Garcia still facing questions about Tiger comments

By Jason SobelMay 4, 2014, 8:16 pm

Sergio Garcia doesn't want to talk, which is unfailingly ironic, because talking too much is the very reason he's being asked to talk again on this rainy afternoon in the foothills of Georgia. It is one day after the Masters Tournament ended – and three days after Garcia’s own Masters ended, the result of a missed cut which probably isn't helping his overall mood.

He is being asked to talk because we are quickly approaching the one-year milestone of his infamous public squabble with Tiger Woods during The Players Championship, when Garcia accused him of unsportsmanlike conduct. He said Woods riled up the crowd while the two were paired together in the third round, which disrupted Garcia's shot to the par-5 second. A war of words ensued. Then there was the even more infamous comment just a week-and-a-half later. When questioned at a formal European Tour function about whether he’d have dinner with the multicultural Woods prior to the U.S. Open, Garcia answered, “We’ll have him 'round every night. We will serve fried chicken.”

It was hardly an isolated incident of speaking out of turn. Over the years, Garcia has blamed tournament officials for giving preferential treatment to Woods and the golf gods for giving preferential treatment to, well, everyone but himself.

On each of these occasions, it was talking that got him into trouble. Whereas most professional athletes own a protective filter between their innermost thoughts and spoken words, Garcia has no such filter, which serves as both one of his most endearing qualities and greatest sins. He is unmistakably honest in a role that doesn’t always reward honesty. He is coolly forthright even when his thoughts are best left unsaid.

This time he is being offered a forum. A pulpit on which to preach what he’s learned, how he’s changed and – once again – how much he’d like to echo his apology following that comment. This will be a clear-the-air moment. This will be an opportunity to counsel the world on how he’s evolved, how he understands the need for such a filter, how he’s become a stronger person since the controversy and how he’s found happiness in the wake of such remorse.

This is no sneak attack. His handlers – agents, managers, sponsors and PR wags – have been briefed on the nature of this interview. They understand that he will be given a platform on which to reiterate his thoughts and hopefully, in their minds, put it to rest forever.

Garcia doesn’t want to talk, though. He doesn’t want to relive the past, doesn’t want to answer questions about a situation he has clearly tried to place behind him. He tells the handlers he won’t be discussing this today, no matter the prior arrangement.

But this is his chance to get ahead of the story and address it in a casual setting before the one-year checkpoint, they are told.

He has no interest in recalling any of that, they answer.

But this is his opportunity to get ahead of the expected media crush during Players Championship week and maybe even defer any questions to this interview, they are told.

He knows he’ll only be asked about it again and again, they answer.

And so Garcia doesn’t speak about any of it, at least not in specific terms. Instead, he compromises. He answers questions in generalities – about his career, about his ongoing maturity, about his life.

He is asked how difficult it is to play golf when things are unsettled off the course.

“When you're going through a tough time outside the golf course, there's a lot more things to worry about,” he says. “Which is normal; we all go through those things through life. But it's nice when things are lined up nicely.”

He is asked about being misunderstood by the public.

“I like to be myself; I don't want to be two different persons. Obviously, I think sometimes you say things that either you regret or come wrong at that time. But at the end of the day, like I've always said, I try to be the way I am. I think that's one of the reasons why the people like me.”

He is asked about being too open with his feelings.

“Sometimes being too honest is not the best thing, because even though you're trying to say what you feel or what you think is right, people are not going to see it that way. … I still try to be myself as much as I can and try to present myself as open and honest as I can really be.”

In a way, he speaks about last year’s tribulations without ever directly addressing them.

That probably won’t be the case this week. With Woods, the defending champion, still on the disabled list, Garcia will arrive on the PGA Tour’s home turf Tuesday morning as potentially the biggest story. He won this event in 2008 and nearly did so a year ago before pumping two balls into the water on the par-3 17th on Sunday. Inquiring minds will attempt to uncover how last year’s incidents - particularly of the verbal variety - have impacted him and whether there remain any lingering side effects.

He still won’t want to talk about it – and maybe he won’t, continuing in his decision to not relive the past. He's not slated to give a news conference.

If he does speak, however, expect him to be honest again. This is a personality trait which has stayed with him throughout his career. It’s difficult to believe that will now change.

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Match-by-match: WGC-Dell Technologies, Sweet 16

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 24, 2018, 4:00 pm

Here is how things played out in the Round of 16 on Saturday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. The week began with 64 players taking on Austin Country Club,but the field is dwindling. Click here for Day 3 match results:

Match 97: Bubba Watson (35) def. Brian Harman (18), 2 and 1. Watson was 1 down going to the eighth hole, but he won four of the next five holes to turn around this battle of lefties. A 12-foot putt for eagle at the 12th dropped, giving him a 3 up lead coming home. It was Watson’s second eagle of the day. He looks as if he’s still riding the confidence from that Genesis Open victory last month. Watson will advance to play the winner of the Kiradech Aphibarnrat/Charles Howell III match in the quarterfinals.  

Match 100: Justin Thomas (2) def. Si Woo Kim (50), 6 and 5. Thomas remains on fire in this format, steamrolling Kim a day after completing a round-robin sweep of his group by blowing away Francesco Molinari, 7 and 5. The Kim match felt like it was over shortly after it started, with Thomas making the turn 5 up. Thomas will advance to play the winner of the Sergio Garcia/Kyle Stanley match in the quarterfinals.  

