a long drive contest.

     

    A post shared by TROY MULLINS (@trojangoddess) on May 19, 2018 at 1:25pm PDT

    Safe to say it looks like Tiger won.

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    Sunday showdown for Wise, Leishman at Nelson

    By Will GrayMay 19, 2018, 11:40 pm

    DALLAS – While the swirling Texas winds may still have their say, the AT&T Byron Nelson is shaping up to be a two-horse race.

    With a four-shot gulf between them and their closest pursuers, co-leaders Marc Leishman and Aaron Wise both stepped up to the microphone and insisted the tournament was far from over. That it wouldn’t revert to a match-play situation, even though the two men didn’t face much pressure from the pack down the stretch of the third round and have clearly distanced themselves as the best in the field through 54 holes.

    But outside of an outlier scenario or a rogue tornado sweeping across Trinity Forest Golf Club, one of the two will leave with trophy in hand tomorrow night.

    That’s in part because of their stellar play to this point, but it’s also a byproduct of the tournament’s new and unconventional layout: at Trinity Forest, big numbers are hard to find.

    Even with the winds picking up during the third round and providing the sternest challenge yet, the field combined for only 16 scores of double bogey, and nothing worse than that.


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    There’s irony in a course called Trinity Forest offering a tree-less test, sure, but there are also no water hazards in play here. For the most part, players have been maxing out with bogey – and Leishman and Wise have combined for only six of those so far this week.

    If someone from the chase pack is going to catch them, the two sharing the pole position aren’t going to do them any favors.

    “I don’t really want to give them a chance,” Leishman said. “I’d love to go out and shoot a low one and make Aaron have to shoot a good score tomorrow to beat me, which, I fully expect him to shoot a good score.”

    While Leishman has been somewhat of a late bloomer on the PGA Tour, with only one win across his first eight seasons, he now has a golden opportunity to add a third trophy in the last 14 months. He has felt right at home on a sprawling layout that reminds him of a few back in his native Australia, and he’s part of a Down Under invasion on a leaderboard that also includes Matt Jones (-13) and Adam Scott (-9).

    While Wise briefly held sole possession of the lead, Leishman has seemingly held an iron grip on the top spot since opening his week with a blistering 61.

    “Before last year, I was a pretty slow starter. I always got off to a slow start Thursday, or I’d be fighting to make the cut and have a good weekend to slide into the top 10,” Leishman said. “Getting into that round straight away on the first tee rather than the ninth green or something, which sounds like a really basic thing, but it’s something I didn’t do very well until last year.”

    But as Leishman acknowledged, he likely can’t count on a stumble from Wise to help finish off a wire-to-wire victory. As the youngest player to make the cut this week, Wise is facing a challenge of taking down a top-ranked Aussie for the second time in as many starts.

    While he came up short at the Wells Fargo Championship, tying for second behind Jason Day, he remains supremely confident that he can put those hard-earned lessons to use this time around.

    “I feel like it’s a great opportunity,” Wise said. “It will obviously be a huge day for me. I feel like having one go at it already, I’m a little more confident going into it this time.”

    Even among the landscape of the Tour’s promising next wave, Wise stands out as a particularly young gun. Still only 21, he could feasibly be heading to Karsten Creek next week with his Oregon Duck teammates to close out his senior season with another NCAA championship appearance.

    But Wise turned pro after winning the NCAA individual title as a sophomore, and he steadily worked his way through the professional ranks: first a win on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada, then one last summer on the Web.com Tour.

    Now he’s poised to turn what he described as a “lackluster” season before his Quail Hollow runner-up into one that defies even his own expectations.

    “Absolutely, I am way ahead of the curve. It’s pretty hard to do what I’ve done at such a young age. Only a few have done it,” Wise said. “I feel like I’m getting some great experience for a kid this young. It’s only going to serve me well down the road.”

    An unpredictable Coore-Crenshaw layout will have one more day to star, and outside of Wise the top six names on the leaderboard have at least one Tour win to their credit. But after the two men traded punches on a firm and fast afternoon, it sure feels like the final round is shaping up to offer more of the same.

    For Leishman, it’s a chance to add another notch to some quickly expanding credentials; for Wise, it’s an opportunity to win on the one level he has yet to do so.

    “It’s golf, at the end of the day. If you play better than everyone else, you’re going to win,” Wise said. “That’s why I play it. That’s why I love this sport, and tomorrow is nothing different.”

