Tour tales: No love lost between Paddy and Sergio

By Doug FergusonDecember 24, 2013, 5:00 pm

There is no love lost between Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia, as both made clear at The Players Championship and in the weeks that followed. The same could be said for Garcia and Padraig Harrington, as the Irishman showed on a couple of occasions this year in his subtle style.

Speaking to a small group of reporters at the TPC Sawgrass, where the Woods-Garcia flap was starting to unfold, Harrington said of all the times he has played with Woods he considered his etiquette ''absolutely impeccable.''

''I've played with Tiger many times,'' Harrington said. ''I give him an A-plus on his etiquette on the course. I give him an A-plus for his respect for fellow players on the course.''

A British reporter then asked Harrington what kind of grade he would give Garcia.

''I'm not in a position to rank players,'' he replied.

Later that summer, Harrington finished a practice round at Muirfield and was signing autographs. One fan had the British Open program turned to the page that showed Harrington winning his first claret jug. That was in 2007 at Carnoustie, after a playoff with Garcia.

Harrington signed the page and held onto the book for the longest time, staring at the photo with a satisfied smile.

''You like that picture?'' the man said.

''More than you know,'' the Irishman replied.


Among the visitors at The Players Championship was Ulises Mendez, who plays on the PGA Tour Latinoamerica. The Argentine earned his card last year when he tied for 15th in Latin America Q-school. His player badge allowed him access to the tournament, and he camped out just beneath the bleachers behind the 17th green.

He stood there for an hour as the best players came through the 17th. It was an inspiring day.

''To know where you need to be,'' Mendez said, ''you need to see where you want to go.''


Steve Stricker made it clear that money was not important.

His plan was to defend his title at Kapalua and walk away from the PGA Tour for the rest of the year. Over the holidays leading into 2013, he reached a compromise and cut his schedule roughly in half. He contacted his sponsors, and they supported him.

Stricker didn't have great expectations starting his year of semi-retirement.

''If I could just make enough money to pay yearly expenses, I'm fine with that,'' he said. ''If we don't have to touch anything I've put away ... I don't need to do what I'm doing just to make money. I'd rather be staying at home, doing things at home with the foundation and with my kids.''

No one else was around during this conversation, but Stricker still leaned in and lowered his voice as he stated what everyone already knew.

''You know, we're pretty conservative with our money,'' he said.

Stricker was runner-up that week at Kapalua and made $665,000. He didn't play for six weeks, and then reached the quarterfinals of the Accenture Match Play Championship to earn $275,000. Two weeks later, he was runner-up at Doral and brought in $880,000.

That should pay the bills.

He finished the year with just over $4.4 million, the third-highest total of his career. His world ranking improved 10 spots to No. 8. And by the end of the year, he had several players contemplating a similar schedule.

Along the way, there were plenty of other moments that showed more about players than just their birdies and bogeys, and the checks they cash.


Rory McIlroy generated a buzz no matter where he went at the start of the year. He had the hefty deal from Nike. He was No. 1 in the world. And he was struggling early with a missed cut in Abu Dhabi and a first-round departure in Match Play. Nothing caused a stir like Friday at the Honda Classic, when he abruptly shook hands with Ernie Els as they were making the turn and walked straight to the parking lot.

Information was a trickle. He was vague during a brisk walk to the car. Later, a statement from his management company said he had a sore wisdom tooth.

There was a golf tournament still going on. Michael Thompson shot 65 on that Friday to move to the top of the leaderboard. It was early afternoon and no one seemed interested. The announcement sounded more like a plea. ''We have Michael Thompson in the interview room,'' the official said.

One voice broke the awkward silence. ''Is he a dentist?'' a reported asked.

No. But he did win his first PGA Tour event that week.


Angel Cabrera is a man of few words and loud actions.

A month after losing the Masters in a playoff, he was walking off the 18th green at TPC Sawgrass following a practice round. Fans thrust programs and flags for him to sign. There was bumping and pushing, and a marshal started to bark at everyone to back up.

Cabrera stepped back about 10 feet, and then instructed only the children to come under the ropes and join him. He spent the next 15 minutes signing for them.


It looked like the scene outside the mansion in ''Young Frankenstein,'' missing only the pitchforks and torches.

The Pure Silk LPGA Bahamas Classic was played on a 12-hole course at The Ocean Club because of flooding. The first round didn't finish because of another storm system in the area. Players gathered in darkness outside the rules trailer to find out the plan for Friday. A computer error led players to believe – only for a moment – that they would keep their same tee time for the second round. Chaos ensued, filled with heated arguments among players and rules officials.

And it was at this moment the LPGA showed its true international flavor.

A group of Swedish players were off to the right, raising their voices in their native language. The Americans were in the front of the pack. The South Koreans were in the back. The Spaniards were in the middle. The Germans were over by the hedges. It was the ultimate melting pot.

And they ultimately got it all worked out.


The woman behind the counter at Starbucks in the Denver suburbs was making small talk with a customer when she learned he was headed to the Solheim Cup.

''Annika Sorenstam was just in here,'' she said. ''Well, I think that was her.''

Think?