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Winning on Kerr's mind this week and beyond

By Randall MellMarch 24, 2018, 2:11 am

Cristie Kerr moved into position Friday to do more than win the 21st LPGA title of her career.

She moved into position to claim an LPGA Hall of Fame point this week.

Yes, winning is foremost on her mind at the Kia Classic, where she took the lead with an 8-under-par 64 in the second round, she’s on a larger quest, too.

After turning 40 last fall, Kerr was asked what her goals are.

“The Hall of Fame is attainable, if I stick with it,” she said.

Kerr is five shots ahead of Lizette Salas (67), In-Kyung Kim (69), Hee Young Park (70) and Caroline Hedwall (70).

It’s a good time for Kerr to get on a hot streak, with the year’s first major championship, the ANA Inspiration, next week. She has long been one of the best putters in the women’s game, but her ball-striking is impressive this week. She hit 17 greens in regulation Thursday, and she hit 16 on Friday.

“I like winning,” Kerr said. “I like challenging myself. Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older, with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, `Man, why does my hamstring hurt?’ From working around this hilly golf course.”

Kerr acknowledged Friday that her body is more vulnerable to time’s realities, but her mind isn’t.

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

“The golf ball doesn't know an age,” Kerr said. “I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.”

Kerr won two weeks after her 40th birthday last fall, boosting her LPGA Hall of Fame point total to 22. She is five points short of eligibility for induction. A player earns one point for an LPGA victory and two points for a major championship title. So there’s a lot of Hall of Fame ground to gain this week and next.

It’s a long-term goal that motivates Kerr to take care of her body.

“I don't think the golf changes,” Kerr said. “I think, physically, it gets harder as you get older. Like I said, I've got tape on my hamstring. I strained it, just a little bit yesterday, walking around this golf course. It's tough as you get older, just being fresh and rested. I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.”

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Big names chasing Kerr into the weekend at Kia Classic

By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 1:55 am

CARLSBAD, Calif. - Cristie Kerr shot an 8-under 64 on Friday in the Kia Classic to take a five-stroke lead into the weekend.

The 40-year-old Kerr had eight birdies in her second straight bogey-free round to reach 13-under 131 at rain-softened Aviara.

''I like winning. I like challenging myself,'' Kerr said. ''Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, 'Man, why does my hamstring hurt?' From working around this hilly golf course. The golf ball doesn't know an age. I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.''

She has 20 LPGA victories, winning at Aviara in 2015. She won twice last year and helped the U.S. beat Europe in her ninth Solheim Cup appearance.

''It's tough as you get older just being fresh and rested,'' Kerr said. ''I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.''

Lizette Salas, In-Kyung Kim, Hee Young Park and Caroline Hedwall were tied for second. Salas shot 67, Kim 69, and Park and Hedwall 70.

''I really like this golf course. I really like the environment,'' said Salas, the former University of Southern California player from Azusa. ''My family gets to come out. So much confidence at the beginning of the week, and definitely showed the first two days.

Jeong Eun Lee was 7 under after a 69, and defending ANA champion So Yeon Ryu had a 70 to get to 6 under.

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

Ariya Jutanugarn (72), Brooke Henderson (70) and 2016 winner Lydia Ko (71) were 5 under. Shanshan Feng (68) was another stroke back, and Singapore winner Michelle Wie (72) was 1 under.

Lexi Thompson was 2 over after a 74, making the cut on the number in the final event before the major ANA Inspiration next week at Mission Hills.

Kerr opened with birdies on the par-5 10th and par-3 11th, added birdies on the par-4 16th, 18th and second, and ran off three in a row on the par-3 sixth, par-4 seventh and par-5 eighth.

''I don't think you can fall asleep on one shot,'' Kerr said. ''It's a really good golf course. I think I play better on courses that demand the focus, so I think that's why I've played well here in the past. ... I'm trying not to put limits on myself right now. I've got some good things going on with my swing.''

She has long been one best putters and green-readers in the world.

''I can see the subtleties that a lot of people can't,'' Kerr said. ''It's a gift from God being able to do that. I've always had that, so I'm lucky.''

Laura Davies withdrew after an opening 82. The 54-year-old Davies tied for second last week in the Founders Cup in Phoenix, playing through painful left Achilles and calf problems.

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DJ hits 489-yard drive, but it doesn't count for history

By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 12:22 am

AUSTIN, Texas – Dustin Johnson is no stranger to big drives, but even for DJ this one was impressive.

Trailing in his Day 3 match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Johnson launched a drive at the par-5 12th hole that traveled 489 yards, but that number comes with an asterisk.

“He got lucky it hit the road,” smiled Kevin Kisner, who was leading the world No. 1, 3 up, at the time. “I thought he would make an eagle for sure, he only had 80 yards [to the hole]. He didn’t hit a very good putt.”

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

Johnson’s drive, which was 139 yards past Kisner’s tee shot, is the longest recorded on the PGA Tour in the ShotLink era, surpassing Davis Love III’s drive of 476 yards in 2004 at the Tournament of Champions.

The drive will not go into the record books, however, because the Tour doesn’t count statistics from the Match Play.

It should also be noted, Kisner halved the 12th hole with a birdie and won the match, 4 and 3, to advance to the round of 16.