Surprise Sergio Just a Longshot

By George WhiteJune 14, 2005, 4:00 pm
Have we given up on Sergio Garcia?
Heres a young man who is only 25 years old. Hes already won six times, including a victory last week at the Booz Allen Classic at Congressional. In 1999 he pushed Tiger Woods to the absolute limit at the PGA Championship before finally being relegated to second place. He stands No. 6 in the world as the U.S. Open readies for play.
On the other hand, this is his sixth year as a professional. He isnt mentioned nearly as much as a possible winner in the majors as he was the first three years of his career. Hes been passed on the expectation list by Retief Goosen, Chris DiMarco, even by Phil Mickelson. And his putting, which was better than average his first three years, has been abysmal his last three.
Sergio Garcia
Sergio Garcia has yet to strike the pose of a major championship winner.
Garcia says there still is a lot of time, perhaps 25 more years, for him to become the best that there is in the game. He possesses patience in multiples, becoming a little petulant when faulted by others for not leaping into the stratosphere of players already.
If I had been sitting there in 99 and you had come to me and said, OK, in 6 years time, you are going to accomplish this ' I would have been happy, of course. To be the sixth player in the world, playing quite well, winning tournaments all over the world ' of course I would have liked to win a major by now, but its not something that bothers me.
I definitely would have been happy if you had told me the way it would have been six years ago (in the future.) Its just a matter of getting better.
That attitude has frequently been criticized by some who say Garcia lacks the fire to be a major champion. And that criticism is entirely wrong, he asserts.
I know, and Ive always said, that I would love to (win a major) ' and I definitely have had my chances. I definitely did.
But its not something that bothers me that much at the moment. Fortunately, Im only 25. So if injuries and everything go all right, I should have a lot of time to win a major in the near future.
Still, Garcia understands his career has come in stops and starts, zooming to the highest of highs, crashing down to the lowest of lows. Look what has happened just since the Masters, the first major of the year. He missed the cut in that one. He rebounded to play a pretty good tournament at Wachovia, losing in a playoff. He was so-so in the Nelson, finishing in a tie for 35th. He slipped again at Colonial, missing the cut. But last week, he soared to victory.
When you come out, of course you never know how its gonna go, he confessed. You always think the best and just pray youre gonna do well.
Im not gonna lie to you, as soon as I turned pro in 1999, my goal was to keep my card in Europe, and if I could in America. I managed to do that and win a couple of tournaments (here in the U.S.) And from then on, after winning a couple of tournaments ' unfortunately I was hoping it was going to keep going that way.
Since Mickelson broke through at the Masters last year at the age of 33, the mantel of best player to have never won a major has been passed along ' by many ' to Garcia. That title, to many, is infuriating. To Garcia, its a title of respect ' though he certainly doesnt want to keep it forever.
I really take it as a compliment, he said. You know, I take the good part of it ' if youre telling me Im the best player to never win a major, it means that I certainly am a good player.
I know what I can do, but it certainly is nice to be recognized. But, as I said, Ive just got to wait for it, Ive just got to give it time. The harder you try to force it and make it happen, the harder it is. So Ive just got to let it happen.
It has been difficult for him, however, he concedes. It almost seems as though the excellence he exhibited at age 19, 20, 21 and 22 was too much. The almost at the PGA Championship in 99, a big victory at Ben Hogans old course, Colonial, in 2001, a win against the best of the tour in the 2002 Mercedes Championships, a couple of wins at Westchester was it too easy too soon?
The last two years I may have tried too hard, he conceded, put on so much pressure and expecting to do well and expecting to have a chance of winning. I know that if I just go out there and play my own game, I am going to have a chance. Because Ive showed it ' Ive showed that I have enough good enough game to have a chance of winning.
Unfortunately, that futile effort has exhibited itself too often with the putter, where he currently languishes in 151st place on the tour rankings.
Unfortunately, for the past, want to say, three years, it's been my downside, he said. The week where I putt more or less OK and I have a chance of winning or I win but some of the weeks it feels like I can't make putts.
Garcia has the flair, and the variety of shots, to make it happen. And if it happens to be a week when the putter is working, it COULD happen. In 2000, it seemed so close. It 2005, it really doesnt. But one good week, one strong major, and it will all come back again.
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    Minjee Lee co-leads Walmart NW Arkansas Championship

    By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 12:25 am

    ROGERS, Ark. - Minjee Lee wasn't all that concerned when she missed her first cut of the year this month at the ShopRite LPGA Classic.

    The ninth-ranked Australian has certainly looked at ease and back in form at Pinnacle Country Club in her first event since then.

    Lee and Japan's Nasa Hataoka each shot 6-under 65 on Saturday to share the second-round lead in the NW Arkansas Championship 13-under 129. Lee is chasing her fifth victory since turning pro three years ago. It's also an opportunity to put any lingering frustration over that missed cut two weeks ago behind her for good.

    ''I didn't particularly hit it bad, even though I missed the cut at ShopRite, I just didn't really hole any putts,'' Lee said. ''I'd been hitting it pretty solid going into that tournament and even into this tournament, too. Just to see a couple putts roll in has been nice.''

    The 22-year-old Lee needed only 24 putts during her opening 64 on Friday, helping her to match the low round of her career. Despite needing 28 putts Saturday, she still briefly took the outright lead after reaching as low as 14 under after a birdie on the par-5 seventh.