Not only is the Swede the most famous LPGA Tour player of her generation, one would suspect writing the word ''Annika'' on the cup would be a dead giveaway. Except that in this case, she can be excused. Turns out Sorenstam doesn't go by ''Annika'' when she's in Starbucks.

Her code name is Maria.

''Maria is the one name that translates on every continent,'' Sorenstam said when she confessed to her alias. ''So I'm Maria Swenson.''


The first day of the Solheim Cup nearly didn't finish because of a rules decision that took nearly a half-hour to determine – and as it turned out, it was the wrong decision. It proved a pivotal part of the fourballs match, which Europe went on to win.

It wasn't the first time a rules official had made the wrong call. Former USGA President Trey Holland, one of the most skilled in the Rules of Golf, mistakenly gave Ernie Els relief in the U.S. Open from a temporary immovable object that was movable. But when an official makes a ruling, it stands.

Brad Alexander, a respected LPGA official, made the wrong call at the Solheim Cup. When the day was over, confusion and anger lingered. Alexander volunteered to accompany both captains to the media center to handle any questions from the press. He explained what happened. He made no excuses. He accepted all the blame. It was classy.

That kind of accountability would have come in handy at Augusta National this year.


The final week of December is the one week no meaningful tournaments are played on any tour in the world.

The golf year is endless, and it can feel even longer.

Mark Fulcher, the caddie for Justin Rose, has been at this a long time. The crowning moment was at Merion, where Rose won the U.S. Open for his first major. This was in late October, halfway around the world in Shanghai. Everyone was tired. Rose was just starting the stretch run to the end of his year. The caddies were talking about the drudgery of early rounds at a tournament.

Except for ''Fooch.''

''The day I stop caddying, I'll either be dead or I won't be excited on a Thursday morning,'' Fulcher said that day. ''Thursday is the greatest day in golf. It's the perfect reset, isn't it? You're reminded, even if you won, that everyone starts all over the next week. And if you've played absolute rubbish, there's always the belief that it's about to turn around. I love Thursday. Just love it.''

It's a good reminder for everyone involved in this game. You never know what's going to happen next. Or when.

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M. Jutanugarn eyeing first win with L.A. Open lead

By Associated PressApril 21, 2018, 1:50 am

LOS ANGELES - Moriya Jutanugarn took the lead into the weekend at the Hugel-JTBC L.A. Open in her latest bid to join younger sister Ariya as an LPGA winner.

Moriya Jutanugarn shot a bogey-free 5-under 66 on Friday at Wilshire Country Club to get to 8-under 134 in the LPGA Tour's first event in Los Angeles since 2005. The 23-year-old from Thailand started fast with birdies on the par-5 second, par-4 third and par-3 fourth and added two more on the par-4 11th and par-5 13th.

Ariya Jutanugarn has seven LPGA victories.

Marina Alex was second after a 68.


Full-field scores from the Hugel-JTBC Open


So Yeon Ryu was 6 under after a 69, and fellow South Korean players Inbee Park(71) and Eun-Hee Ji (69). Park was the first-round leader at 66. Lexi Thompsonwas 3 under after a 71.

Top-ranked Shanshan Feng followed her opening 74 with a 67 to get to 1 under.

Ariya Jutanugarn (71) was even par, and Michelle Wie (70) was 1 over. Brooke Henderson, the Canadian star who won last week in Hawaii, had a 79 to miss the cut.

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Garcia tosses driver, misses Valero cut

By Will GrayApril 21, 2018, 1:00 am

It wasn't quite to the level of his watery meltdown earlier this month at the Masters, but Sergio Garcia still got frustrated during the second round of the Valero Texas Open - and his driver paid the price.

Garcia had a hand in redesigning the AT&T Oaks Course along with Greg Norman several years ago, but this marked his first return to TPC San Antonio since 2010. After an opening-round 74, Garcia arrived to the tee of the short par-4 fifth hole and decided to get aggressive with driver in hand.

When his shot sailed well left, a heated Garcia chucked the club deep into the bushes that lined the tee box:

It took considerable effort for Garcia to find and retrieve the club amid the branches, and once he did things only got worse. He appeared to shank a chip once he got up to his ball, leading to a bogey on one of the easiest holes on a demanding track.

Garcia closed out his round with four straight pars, and at 2 over he eventually missed the cut by a shot. It marks the first time he has missed consecutive cuts on the PGA Tour since 2003, when he sat out the weekend at the AT&T Byron Nelson, Fort Worth Invitational and Memorial Tournament in successive weeks.

Garcia entered the week ranked No. 10 in the world, and he was the only top-20 player among the 156-man field. He missed the cut at the Masters in defense of his title after carding an octuple-bogey 13 on the 15th hole during the opening round.

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Johnson, Moore co-lead Valero Texas Open through 36

By Associated PressApril 21, 2018, 1:00 am

SAN ANTONIO - Zach Johnson was going nowhere in the Valero Texas Open when it all changed with one putt.

He made an 8-foot par putt on the 13th hole of the opening round to stay at 2 under. He followed with a big drive, a hybrid into 12 feet and an eagle. Johnson was on his way, and he kept right on going Friday to a 7-under 65 and a share of the 36-hole lead with Ryan Moore.

