Sergio firestorm won't die down anytime soon

By Jason SobelMay 22, 2013, 3:18 pm

This is going to sound like a terrible contradiction, but Sergio Garcia’s greatest strength has always been his biggest weakness: He says whatever is on his mind, at any time, to anyone, regardless of potential repercussions. It is this lack of filter that has made him so polarizing. It has also turned an endearing guy into one widely detested by the masses.

As it turns out, being the world’s most honest professional golfer isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

In the past, it’s this personality trait that has allowed Garcia to suggest that Tiger Woods would have received preferential treatment during a U.S. Open round that wasn’t delayed despite a downpour. It has let him condemn a higher power for conspiring against him when hitting the flagstick during an Open Championship playoff. It has forced him to blame Woods when crowd noise occurred before his swing at The Players Championship.

And it has ultimately turned an often petulant, underachieving golfer into this polarizing figure, simple because he’s always one thought process away from making an insolent or insular comment.



Never before, though – not in any of those previous situations – has Garcia’s greatest strength and biggest weakness gotten him into so much trouble. And rightfully so.

You know the story by now. During a European Tour gala on Tuesday, Golf Channel’s Steve Sands, serving as emcee, asked Garcia whether he’d invite Woods to dinner during the U.S. Open after their most recent public spat. He responded: “We will have him round every night. We will serve fried chicken.” 

In the court of public opinion, where Garcia was already guilty until proven innocent for other, more innocuous comments, he was immediately and fittingly flogged for what can only be perceived as a racially motivated jab. The comment quickly recalled Fuzzy Zoeller’s own shot at Woods’ heritage prior to the 1997 Masters, for which he was similarly lambasted.

That didn’t stop Garcia from trying to wish it all away. He apologized, over and over. He begged for forgiveness. He said he’d call Woods soon and try to smooth things over, saying those apologies directly to his target.

None of it is going to make this story go away.

In the aftermath, the questions will come fast and, mostly, furious. Is Garcia a racist? Why would a non-racist person make a racially motivated joke? Did he even know it was racially motivated? If not, why choose that very comment at that very moment?

“I couldn’t sleep last night,” Garcia said during a Wednesday news conference. “I felt like my heart was going to come out of my body. Unfortunately, I said it. I wish I didn’t do it, but the only thing I can do is say sorry.”

If we’ve learned anything about Garcia in the years since he quickly rose to prominence as a 19-year-old, exuberant, scissor-kicking phenom at the 1999 PGA Championship, where he lost to Woods, it’s that he tells the truth. Again, it’s his greatest strength and his biggest weakness.

When analyzing, examining and debating this latest headline-grabber from all angles, we should keep this information handy. Garcia likely invoked the fried chicken line because it was the first thing that popped into his mind – and he always says what’s on his mind. By the same token, he profusely apologized for the comment because he honestly and sincerely regrets it; though, it can be argued whether he more greatly regrets the racially charged insinuation itself or the maelstrom it has caused.

For his part, Woods did his best to defuse the situation.

“The comment that was made wasn’t silly. It was wrong, hurtful and clearly inappropriate,” he tweeted Wednesday. “I’m confident that there is real regret that the remark was made. The Players ended nearly two weeks ago and it’s long past time to move on and talk about golf.”

Those words are the social media equivalent to landing a right cross to Garcia’s chin for his comments, then helping him to his feet and tending to his wounds.

Others won’t be so kind.

Eleven years ago, Garcia came to the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black with a bad case of the waggles. The New York galleries were merciless toward him, yelling with gusto for him to hit the ball in a timely fashion. Much to his personality, Garcia told them what he thought of those comments, extending a middle finger toward the crowd on one occasion.

If he thought that was bad, just wait until this year’s edition of that event. Garcia will be heading to Merion Golf Club soon, just outside of Philadelphia, where – since we’re on the subject of stereotypes – fans have booed Santa Claus and assaulted athletes with batteries. Sure, each incident occurred years ago and the locals aren’t proud of the label, but New Yorkers yelling about waggles should have nothing on Philadelphians yelling about racially motivated comments.

As he’s always done, Garcia will react openly and honestly. That’s the only way he knows. It’s gotten him into trouble before, but never like this. He’s asking for forgiveness, but for a man who has always said what he feels, he’s about to receive a taste of his own medicine.

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With Woods living up to his legend, Tiger-mania is back

By Rex HoggardAugust 21, 2018, 4:13 pm

PARAMUS, N.J. – Just two weeks ago at the PGA Championship, fans pushed in along every corner of Bellerive’s 18th hole chanting, “Let’s go Tiger,” undeterred by the oppressive heat or the hopelessness of Tiger Woods’ title chances.

