Leading and Bleeding

By Brian HewittMay 9, 2005, 4:00 pm
Playing with the lead these days on the PGA Tour is getting to be like playing with fire. Sleeping with the lead on Saturday nights is getting to be like sleeping with the enemy.

Sergio Garcia was ahead by a bunch Saturday night at the Wachovia Championship. Then he woke up Sunday, shot an even par 72 and lost in a playoff to Vijay Singh.

'They say you learn more from your losses than your wins,' a gracious Garcia said when it was over.

Sergio Garcia
Sergio Garcia played an emotional round Sunday but went home disappointed.
>If that's the case, there must be a lot of very smart touring pros right now. Singh would be one of them. Yes, he has now won three times this year. But he squandered a 54-hole lead at the Mercedes Championships, shot 74 on Sunday and lost to Stuart Appleby. He bounced back with a victory the very next week at The Sony Open when third round leader Shigeki Maruyama carded a tepid Sunday 71 and tied for third.

'Coming down the stretch,' Garcia said at Wachovia, 'it's not easy to hit perfect shots.'

Just ask Scott McCarron......Or Chris DiMarco.

McCarron led after three rounds at the BellSouth Classic only to balloon to a final round 76 and drop all the way down to a tie for 32d.

DiMarco slept on the lead Saturday night at Augusta even though the third round hadn't been completed. And he struggled immediately Sunday morning before losing valiantly to Tiger Woods in a playoff late in the day.

In his first event after Augusta, DiMarco led after 54 holes at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. But a Sunday 72 by DiMarco gave Tim Petrovic the opening he needed to win in a playoff.

'I felt like every time I missed a shot, I was struggling to make par,' Garcia said Sunday.

Tom Lehman, the 54-hole leader at the Buick Invitational before losing to Woods, knows of what Garcia speaks.

So does Joe Ogilvie, the Saturday night leader at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic where Justin Leonard tracked him down.

Others with similarly presumed learned lessons this season include Brian Davis at the Nissan Open, Kevin Na at the Chrysler Classic of Tucson, Phil Mickelson at the Ford Championship at Doral, Brett Wetterich and Geoff Ogilvy at The Honda Classic, and Luke Donald at The Players Championship.

You may remember Darren Clarke's Sunday collapse at the MCI Heritage. Even though Clarke had a large lead early Sunday, eventual winner Peter Lonard was actually the 54-hole leader. Lonard stumbled to a final round 75 and won mostly because Clarke was sinking to 76.

'One of those things,' Garcia said Sunday, referring to himself.

But he could have been speaking to all the players on the PGA Tour this year who have had so much trouble closing the deal. This, of course, is nothing new in golf. But what seems to be new is the epidemic proportions.

Is it the money that causes the pressure that causes the failures? Or is it the nature of the human condition in golf that it is much harder to 'protect' than it is to 'strive'?

For certain, golf is not a game generally played well when you are thinking about what you have to lose. Yet any player will tell you he'd much rather have a six-shot lead after 54 holes than a six-shot deficit.

But make one double bogey early Sunday and watch your playing partner make a couple of birdies and a two-shot lead can actually 'feel' like you're behind.

It's not easy to play golf. It's even harder to play golf well. Playing golf well enough to win at the game's highest level is an almost infinite step up in class. Playing with the lead at that level these days appears to be excruciating.
 
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Garcia among notables to miss FedExCup playoffs

By Will GrayAugust 19, 2018, 10:24 pm

For the first time in the 12-year history of the FedExCup, the PGA Tour's postseason will proceed without Sergio Garcia.

The former Masters champ has struggled mightily this summer, missing the cut in all four majors, and he entered the Wyndham Championship at No. 131 in the season-long points race with only the top 125 making the playoffs. Six years after winning at Sedgefield Country Club, Garcia again made a run up the leaderboard and was projected to reach No. 122 heading into the final round.

