Sergios Lament - Whither the Putter

By George WhiteJanuary 6, 2006, 5:00 pm
Weve been waiting ' oftentimes impatiently waiting ' a long time for Sergio Garcia to make it to the top.
Not a lot of people realize that Sergio was only 19 years old when he was leaping and running down the 16th fairway at the PGA Championship, a tournament where he finished second only to Tiger Woods. He had already won three times in Europe by that time, including one when he was just 17.
Sergio Garcia
Sergio Garcia ranked 196th on tour in putting average last year.
Not many people stop to realize that Sergio was still only 21 ' an age when most pros are still finishing their college careers ' when he won a couple of big U.S. tournaments in 2001, Colonial and the Buick Open. Or that he was just 22 when he won the Mercedes Championships, a tournament for the elite of the elite, confined to winners of the previous year.
But now he is just days short of his 26th birthday. He cant blame fuzzy-cheeked youth as the reason why he so often has risen spectacularly to the top of leaderboards, only to have a dramatic flameout. If he is going to be great ' no, if he is going to be just very good ' then this is the year that he needs to start showing something. Tiger, remember, had won 29 times when he was just 26.
Garcia is again at the Mercedes this week, compliments of his win at the Booz Allen Classic last year. In 2005 he made $3.2 million, 10th on the tour. Thats absolutely amazing, when you consider how atrocious a putter he was. Only five players among those ranked had a worse average than Garcias.
This putting thing is a relatively recent bugaboo in Sergios game. Would you believe that he was fourth on tour in putting in 2000? He was a very respectable 24th in 2001, still up there at 35th in 2002.
Then, the bottom fell out. He was 175th in 2003, 129th in 2004. And last year was the worst. He led the tour in greens hit ' No. 1. And he still managed to finish seventh in scoring average. But he might as well have putted with a mop handle, the way the ball skittered around its target so often.
His putting cost him at least two tournaments last season. The first was at the Wachovia, where Sergio went into a playoff with Vijay Singh and three-putted the first hole from 45 feet ' missing a 6-footer for par. The second was the British Open. Garcia hit almost 80 percent of the greens, but at the same time averaged almost two putts per green. Winner Woods averaged four strokes per round less per green when the stats of the two were matched side-by-side.
Garcia is not exactly incorrect when he analyzes his putting problems. You make the putts with your head, not with your hands, Sergio oh-so-correctly observed.
The fact that he made them once upon a time should be encouraging. He knows a good putter is inside there somewhere, just waiting to get out again. For the better part of his first four years, he just didnt miss. And in 2003 ' the year the putting went way south ' he underwent a full-swing change and began hitting greens much more often. But alas, the putting soured.
Since that time, Sergio has tried just about everything. Hes even endorsed a putting aid or two. And each time he thinks he has it figured out, this same old villain re-surfaces.
And, sure enough, this year he thinks maybe he has it figured out. He says he has watched tapes and discovered that at certain key moments ' pressure moments, he says ' he has constantly mis-hit the ball. Not off the toe, but off-center to the right side of the center of the clubface, he says.
And so, he has been working on striking the ball solidly each time, in the middle of the putterface. He takes two tees, places them in the ground, and just kind of swing it through it while I'm putting, make sure that I strike it in the middle. If I hit one of the tees, I know I'm not doing properly.
I feel like my stroke is a bit more consistent and I feel like my pace is going to improve with that. The more inconsistent you are by striking it - when you strike it well, it rolls a bit more; when you strike it a bit off the toe, it goes a bit softer.
He hits absolute lasers into the green, he drives it plenty long ' but the adventures often begin when he reaches the putting surface. IF he can finally solve those problems, and IF the rest of his game remains as sound as it was last year, he can wedge his way in amongst the top four or five in the game.
You know, I think that if you know what you're working on and you're confident about what you're working on, you know that's the right way to go, you don't need anything else, he says. 'Cause at the end of the day, it doesn't have to be a perfect stroke. But it has to be one that you trust and one that you feel good with it. You know, if you hit the ball in the middle of a club face, it doesn't matter what you do.
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Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off

By Associated PressJuly 20, 2018, 11:29 pm

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.

The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.

Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.

Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.

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Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

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Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

“There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

“I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

“I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

“It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

“I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”