For Sergio Sundays Collapse a Stunning Turnaround
He was even more confident at his day job, building a six-shot lead at Quail Hollow going into the final round, certain that his struggles with the putter were almost over and his best golf was just around the corner.
All that changed in 19 holes.
Garcia made history for the wrong reason Sunday, matching the largest final-round collapse in PGA Tour history before making an early exit from the three-man playoff by missing a 6-foot par putt that never had a chance.
There was quiet shock in his voice, a numb expression on his freckled face as he spoke to a room full of reporters. He stared at his feet, looking up occasionally to answer a question or to glance at the television to see Vijay Singh outlast Jim Furyk on the fourth extra hole and claim a trophy everyone figured would belong to Garcia.
'It's one of those things,' Garcia said, a phrase he repeated five times in 10 minutes.
Garcia is only 25, way too young for this to be any kind of fork in a career long saddled with high expectations. The spotlight won't leave any time soon, because he is the defending champion at this week's Byron Nelson Championship.
'I've got to just relax until Thursday and get everything back in shape, and take the positives out of this week,' Garcia said. 'They say you learn more from your losses than from your wins. And I've got a lot from this week to learn.'
The positives aren't too hard to find.
No one hit the ball better at Quail Hollow, where the fairways were as crusty and firm as they have been anywhere this year on the PGA Tour. Garcia moved his ball with a slight draw or a gentle fade, whatever the hole required.
And while he joined four others in the record books for losing a six-shot lead in the final round - Greg Norman was the most recent at the 1996 Masters - Garcia was the only one who didn't shoot over par.
He shot an even-par 72, on a day where Singh and Furyk each closed with 66.
'He didn't play badly,' Singh said. 'He didn't shoot a high number or anything. We caught him. He's going to feel it a little bit, but not as bad as what Greg did during the Masters.'
It wasn't as bad as Bobby Cruikshank shooting an 80 to lose the 1928 Florida Open, or Hal Sutton closing with a 77 in the 1983 Anheuser-Busch Classic. The other player to blow a six-shot lead in the final round was Gay Brewer, who closed with a 73 in the 1969 Danny Thomas Diplomat Classic to pave the way for a Sunday charge by Arnold Palmer.
Norman closed with a 78 at Augusta National, turning a six-shot lead into a five-shot loss in a tournament that became a defining moment in his career.
Singh doesn't expect that to be the case with Garcia.
'Sometimes it's harder to play with a big lead,' Singh said. 'I've found that out myself. Instead of trying to win the golf tournament, you don't want to lose it. If guys are catching up ... you kind of start to get nervous.'
Garcia showed that on the first hole.
After running a slippery 8-footer for birdie some 30 inches by the cup, he decided to finish off the hole even though Furyk had an 6-footer for par. Garcia's simple par putt caught the lip.
'I think he just lost concentration,' Furyk said.
Then came an 8-foot birdie on the second hole that missed. He asked his caddie, Glenn Murray, to help read a 10-foot birdie putt on the fourth, but that didn't help. He missed another 10-footer for birdie on the fifth.
'I played awesome the first eight holes,' Garcia said. 'I should have been easily 3 or 4 under, and I was 1 (under). It was tough. To see that you hit it to 10 feet every time and you can't make a putt ... you know, it cost me.'
And even after Singh flubbed a chip that turned birdie into bogey on the par-5 15th, falling into a tie with Garcia, the Spaniard blew a chance to take control of the tournament. From 250 yards in the fairway, his 2-iron on the 15th stopped 6 feet from the hole. Garcia missed that putt, too, and had to settle for birdie.
Singh tried to cut through the tension during the first hole of the playoff, when all three players had the cup surrounded with testy par putts, ranging from Garcia at 6 feet to Furyk at just over 4 feet.
'I told the guys, 'Good, good, good. Let's go to the next tee box,'' Singh said.
They all laughed, although it was uneasy laughter from Garcia.
By the then, the fearless confidence was gone.
And after the putt slid below the cup, so was the tournament.
Watch: Moore does impressions of Tiger, Poults, Bubba
Conor Moore is known for his impressions of golfers, and he is back with a new video just in time for The Open.
Moore even got the thumbs up from Ian Poulter.
This is hilarious..— Ian Poulter (@IanJamesPoulter) July 16, 2018
Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite
Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.
Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.
Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.
Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:
12/1: Dustin Johnson
16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose
20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm
25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods
30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed
40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton
50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick
60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson
80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele
100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen
Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC
If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.
Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.
Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.
There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.
There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.
Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.
John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.
Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.
Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.
Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.
“I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”
Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.
“I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”
But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.
“I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”