But on an afternoon where Brandt Snedeker shot 65 en route to victory and runner-up Webb Simpson carded a 62, Garcia shot an even-par 70 that included three back-nine bogeys to drop from a tie for eighth into a tie for 24th. As a result, he moved up only three spots to No. 128 in the final regular-season event and will not have a tee time next week at The Northern Trust.


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He will remain fully exempt next year by virtue of the five-year exemption he earned with his Masters win last spring.

Garcia was one of 13 players who had made the playoffs every year since the advent of the FedExCup in 2007. Two other members of that select group also saw their streaks end this year, as former world No. 1 Luke Donald has missed most of the season with an injury while Bill Haas finished No. 152 after a T-45 finish at Wyndham.

Other notable players who failed to crack the top 125 include veterans Aaron Baddeley (No. 132), Shane Lowry (No. 140), David Lingmerth (No. 143) and Graeme McDowell (No. 144), all of whom saw multiple-year exemptions for victories in 2015 or 2016 expire this weekend in Greensboro.

Players who finish Nos. 126-200 in the season-long points will have an opportunity to retain their PGA Tour cards for the 2018-19 season at the Web.com Tour Finals, a four-event series that kicks off next week in Ohio. Players who finished Nos. 126-150 will retain at least conditional PGA Tour status for next year regardless of their Finals performance.

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Bryant wins Dick's Sporting Goods Open for second time

By Associated PressAugust 19, 2018, 10:17 pm

ENDICOTT, N.Y. - Bart Bryant made a 25-foot birdie putt on the final hole Sunday to win the Dick's Sporting Goods Open for the second time in six years.

With playing partner Michael Bradley facing a 7-foot birdie putt that he would make, the 55-year-old Bryant rolled in the left-to-right breaking putt for a 7-under 65 and a one-stroke victory.

''It felt good. It really did,'' Bryant said. ''He hit a great shot in there. He went after the pin, which he had to do. ... I gave it a good run. But to make a putt like that to win a tournament, there's a little bit of luck involved and it was just kind of my day. ... I've had putts made on me on 18 to lose before, so it's nice to be on the other end of the stick this time.''

Bradley, the second-round leader, bogeyed the par-4 15th in a 68.

''It was fun. We had a good time,'' Bradley said. ''He shot 65-65 on the weekend, that's tough to beat. But I put a little pressure on, I hit a good shot into 18. He made a hell of a putt.''

Also the 2013 winner at En-Joie Golf Club, Bryant made six birdies in a nine-hole stretch from the third to the 11th and had six straight pars before the winning birdie putt on the par-4 18th.


Full-field scores from the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open


''I played awfully well, I didn't hit a bad shot today,'' Bryant said. ''I played conservatively, a little bit conservative coming in, but smart. It got the job done. Very pleased with the way everything went.''

Bryant finished at 16-under 200. The three-time PGA Tour winner's only senior victories have come at En-Joie, the site of the PGA Tour's B.C. Open from 1972-2005.

The 52-year-old Bradley is winless on the 50-and-over tour after winning four times on the PGA Tour.

''I played solid, 65-68-68,'' Bradley said. ''I just got beat.''

Tom Gillis (67) and Marco Dawson (68) tied for third at 13 under, a stroke ahead of Paul Goydos (65), Kenny Perry (67) and Mark Calcavecchia (67).

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Snedeker goes wire-to-wire for first win since 2016

By Will GrayAugust 19, 2018, 10:12 pm

Even after shooting a 59 in the opening round, Brandt Snedeker had to work to secure his ninth career victory at the Wyndham Championship.

Snedeker led at Sedgefield Country Club the entire week after becoming just the ninth player to break 60 on the PGA Tour, carrying a one-shot lead into the final round. But he was caught down the stretch, first by C.T. Pan and later by Webb Simpson, to leave the outcome very much undecided.

But Simpson ran out of holes, and Pan made a costly mistake by hitting his tee shot on No. 18 out of bounds while holding a share of the lead. It meant that Snedeker needed only bogey to earn his second Wyndham title and first Tour victory since the 2016 Farmers Insurance Open, instead opting to sink a 20-foot birdie putt for a closing 65 and three-shot win.