It was a fitting send-off for a player who would come up two strokes short in his quest to win his 80th PGA Tour title and his 15th major championship, not to mention an apropos snapshot of the massive St. Louis galleries who cheered Tiger’s every step.

It was also a sign of the times for the game’s most recognizable athlete.

Since Woods embarked on this most recent comeback from injury, the sense of excitement has steadily built. What began as a curiosity now looks like certainty.

Woods has repeatedly explained the 2018 season was always going to be filled with more questions than answers. He didn’t know how his repaired back would hold up under the pressure of competition or what swing he would have.

Fan didn’t know which Tiger would arrive on the first tee each week – Vintage Woods or the often-injured guy who managed to play just 19 events the last four years.

As Woods progressed, the answer seemed to be the former, with Tiger electrifying fans at the Valspar Championship on his way to a tie for second place.

“This entire year has been so different,” Woods said on Tuesday at The Northern Trust, his first playoff start since 2013. “I've had excitement. I've had people into it over the years, but this has been so different. We go back to how everyone received me at Tampa, that was very special and I had not received ovations and warmth like that.”

Woods tied for fifth at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and fourth at the Quicken Loans National. Despite Tiger's regular calls for patience and perspective, a fan base that was reluctant to dive back in with a self-described medical miracle is now wading into the deep end.

This zeal has built to a crescendo, with the PGA Championship emerging as the new raucous standard.

“I’ve played with him a lot during that time [in his prime],” Stewart Cink said late Sunday at Bellerive. “After the round yesterday, I commented it sounded like the old times, but the truth is it was more intense yesterday then I remember it being at any time.”


The Northern Trust: Articles, photos and videos


A portion of that Bellerive buzz was the byproduct of a community starved for major championship golf. And, to be fair, eventual champion Brooks Koepka earned his share of cheers for his third major triumph in his last six major starts. But the majority of that fervor was attibutable to Woods’ play.

Woods is not playing the role of ceremonial golfer and this is not a farewell tour. For the first time in a long time, his play has lived up to his legend.

There’s nothing better in sports then a comeback, and Woods may end up being the most compelling reclamation project golf has seen in decades.

“I think that everyone can relate to that because they have all gone through it. Everyone has got aches and pains, and whether you've had kids or not, you get to your 40s, you're feeling it, and I'm not the only one,” Woods explained. “The only difference is I'm an athlete and I'm playing at a high level and one of the best players in the world as what I do for a living. That's hard. People understand that. They understand, trying to compete against the younger generation, and it gets a little more difficult.”

Although Woods has given fans plenty to cheer along the way, this is about more than numbers on a scorecard. Approaching his 43rd birthday in December, Tiger has embraced his newfound health as much more than simply another competitive chapter. Woods’ comeback has been defined by a perspective that only comes when one faces their own competitive mortality.

He’s openly appreciative of this opportunity, and the crowds seem to realize that.

“I think that people are more, I guess appreciative. I don't want to make that sound wrong or anything but they know that I'm at the tail end of my career, and I don't know how many more years I have left,” he said. “I'm certainly not like I was when I was 22. Forty-two, it's a different ballgame.”

There’s still plenty of competitive compartmentalization, as evidenced by the all-too-familiar scowl he wore on Sunday at Bellerive. The difference, however, is that he’s more willing to offer the world a glimpse of a softer side where the sharp edges have been dulled by age and injury. On Tuesday, he was asked about his relationship with the crowds that line every fairway.

“Unfortunately, I've gotten to know a lot of them because I've hit a lot of wayward balls. I've signed a lot more gloves this year than I have in the past,” he laughed.

He’s also introduced an entirely new generation of fans to a concept only those of a certain age could previously understand: Tiger-mania.

Vandalized green at Sunshine Tour event (Micheal Hollick/Twitter) Getty Images

Vandals damage greens at site of Sunshine Tour event

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 21, 2018, 3:20 pm

This week's Sunshine Tour event will continue as scheduled despite at least six greens being vandalized.

Sunshine Tour player Michael Hollick posted to his Facebook page photos of greens at Wild Coast Sun Country Club in Port Edward, South Africa, showing severe damage.

He stated that disgruntled former employees were to blame.

"So the local community near the Wild Coast Sun weren’t happy about something so what do they do.... they go onto the golf course and dig up the last 6 greens!! Boggles my mind what goes through the heads of some people..... apparently there were some staff fired for illegal striking this past week and this was their retaliation."

