Faldo explains 'useless' comment about Garcia

By Doug FergusonSeptember 26, 2014, 11:37 pm

GLENEAGLES, Scotland – Nick Faldo defended his television commentary that Sergio Garcia was ''useless'' in the 2008 Ryder Cup, saying the Spaniard had emotional and physical problems at Valhalla and even told Faldo that he did not want to play.

Faldo, captain of that 2008 team that lost to the Americans, conceded it was a harsh choice of words. But in an interview Friday night with The Associated Press, he revealed details of that Ryder Cup and said ''he wasn't the Sergio everyone knows now.''

He said Garcia was emotionally down after breaking up with his girlfriend and told him he didn't want to play after the pairings already were in.

Garcia's teammates rallied around him Friday night at Gleneagles after a late rally to take a 5-3 lead in the Ryder Cup.

''Are you sure you didn't misquote him?'' Garcia said when told of Faldo's comments. ''That's unfortunate. I guess he doesn't feel European. That's the only thing I can think of. There's a lot of things I could say about Nick Faldo, but I'm not going to put myself down to his level.''

Faldo is the analyst for Golf Channel, and as Garcia was teeing off Friday morning in fourballs with Rory McIlroy, host Terry Gannon said that regardless of what Garcia has done on his own, he has been ''spectacular'' during the Ryder Cup.

''Yes, apart from one,'' Faldo replied.

When Gannon asked if that 2008 Ryder Cup still hurt, Faldo said: ''He was useless.'' After some laughter, Faldo added: ''Half a point, bad attitude. Anyway, we move on six years later.''

Garcia actually earned one point from going 0-2-2 for the week, his worst record in six Ryder Cups.

''He was always labeled as the man who brings emotion and passion. We didn't have it that week,'' Faldo told the AP. ''That's, in my opinion, how it looked and felt.''

Faldo said Garcia was ''down in the dumps'' after Morgan Leigh Norman, the daughter of Greg Norman, had broken up with him.

''Friday morning, I'm going up the 10th hole with him,'' he said. ''I just put my arm around him and said, 'Are you good to go this afternoon?' And he said, 'Yes' to me. Then I get him on the 18th green and he says, 'I'm (expletive). I don't want to play anymore. I've been on antibiotics.' I told him he was on the tee in 30 minutes.''

The pairings are submitted for the afternoon before the morning matches are over.

''That was the tone of Sergio for the whole week,'' Faldo said. ''He wasn't in it.''

Faldo said his choice of words - ''useless'' - stems from reacting on live television.

''I agree that was harsh,'' he said. ''Everybody immediately goes straight to him that 'Faldo says you were useless' when they don't know the circumstances. It's live television. It's half tongue-in-cheek. It's a throwaway line with no malice.''

Friday ended much better than it started for Garcia.

After losing a fourballs match to Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley, Garcia and McIlroy won the last two holes for a momentum-building half-point. When Faldo's comments were mentioned, Westwood said, ''That's a great question. OK. We'll take the euphoria we all have from today and just crush it.''

Graeme McDowell pointed out that Westwood and Garcia were benched for the first time in their Ryder Cup careers at Valhalla.

''You've got one of the best Ryder Cup pairings of all time being sat down on a Saturday afternoon of a Ryder Cup that we go on to lose,'' McDowell said. ''I'd say Sergio was fairly useless that afternoon, yeah. Because he wasn't able to play.''

Faldo said he didn't want ''to create a bigger fire than it is'' during the Ryder Cup. He said he would explain his comments on television Saturday given the chance, though it would be a Golf Channel show and not during the main telecast. NBC Sports with Johnny Miller takes over on the weekend.

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Berger more than ready to rebound at Travelers

By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:54 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Daniel Berger hopes that this year he gets to be on the other end of a viral moment at the Travelers Championship.

Berger was a hard-luck runner-up last year at TPC River Highlands, a spectator as Jordan Spieth holed a bunker shot to defeat him in a playoff. It was the second straight year that the 25-year-old came up just short outside Hartford, as he carried a three-shot lead into the 2016 event before fading to a tie for fifth.

While he wasn’t lacking any motivation after last year’s close call, Berger got another dose last week at the U.S. Open when he joined Tony Finau as a surprise participant in the final group Sunday, only to shoot a 73 and drift to a T-6 finish.


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“It was one of the best experiences of my professional golf career so far. I feel like I’m going to be in such a better place next time I’m in that position, having felt those emotions and kind of gone through it,” Berger said. “There was a lot of reflection after that because I felt like I played good enough to get it done Sunday. I didn’t make as many putts as I wanted to, but I hit a lot of really good putts. And that’s really all you can do.”

Berger missed the cut earlier this month to end his quest for three straight titles in Memphis, but his otherwise consistent season has now included six top-20 finishes since January. After working his way into contention last week and still with a score to settle at TPC River Highlands, he’s eager to get back to work against another star-studded field.

“I think all these experiences you just learn from,” Berger said. “I think last week, having learned from that, I think that’s even going to make me a little better this week. So I’m excited to get going.”

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Rory tired of the near-misses, determined to close

By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:46 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Rory McIlroy has returned to the Travelers Championship with an eye on bumping up his winning percentage.