"I guess I'm turning into Bubba Watson, wanting to cry every two seconds," Snedeker told reporters. "To do it here, to shoot 59 on Thursday, to be in the lead all week, to deal with that pressure every night, to be able to step up to the plate today and shoot 65 when I had to means the world to me."


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Snedeker struggled with injury for much of last season, and this spring he missed the Masters for the first time since 2010 while toiling near the edge of the top-125 bubble in the points race. But the veteran turned things around with a T-6 finish in Memphis in June, added a T-3 finish last month at The Greenbrier and now has come full circle in the city where he earned his first career win at nearby Forest Oaks in 2007.

"I'm a lot stronger than I thought I was," Snedeker said. "I've still got a lot of great golf in me. I'm excited about the FedExCup playoffs. I've done this before, I've won that thing, and I can't wait to try to make a run to Atlanta in the playoffs because I'm playing great."

It was a bittersweet result for Pan, who had his wife on the bag this week and briefly appeared poised for a breakthrough victory. The former University of Washington standout made six birdies in a 12-hole stretch in the middle of his round to catch Snedeker, but his drive on No. 18 sailed well right. It led to a double bogey, and at 18 under he ended the week tied for second with Simpson.

The result was still Pan's best of his young PGA Tour career, having started the week at No. 108 in the points race despite not having a single top-10 finish this season.

"Just had a little noise in my head and it caused me to hit a bad shot," Pan said. "But overall I feel good about the whole round. I played great. Just one bad shot, but that's OK."

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Taylor crashes playoffs with closing 63 at Wyndham

By Will GrayAugust 19, 2018, 9:31 pm

Nick Taylor picked a good time to shoot his best round of the season.

Taylor was the big mover in the standings during the final regular season event, shooting a final-round 63 at the Wyndham Championship to grab a share of eighth place. The result moved the Canadian from No. 129 to No. 121 in the season-long points race, ensuring a spot in The Northern Trust next week and fully-exempt status for the 2018-19 season.

"You try to block it all out when you're playing. I tried not to look at any leaderboards today, especially the second 18," Taylor told reporters. "When I got my PGA Tour card the first time I shot a 63 in the final round ironically of the Web.com Finals. So I tried to draw back on that, and it worked today."

Taylor earned his lone PGA Tour win at the 2014 Sanderson Farms Championship, and he dug himself an early hole Sunday morning with a triple bogey on No. 14 while completing his rain-delayed third round. But he made four straight birdies on Nos. 2-5 in the final round, added an eagle on No. 15 and birdied the 72nd hole to retain his card with room to spare.

"It was a long day, obviously," Taylor said. "It was a lot of sleepless nights. Last night I didn't sleep that great."


Wyndham Championship: Full-field scores | Full coverage

Current FedExCup points list


Taylor was one of two players who moved inside the top-125 bubble in the final round of the regular season. Harris English started the week at No. 132, but a T-11 finish allowed him to eke in at No. 124 with no room to spare. English shot a final-round 68 that included a two-putt par from 60 feet on No. 18 when a bogey would have sent the veteran to Web.com Tour Finals.

"It's one of the more nerve-wracking feelings I've had in a long time," English said. "It's a way different feeling than trying to win a tournament. I'm glad it's over."

With Taylor and English moving into the top 125, two players saw their seasons come to an end after missing the cut at Sedgefield Country Club. Martin Piller fell from 124th to 126th and was the man edged out by English's closing par, while Tyrone Van Aswegen dropped two spots from No. 125 to No. 127.

Ireland's Seamus Power, who also missed the cut in Greensboro, finished the season at No. 125 with 377 points, six ahead of Piller.

All players who finished the season Nos. 126-200 on the points list will have a chance to earn one of 25 PGA Tour cards available at the four-event Finals, while Nos. 126-150 will retain conditional PGA Tour status for next season.