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What If Sergio Wins

No, this column does not come to you direct from David Lettermans home office in Wahoo, Nebraska. But what follows are the 10 top reasons, not necessarily in order, why a victory by 36-hole leader Sergio Garcia Sunday in the Open Championship at Carnoustie will be especially worth noting. Its a big if mostly because theres lots of golf left. But its always fun to take a peek into what-might-happen.
1.The Streak Will Be Over: The last European to win a major championship was Scotlands Paul Lawrie, at Carnoustie, way back in 1999. Since then the Euros have gone 0 for the 21st century. Its a drought theyre very tired of hearing about over and over. So they will be dancing from the bull rings of Pamplona to the soccer pitches of Manchester if El Nino finally delivers on all that promise he hasnt yet kept in the biggest championships.
2.The Clothes Will Have Been Fixed: Too many times in recent years Sergio has shown up on the tee wearing clothes that made him look like a human canary, a mint frappe or a raspberry sherbet cone. Thursday it was smart blue trousers and a tasteful cream-colored sweater. Friday it was sharp black top and crisp tan slacks. Marty Hackel would be proud. Garcia may finally have learned how to dress like a champion.
3.The Torch Will Have Been Passed: Early in the week Severiano Ballesteros, the greatest Spaniard ever to play the game, officially retired from competitive golf. Then another Spaniard, two-time Masters winner Jose Maria Olazabal, withdrew, citing a knee injury. This is clearly a sign from his countrymen that Garcias time has come. Miguel Angel Jimenez (tied for third after two rounds) has hung around for support. And the way hes playing, Jimenez could wind up in the final group with Garcia Sunday. That would be like Sancho Panza and Don Quixote. Jimenez (set in ital.) sanchismos (end ital.) would be the perfect complement to all Garcias (set in ital.) duende (end ital.).
4.Tiger Woods Will Have Been Put On Notice: Woods shocked everybody by dunking the first shot of his second round OB Friday. We have come to know over the years that as much as he hates to lose, there are some players he hates to lose to more than others. Garcia, who gloated openly after bagging Woods at the Battle of Bighorn way back in 2000, is one of those players. In short, the Claret Jug in Garcias possession will only make Woods more determined, if such a thing is possible. Tiger is seven back after 36 holes.
5.Garcias Manners May Improve: On his worst days, Garcia can be peevish, stubborn and downright rude. Earlier this year in Florida he spit into a golf cup on the course after being frustrated by poor putting. Doral officials are still waiting for a public apology. The figurative crown worn by major champions almost always improves their comportment.
6.Sergios Confidence Will Soar: Perhaps the best ball-striker in golf, Garcia obviously has found something with the belly putter. Continued belief with the flat stick is the one thing that could transform Garcia overnight into the best candidate to challenge Woods on a regular basis. Isnt that the player weve all been looking for the last 10 years?
7.Garcia Will No Longer Be TBPNTHWAM: The dubious distinction of being the best player never to have won a major will probably now belong to Adam Scott. Although Northern Irelands Rory McIlroy sure looks like the best 18-year-old (since Woods was that age) Ive ever seen never to have won a major. McIlroy fired a 3-under 68 Thursday and played well enough Friday to make the cut. Not bad for a fresh-faced kid who looks like hes still a couple of years away from shaving.
8.Cry-noustie Will Be A Distant Memory: At Carnoustie in 1999 a 19-year-old Garcia shot an 83 and an 89, missed the cut by millions and wept openly in his mothers arms. This time the only tears will be ones of joy. And there will be enough to fill a keg of Michelob Light.
9.The Americans Will Win The Next Ryder Cup: There is, at least, every reason to hope this will be the case since the Euros played so well in the Ryder Cup when they were playing so poorly in all those majors. Isnt golf supposed to be cyclical?
10.It Will Be Predicted By Experts That Garcia Will Win Multiple Majors Soon: And these predictions will be wrong. Weve heard this blather before. But the fact remains that Garcia and all the other guys out there right now are living in the time of Tiger Woods. Tiger is The Man in golf and will remain so for at least 10 and maybe 20 more years. Enjoy your moment while you can, Sergio.
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