McIlroy stormed from the back of the pack to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March, but that remains his lone worldwide win since the 2016 Tour Championship. It speaks to McIlroy’s considerable ability and lofty expectations that, even with a number of other high finishes this season, he is left unsatisfied.

“I feel like I’ve had five realistic chances to win this year, and I’ve been able to close out one of them. That’s a bit disappointing, I guess,” McIlroy said. “But at least I’ve given myself five chances to win golf tournaments, which is much more than I did last year.”


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The most memorable of McIlroy’s near-misses is likely the Masters, when he played alongside Patrick Reed in Sunday’s final group but struggled en route to a T-5 finish. But more frustrating in the Ulsterman’s eyes were his runner-up at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, when he led by two shots with eight holes to go, and a second-place showing behind Francesco Molinari at the BMW PGA Championship in May.

“There’s been some good golf in there,” he said. “I feel like I let Dubai and Wentworth get away a little bit.”

He’ll have a chance to rectify that trend this week at TPC River Highlands, where he finished T-17 last year in his tournament debut and liked the course and the tournament enough to keep it on his schedule. It comes on the heels of a missed cut at the U.S. Open, when he was 10 over through 11 holes and never got on track. McIlroy views that result as more of an aberration during a season in which he has had plenty of chances to contend on the weekend.

“I didn’t necessarily play that badly last week. I feel like if I play similarly this week, I might have a good chance to win,” McIlroy said. “I think when you play in conditions like that, it magnifies parts of your game that maybe don’t stack up quite as good as the rest of your game, and it magnified a couple of things for me that I worked on over the weekend.”

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Sunday run at Shinnecock gave Reed even more confidence

By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:08 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – While many big names are just coming around to the notion that the Travelers Championship is worth adding to the schedule, Patrick Reed has been making TPC River Highlands one of his favorite haunts for years.

Reed will make his seventh straight appearance outside Hartford, where he tied for fifth last year and was T-11 the year before that. He is eager to get back to the grind after a stressful week at the U.S. Open, both because of his past success here and because it will offer him a chance to build on a near-miss at Shinnecock Hills.

Reed started the final round three shots off the lead, but he quickly stormed toward the top of the leaderboard and became one of Brooks Koepka’s chief threats after birdies on five of his first seven holes. Reed couldn’t maintain the momentum in the middle of the round, carding three subsequent bogeys, and ultimately tied for fourth.


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It was a bittersweet result, but Reed is focusing on the positives after taking a couple days to reflect.

“If you would have told me that I had a chance to win coming down Sunday, I would have been pleased,” Reed said. “I felt like I just made too many careless mistakes towards the end, and because of that, you’re not going to win at any major making careless mistakes, especially on Sunday.”

Reed broke through for his first major title at the Masters, and he has now finished fourth or better in three straight majors dating back to a runner-up at the PGA last summer. With another chance to add to that record next month in Scotland, he hopes to carry the energy from last week’s close call into this week’s event on a course where he feels right at home.

“It just gives me confidence, more than anything,” Reed said. “Of course I would have loved to have closed it out and win, but it was a great week all in all, and there’s a lot of stuff I can take from it moving forward. That’s how I’m looking at it.”

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Koepka back to work, looking to add to trophy collection

By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 8:53 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Days after ensuring the U.S. Open trophy remained in his possession for another year, Brooks Koepka went back to work.

Koepka flew home to Florida after successfully defending his title at Shinnecock Hills, celebrating the victory Monday night with Dustin Johnson, Paulina Gretzky, swing coach Claude Harmon III and a handful of close friends. But he didn’t fully unwind because of a decision to honor his commitment to the Travelers Championship, becoming the first player to tee it up the week after a U.S. Open win since Justin Rose in 2013.

Koepka withdrew from the Travelers pro-am, but he flew north to Connecticut on Wednesday and arrived to TPC River Highlands around 3 p.m., quickly heading to the driving range to get in a light practice session.

“It still hasn’t sunk in, to be honest with you,” Koepka said. “I’m still focused on this week. It was just like, ‘All right, if I can get through this week, then I’m going to be hanging with my buddies next week.’ I know then maybe it’ll sink in, and I’ll get to reflect on it a little bit more.”


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Koepka’s plans next week with friends in Boston meant this week’s event outside Hartford made logistical sense. But he was also motivated to play this week because, plainly, he hasn’t had that many playing opportunities this year after missing nearly four months with a wrist injury.

“I’ve had so many months at home being on the couch. I don’t need to spend any more time on the couch,” Koepka said. “As far as skipping, it never crossed my mind.”

Koepka’s legacy was undoubtedly bolstered by his win at Shinnecock, as he became the first player in nearly 30 years to successfully defend a U.S. Open title. But he has only one other PGA Tour win to his credit, that being the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open, and his goal for the rest of the season is to make 2018 his first year with multiple trophies on the mantle.

“If you’re out here for more than probably 15 events, it gives you a little better chance to win a couple times. Being on the sidelines isn’t fun,” Koepka said. “Keep doing what we’re doing and just try to win multiple times every year. I feel like I have the talent. I just never did it for whatever reason. Always felt like we ran into a buzzsaw. So just keep plugging away.”