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    5 thoughts from NCAA Women's Championship Day 2

    By Ryan LavnerMay 19, 2018, 11:35 pm

    The field is almost halfway through stroke-play qualifying at the NCAA Women’s Championship. Here are some thoughts on the first two days at Karsten Creek:

    1. UCLA is on a mission. Just a year ago, the Bruins were headed home from regionals after becoming the first No. 1 seed that failed to advance out of the qualifying tournament. This year, with the core of the team still mostly intact, the Bruins have opened up a five-shot lead on top-ranked Alabama and a comfortable 16-shot cushion over Southern Cal in third place. On one of the most difficult college courses in the country, UCLA has received contributions from all four of its usual counters – standout Lilia Vu shot 68 on Saturday, while Mariel Galdiano posted a 69. Freshman Patty Tavatanakit and junior Bethany Wu also broke par. This is a strong, deep lineup that will pose issues for teams not just in stroke-play qualifying, but also the head-to-head, match-play bracket.

    2. What happened to Arkansas? Riding high off their first SEC Championship and a dominant regional performance, the Razorbacks were considered one of the top threats to win the national title. But entering Sunday’s third round of stroke play, they need to hold it together just to ensure they make the top-15 cut. Arkansas is 32 over par through two rounds. The Razorbacks had shot in the 300s just once this season in the play-five, count-four format. Here at Karsten Creek, they’ve now done so in consecutive rounds.

    3. The Player of the Year race is heating up. With a decent showing at nationals, Arkansas’ Maria Fassi should have been able to wrap up the Annika Award, given annually to the top player in the country. She has six individual titles, plays a difficult schedule and is well-liked among her peers. But through two rounds she’s a whopping 15 over par while spraying it all over the map. If the Razorbacks don’t survive the 54-hole cut, neither will Fassi. That’d open the door for another player to steal the votes, whether it’s UCLA’s Vu or Wake Forest’s Jennifer Kupcho. There’s a lot still to be decided.

    4. Stanford has steadied itself. One of the biggest surprises on Day 1 was the horrendous start by the Cardinal, one of just two teams to advance to match play each of the three years it’s been used to determine a national champion. They were 19 over for their first nine holes Friday, but instead of a blowup round that cost them a shot at the title, they’ve found a way to hang tough. Stanford has been just 4 over par over its last 27 holes. Andrea Lee made only one bogey during her second-round 69, Albane Valenzuela eagled the 18th hole for a 73 and senior leader Shannon Aubert – who has been a part of each postseason push – carded a 74. And so, even with its early struggles, coach Anne Walker once again has Stanford in position to reach match play.

    5. Karsten Creek is identifying the best teams. The top teams in the country want a difficult host venue for NCAAs – it helps separate the field and draws an unmistakable line between the contenders and pretenders. Only one team (UCLA) is under par after 36 holes. Fewer than a dozen players are under par individually. The dearth of low scores might not be the greatest advertisement for how talented these players are, but the cream has still risen to the top so far: Five top-10 teams currently sit inside the top 7 on the leaderboard (and that doesn’t even include last year’s NCAA runner-up Northwestern). This is all any coach wants, even if the scores aren’t pretty.

    Quick hits: Cheyenne Knight, part of Alabama’s vaunted 1-2-3 punch along with Lauren Stephenson and Kristen Gillman, shot rounds of 70-69 to figure in the mix for individual honors. The junior will turn pro after nationals. …  Arizona’s Bianca Pagdanganan made a hole-in-one on the 11th hole Saturday en route to a 68 that tied the low round of the day. She’s at 5-under 139, same as Knight. ... Defending champion Arizona State, which lost star Linnea Strom to the pro ranks at the halfway point of the season, is 35 over par after two rounds. … Play was delayed for nearly an hour and a half Saturday because of inclement weather.

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    Wise (21) makes Leishman (34) feel a little old

    By Will GrayMay 19, 2018, 10:55 pm

    DALLAS – With the final round of the AT&T Byron Nelson likely to take on a match-play feel, Marc Leishman likes his chances to close out another win – even if his opponent makes him feel a little old.

    Leishman, 34, shares the lead at Trinity Forest Golf Club with 21-year-old Aaron Wise, who was the youngest player to make the cut at the tournament’s new venue. The two men will start the final round at 17 under, four shots clear of their next-closest pursuers.

    Leishman played the third round alongside Wise and Brian Gay, and he originally didn’t realize just how fresh-faced his fellow co-leader is.


    Full-field scores from the AT&T Byron Nelson

    AT&T Byron Nelson: Articles, photos and videos


    “He’s a solid player for, I heard this morning he’s only 21. I didn’t realize that,” Leishman said. “I guess I was in high school before he was born, so that’s – I don’t know. You hear guys talk about that all the time but I’ve never said that, I think. Yeah, he’s a good player.”

    Wise won the 2016 NCAA individual title while at Oregon, and he opted to turn pro after his sophomore season. While he could have been capping his senior season with a return to the NCAAs next week, Wise is pleased with the career choice and remains eager for a chance to close out his first career PGA Tour win against a seasoned veteran.

    “I feel like I’m in a great spot for tomorrow,” Wise said. “I feel like I’m getting some great experience for a kid this young. It’s only going to serve me well down the road.”