''You just never know. That's the beauty of this game,'' Johnson said. ''I felt like I was hitting some solid shots and wasn't getting rewarded, and you've just got to stay in it. You've got to persevere, grind it out, fight for pars. You just never know.''

Moore had three birdies over his last five holes for a 67 and joined Johnson at 9-under 135.

They had a one-shot lead over Grayson Murray (69) and Andrew Landry (67).

Ben Crane (66), Martin Laird (65) and David Hearn (68) were three shots behind. Billy Horschel and Keegan Bradley shot 71 and were four shots behind at 5-under 139.


Full-field scores from the Valero Texas Open

Valero Texas Open: Articles, photos and videos


Sergio Garcia, who consulted Greg Norman on the design of the AT&T Oaks Course at the TPC San Antonio, had a short stay in his first time at the Texas Open since 2010. Garcia shot an even-par 72, and at one point became so frustrated he threw his driver into the shrubs.

Garcia finished at 2-over 146 and missed the cut.

It was the first time since 2010 that Garcia missed the cut in successive starts. That was the PGA Championship and, 10 weeks later, the Castello Masters in Spain. This time, he missed the cut in the Masters and Texas Open three weeks apart.

Johnson, a two-time winner of the Texas Open, appeared to be headed to a short week until the key par save on the 13th hole, followed by his eagle, par and three straight birdies. He began the second round Friday with five birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine, a sixth birdie on the par-4 first hole, and then an eagle on the short par-4 fifth when he holed out from a greenside bunker.

The only sour taste to his second round was a three-putt bogey from about 30 feet on his final hole. Even so, the view was much better than it was Thursday afternoon.

Moore thought he had wasted a good birdie opportunity on the par-5 14th hole when he left his 50-foot eagle putt about 6 feet short. But he made that, and then holed a similar putt from 8 feet for birdie on the next hole and capped his good finish with a 15-foot putt on the 17th.

''That was a huge momentum putt there,'' Moore said of the 14th. ''It was a tough putt from down there with a lot of wind. That green is pretty exposed and ... yeah, really short and committed to that second putt really well and knocked it right in the middle.''

The birdies on the 14th and 15th were important to Moore because he missed a pair of 10-foot birdie tries to start the back nine.

''So it was nice to get those and get going in the right direction on the back,'' he said.

The cut was at 1-over 145, and because 80 players made the cut, there will be a 54-hole cut on Saturday.

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Daly-Allen team grabs Legends of Golf lead on Day 2

By Associated PressApril 20, 2018, 11:14 pm

RIDGEDALE, Mo. - John Daly and Michael Allen took the second-round lead Friday in the cool and breezy Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf.

Daly and Allen shot an 8-under 46 on the Top of the Rock par-3 course with wind gusting to 15 mph and the temperature only in the high-50s at Big Cedar Lodge. They had three birdies on the front nine in alternate-shot play and added five more on the back in better-ball play to get to 13 under.

''Michael and I go back to the South African days in the late 80s and playing that tour,'' Daly said. ''We've been buddies since. He's just fun to play with. We feed off each other pretty good. And if he's not comfortable guinea-pigging on one hole, I'll go first.''

On Thursday, they opened with a 66 on the regulation Buffalo Ridge course. They will rotate to the 13-hole Mountain Top par-3 course on Saturday, and return to Top of the Rock for the final round Sunday.

''I went to high school in Jeff City, so it's cool to have the fans behind us,'' Daly said.

Allen won the PGA Tour Champions team event with David Frost in 2012 and Woody Austin in 2016.

''I'm just here to free up John,'' Allen said. ''It was fun. Luckily, I started making good putts today. We just want to keep the good times rolling.''


Full-field scores from the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf


Defending champions Vijay Singh and Carlos Franco were a stroke back along with Bernhard Langer-Tom Lehman and Paul Broadhurst-Kirk Triplett. Singh and Franco had a 7-under 32 in best-ball play at Mountain Top, and Lehman-Langer and Broadhurst-Tripplet each shot 6-under 48 at Top of the Rock.

''Part of the issue here is all the tees are elevated, so you're up high hitting to a green that's down below and the wind is blowing, and there is more time for that wind to affect it,'' Lehman said. ''If you guess wrong on the wind, you can hit a really good shot and kind of look stupid.''

Former UCLA teammates Scott McCarron and Brandt Jobe were two strokes back at 11 under with Steve Flesch and David Toms and the Spanish side of Jose Maria Olazabal and Miguel Angel Jimenez. McCarron-Jobe had a 47, and Jimenez-Olazabal a 48 at Top of the Rock, and Tom Flesch shot 34 at Mountain Top.

First-round leaders Jeff Maggert and Jesper Parnevik had a 52 at Top of the Rock to fall three shots back at 10 under. Madison, Wisconsin, friends Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly also were 10 under after a 32 at Mountain Top. Jay Haas aced the 131-yard seventh hole at Mountain Top with a gap wedge. Haas and fellow 64-year-old Peter Jacobsen were 8 under after a 32.