Here's a look at the photos posted by Hollick:




Vandals also left a message on a flag that stated: "This Is The Start."

The Sunshine Tour stated that the event, the Sun Wild Coast Sun Challenge, will still start on Wednesday, and that the tour has increased security measures. Here's a look at how the diligent grounds crew has repaired the putting surfaces:

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NBC Sports Group to Air More Than 70 Live Tournament Hours of FedExCup Playoffs

By Golf Channel Public RelationsAugust 21, 2018, 2:35 pm

Coverage Begins with First Round of The Northern Trust on Golf Channel; Final Three Playoff Events Airing Across Both Golf Channel & NBC

Following last week’s Wyndham Championship – the 44th and final event of the 2017-18 campaign – the PGA TOUR this week kicks off its season-culminating FedExCup Playoffs, with a $10 million first-place prize on the line at the conclusion of next month’s TOUR Championship. Beginning with the opening round of The Northern Trust on Thursday, NBC Sports Group in total will showcase more than 70 hours of live tournament coverage spanning across the four playoff events, including the final three stops airing exclusively across Golf Channel and NBC.

Being staged at Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, N.J., The Northern Trust will feature the top-125 players in the FedExCup standings having earned their PGA TOUR card for the 2018-19 season. Golf Channel will air live early round coverage on Thursday-Friday, Aug. 23-24, along with lead-in coverage on Saturday-Sunday, Aug. 25-26.

The following week, the top-100 players will be eligible to take part in the Dell Technologies Championship (Aug. 31-Sept. 3) at TPC Boston in Norton, Mass., the first of the final three events that will air exclusively on Golf Channel (Thursday-Friday, weekend lead-in coverage) and NBC (Saturday-Sunday). The top-70 players then will advance to the BMW Championship (Sept. 6-9) at Aronimink Golf Club outside of Philadelphia, and ultimately, the top-30 will go on to the TOUR Championship (Sept. 20-23) at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.

BROADCAST TEAMS:

Event

Play-by-Play Host

Lead Analyst

Tower

On-Course

Reporter

The Northern Trust

Rich Lerner

Nick Faldo

Matt Gogel

Billy Ray Brown

Todd Lewis

Dell Technologies Championship

Dan Hicks

Steve Sands

Johnny Miller

Frank Nobilo

Gary Koch

Peter Jacobsen

Roger Maltbie, David Feherty, Notah Begay, Jim “Bones” Mackay

Steve Sands

George Savaricas

BMW Championship

Dan Hicks

Steve Sands

Johnny Miller

Gary Koch

Peter Jacobsen

David Feherty

Roger Maltbie, Mark Rolfing, Notah Begay, Jim “Bones” Mackay

Steve Sands, Todd Lewis

Jimmy Roberts (Essays)

TOUR Championship

Dan Hicks

 

Johnny Miller

Frank Nobilo

Gary Koch Peter Jacobsen David Feherty

Roger Maltbie, Notah Begay, Jim “Bones” Mackay

Steve Sands, Todd Lewis

Jimmy Roberts (Essays)

 

NEWS COVERAGE: Golf Channel’s news programs, Golf Central and Morning Drive, will provide comprehensive wraparound news coverage throughout the FedExCup Playoffs with interviews, highlights, on-site reports and features. Golf Channel analysts, including Notah Begay, Brandel Chamblee, David Duval, Trevor Immelman and Mark Rolfing, all will contribute to pre-and-post round coverage on Golf Central during the course of the playoff events. Chantel McCabe and Brian Bateman also will contribute to Morning Drive on-site from TPC Boston at the Dell Technologies Championship, Friday-Monday.

“PGA TOUR LIVE” TO COMPLEMENT NBC SPORTS’ LIVE TOURNAMENT COVERAGE

In addition to NBC Sports Group’s more than 70 dedicated live hours of tournament coverage surrounding the FedExCup Playoffs, fans also will have an opportunity to follow the action via PGA TOUR LIVE. Coverage of “Featured Groups” will be available during first and second round play at each of the four events leading up to linear broadcast coverage, along with “Featured Holes” during all rounds throughout the Playoffs airing concurrently during live broadcast coverage.

DIGITAL AND SOCIAL MEDIA COVERAGE

Golf Channel Digital will have comprehensive editorial coverage of the FedExCup Playoffs with columns and daily blogs. Coverage across the four playoff events will be led by Jay Coffin and Rex Hoggard (The Northern Trust); Hoggard and Will Gray (Dell Technologies Championship); Ryan Lavner and Nick Menta (BMW Championship); Hoggard and Mercer Baggs (TOUR Championship).