    Full-field scores from the Walmart Arkansas Championship

    Lee missed the green on the par-4 ninth soon thereafter to lead to her only bogey of the day and a tie with the 19-year-old Hataoka, who is in pursuit of her first career win.

    Hataoka birdied six of eight holes midway through her bogey-free round on Saturday. It was yet another stellar performance from the Japanese teenager, who has finished in the top 10 in four of her last five tournaments and will be a part of Sunday's final pairing.

    ''I try to make birdies and try to be under par, that's really the key for me to get a top ten,'' Hataoka said. ''Golf is just trying to be in the top 10 every single week, so that's the key.''

    Third-ranked Lexi Thompson matched the low round of the day with a 64 to get to 11 under. She hit 17 of 18 fairways and shot a 5-under 30 on her opening nine, The American is in search of her first win since September in the Indy Women in Tech Championship.

    Ariya Jutanugarn and Celine Boutier were 10 under.

    First-round leader Gaby Lopez followed her opening 63 with a 75 to drop to 4 under. Fellow former Arkansas star Stacy Lewis also was 4 under after a 72.

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    Henley will try to put heat on Casey in final round

    By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 11:55 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – While it will be a tall task for anyone to catch Paul Casey at the Travelers Championship, the man who will start the round most within reach of the Englishman is Russell Henley.

    Henley was in the penultimate group at TPC River Highlands on Saturday, but he’ll now anchor things during the final round as he looks to overcome a four-shot deficit behind Casey. After a 3-under 67, Henley sits at 12 under through 54 holes and one shot clear of the three players tied for third.

    Henley closed his third round with a run of five straight pars, then became the beneficiary of a pair of late bogeys from Brian Harman that left Henley alone in second place.

    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    “Could have made a couple more putts, but to end with two up-and-downs like that was nice,” Henley said. “I felt a little bit weird over the shots coming in, put me in some bad spots. But it was nice to have the short game to back me up.”

    Henley has won three times on Tour, most recently at the 2017 Houston Open, and he cracked the top 25 at both the Masters and U.S. Open. But with Casey riding a wave of confidence and coming off an 8-under 62 that marked the best round of the week, he knows he’ll have his work cut out for him in order to nab trophy No. 4.

    “I think I can shoot a low number on this course. You’ve got to make the putts,” Henley said. “I’m definitely hitting it well enough, and if I can get a couple putts to fall, that would be good. But I can’t control what he’s doing. I can just try to keep playing solid.”

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    Back from back injury, Casey eyeing another win

    By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 11:36 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Given his four-shot cushion at the Travelers Championship and his recent victory at the Valspar Championship, it’s easy to forget that Paul Casey hit the disabled list in between.

    Casey had to withdraw from The Players Championship because of a bad back, becoming the only player in the top 50 in the world rankings to miss the PGA Tour’s flagship event. He flew back to England to get treatment, and Casey admitted that his T-20 finish at last month’s BMW PGA Championship came while he was still on the mend.

    “I wasn’t 100 percent fit with the back injury, which was L-4, L-5, S-1 (vertebrae) all out of place,” Casey said. “Big inflammation, nerve pain down the leg and up the back. I didn’t know what was going on.”

    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Thanks in large part to a combination of MRIs, back adjustments and anti-inflammatories, Casey finally turned the corner. His T-16 finish at last week’s U.S. Open was the first event for which he felt fully healthy since before the Players, and he’s on the cusp of a second title since March after successfully battling through the injury.

    “We thought we were fixing it, but we weren’t. We were kind of hitting the effects rather than the cause,” Casey said. “Eventually we figured out the cause, which was structural.”

    Casey started the third round at TPC River Highlands two shots off the lead, but he’s now four clear of Russell Henley after firing an 8-under 62 that marked the low round of the week.

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    Bubba thinks he'll need a Sunday 60 to scare Casey

    By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 11:15 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Perhaps moreso than at most PGA Tour venues, a low score is never really out of reach at TPC River Highlands. Positioned as a welcome change of pace after the U.S. Open, the Travelers Championship offers a lush layout that often pushes the balance much closer to reward than risk.

    This is where Jim Furyk shot a 58 on the par-70 layout two years ago – and he didn’t even win that week. So even though Paul Casey enters the final round with a commanding four-shot lead, there’s still plenty of hope for the chase pack that something special could be in store.

    Count Bubba Watson among the group who still believe the title is up for grabs – even if it might require a Herculean effort, even by his standards.

    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Watson has won the Travelers twice, including in a 2015 playoff over Casey. But starting the final round in a large tie for sixth at 10 under, six shots behind Casey, he estimates that he’ll need to flirt with golf’s magic number to give the Englishman something to worry about.

    “My 7 under yesterday, I need to do better than that. I’m going to have to get to like 10 [under],” Watson said. “The only beauty is, getting out in front, you have a chance to put a number up and maybe scare them. But to scare them, you’re going to have to shoot 10 under at worst, where I’m at anyway.”

    Watson started the third round three shots off the lead, and he made an early move with birdies on Nos. 1 and 2 en route to an outward 32. The southpaw couldn’t sustain that momentum, as bogeys on Nos. 16 and 17 turned a potential 65 into a relatively disappointing 67.

    “Bad decision on the par-3, and then a very tough tee shot for me on 17, and it just creeped into the bunker,” Watson said. “Just, that’s golf. You have mistakes every once in a while.”