Golf Channel’s social media platforms – Twitter, Facebook and Instagram – will provide expanded social coverage surrounding the final stretch of the season. Golf Channel and NBC also will integrate social media content throughout its live tournament telecasts, incorporating social media posts from players and fans. News and tournament action surrounding the FedExCup Playoffs can be accessed at any time on any mobile device and online via Golf Channel Digital. Fans also can stream NBC Sports’ coverage of live golf via NBC Sports.com and the NBC Sports App.

NBC SPORTS’ FEDEXCUP PLAYOFFS LIVE TOURNAMENT COVERAGE (ET)

 

The Northern Trust (Aug. 23-26)

Thursday, Aug. 23                  7:30 a.m.-3 p.m. (Featured Groups)  PGA TOUR LIVE

                                              2-6 p.m. (Live)                                   Golf Channel

Friday, Aug. 24                       7:30 a.m.-3 p.m. (Features Groups)   PGA TOUR LIVE

                                              2-6 p.m. (Live)                                   Golf Channel

Saturday, Aug. 25                   1-2:45 p.m. (Live)                              Golf Channel

Sunday, Aug. 26                     Noon-1:45 p.m. (Live)                        Golf Channel

Dell Technologies Championship (Aug. 31-Sept. 3)

Friday, Aug. 31                       8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. (Featured Groups)  PGA TOUR LIVE

                                              2:30-6:30 p.m. (Live)                         Golf Channel

Saturday, Sept. 1                    8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. (Featured Groups)  PGA TOUR LIVE

                                              3-6:30 p.m. (Live)                              Golf Channel

Sunday, Sept. 2                      1-3 p.m. (Live)                                   Golf Channel

                                              3-6 p.m. (Live)                                   NBC

Monday, Sept. 3                     11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. (Live)               Golf Channel

                                              1:30-6 p.m. (Live)                              NBC

BMW Championship (Sept. 6-9)

Thursday, Sept. 6                    11 a.m.-3 p.m. (Featured Groups)      PGA TOUR LIVE

                                               2-6 p.m. (Live)                                   Golf Channel

Friday, Sept. 7                        11 a.m.-3 p.m. (Featured Groups)      PGA TOUR LIVE

                                              2-6 p.m. (Live)                                   Golf Channel

Saturday, Sept. 8                    Noon-3:30 p.m. (Live)                       NBC

                                              3:30-6 p.m. (Live)                              Golf Channel

Sunday, Sept. 9                       Noon-2 p.m. (Live)                            Golf Channel

                                              2-6 p.m. (Live)                                   NBC

TOUR Championship (Sept. 20-23)

Thursday, Sept. 20                  10 a.m.-1 p.m. (Featured Groups)      PGA TOUR LIVE

                                               1-6 p.m. (Live)                                   Golf Channel

Friday, Sept. 21                      10 a.m.-1 p.m. (Featured Groups)      PGA TOUR LIVE

                                              1-6 p.m. (Live)                                   Golf Channel

Saturday, Sept. 22                  12:30-2:30 p.m. (Live)                       Golf Channel

                                              2:30-6:30 p.m. (Live)                         NBC

Sunday, Sept. 23                     Noon-1:30 p.m. (Live)                       Golf Channel

                                              1:30-6 p.m. (Live)                              NBC

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Woods talks about Ryder Cup prospects in third person

By Ryan LavnerAugust 21, 2018, 1:47 pm

Conversations between Jim Furyk and Tiger Woods have gotten a little awkward.

That’s what happens when Woods, the U.S. Ryder Cup vice captain, needs to assess the prospects of Woods, the player.

“We’re talking about myself in the third person a lot,” he said with a chuckle Tuesday at the Northern Trust Open. “That’s one of the most interesting conversations I’ve ever had and I’m having a lot of fun with it.

“I’m one of the guys on the short list, and sometimes I have to pull myself out of there and talk about myself in the third person, which is a little odd.”


The Northern Trust: Articles, photos and videos


After placing second at the PGA Championship, Woods finished 11th on the U.S. points list with just eight months of tournament results. Three of Furyk’s four captain’s picks will be announced after the BMW Championship in three weeks, and barring a late injury, it’s almost a certainty that Woods will be one of those selected.

Still, Woods was named in February as an assistant for his third consecutive team competition, even though he told Furyk at the beginning of the year that he envisioned himself as a player on the 2018 squad.

“I’m very close to making that happen,” he said. “It’s been a long year, and that’s been one of my goals, to make the team. To be a part of that team you have to be one of the 12 best players, and I’m trending toward that.”