A green jacket and a white hat for Sergio

By Randall MellApril 10, 2017, 10:00 pm

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Sergio Garcia pulled off one of the great upsets of the modern era Sunday at the Masters.

Yes, few folks outside Garcia’s inner circle believed he could actually win a major championship, much less a green jacket, with such a formidable history of painful losses stacked against him, but the nature of this upset was even more stunning than that.

Over four hours at Augusta National, Garcia won the hearts and minds of American golf fans.

That’s your monumental upset.

That might have been more impossible for him to win than a major.

Garcia, 37, transformed before our very eyes Sunday, making the improbable journey from villain to hero with every step in his final-round odyssey.

The guy American golf fans loved to hate somehow turned himself into the guy American fans couldn’t help loving.

Justin Rose could feel it before he headed back to the 18th tee with Garcia for their playoff. He could feel it building down the stretch. With every setback overcome, Garcia won admiration and respect.

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Photo gallery: Sergio Garcia and Angela Akins

“Obviously, people felt strongly that it was his time,” Rose said.

Garcia felt it, too.

“This week was just amazing,” Garcia told the gathering at the green jacket ceremony. “I felt like I was back in Spain.”

For too long, Garcia was the whiny brat American golf fans loved to provoke. Garcia created a lot of his own problems. He was easy to bait.

If you’ve followed Garcia since his emergence as the teen phenom who challenged Tiger Woods at the ’99 PGA Championship at Medinah, you know the history. You know about the time he spit into the cup on the 13th hole at Doral after making a bogey. You know about the meltdown when he kicked a sign and threw one of his shoes in a tantrum over a ruling in a European Tour event. And the time he caught himself as he started to flip his middle finger at fans taunting him over the number of times he was waggling his club at the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black.

There were whiny complaints about the USGA favoring Tiger Woods in weather suspensions in that same U.S. Open, about how the golf gods were against him when he lost The Open at Carnoustie. And there have been his personal issues with Woods and Padraig Harrington ...

The thing is, Garcia’s transformation didn’t really happen over four hours Sunday. Rose and others who know him have seen the change for a long time now. They’ve seen Garcia become more accountable for his lot in life. They’ve seen the work he’s doing.

That’s why Rose liked seeing Augusta National patrons embrace Garcia.

“It’s good for Sergio,” Rose said. “Often, he feels like he's not supported the way he would like to be here in America, and it was encouraging to see the crowd get behind him. I think that they realized that he paid his dues, and they realized that he's been close so many times.”

Garcia gets heckled as much as any player in the game. Just a month ago, Honda Classic fans in the Bear Trap’s 17th hole heaped abuse on him.

“Hope your marriage fails,” one fan shouted.

Garcia, who is engaged to be married in July, didn’t like the crack, but he didn’t retaliate.

Two years ago, he was hounded by hecklers at The Players Championship, when he battled Rickie Fowler down the stretch. Garcia handled the verbal assault with total class. He was a model of restraint and grace under fire.

Yeah, Garcia has a history, but there’s a lot to admire in how far he has come, in what he’s overcoming in himself.

Garcia is engaged to an American, Angela Akins. He says she is part of the “good help” working on him.

“Good help is everybody around me that is making me not only a better golfer but a better person,” Garcia said. “It’s not easy, because I know how much of a hard‑headed man I can be sometimes, but it's been great.

“The most positive thing is that I feel like I have so much room for improvement. I'm excited.  Obviously, I'm 37, I'm not 22 or 25 anymore, but I feel I still have a lot of great years in me. And I'm excited for those.”

It seems as if the more Garcia shows he is at peace with himself, the more we’re going to be at peace with him.

Garcia is a dynamic player, one of the great drivers of the ball in the game. And he seems to be beating the flaws in his putting stroke as forcefully as he’s beating the flaws in his fiery temperament.

So Garcia may be right. Now that he has won a major, now that American golf fans may actually root for him instead of against, we might not have seen his best yet. We might not have seen his last major championship triumph.

“I think he's going to have a happy summer,” Rose said. “I think we've always known that Sergio is an emotional kind of guy on and off the golf course, and when it's all clicking, he's one of the best in the world. I think that it is going to set up just a really, really happy and wonderful year for him.”

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Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 10:15 am

Following an even-par 71 in the first round of the 147th Open Championship, Tiger Woods looks to make a move on Day 2 at Carnoustie.

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McIlroy responds to Harmon's 'robot' criticism

By Mercer BaggsJuly 20, 2018, 6:53 am

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy said during his pre-championship news conference that he wanted to play more "carefree" – citing Jon Rahm’s approach now and the way McIlroy played in his younger days.

McIlroy got off to a good start Thursday at Carnoustie, shooting 2-under 69, good for a share of eighth place.

But while McIlroy admits to wanting to be a little less structured on the course, he took offense to comments made by swing coach Butch Harmon during a Sky Sports telecast.

Said Harmon:

“Rory had this spell when he wasn’t putting good and hitting the ball good, and he got so wrapped up in how he was going to do it he forgot how to do it.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“He is one of the best players the game has ever seen. If he would just go back to being a kid and playing the way he won these championships and play your game, don’t have any fear or robotic thoughts. Just play golf. Just go do it.

“This is a young kid who’s still one of the best players in the world. He needs to understand that. Forget about your brand and your endorsement contracts. Forget about all that. Just go back to having fun playing golf. I still think he is one of the best in the world and can be No.1 again if he just lets himself do it.”

McIlroy, who has never worked with Harmon, responded to the comments when asked about them following his opening round.

“Look, I like Butch. Definitely, I would say I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum than someone that's mechanical and someone that's – you know, it's easy to make comments when you don't know what's happening,” McIlroy said. “I haven't spoken to Butch in a long time. He doesn't know what I'm working on in my swing. He doesn't know what's in my head. So it's easy to make comments and easy to speculate. But unless you actually know what's happening, I just really don't take any notice of it.”

McIlroy second round at The Open began at 2:52 a.m. ET.

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How The Open cut line is determined

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 5:57 am

Scores on Day 1 of the 147th Open Championship ranged from 5-under 66 to 11-over 82.

The field of 156 players will be cut nearly in half for weekend play at Carnoustie. Here’s how the cut line works in the season’s third major championship:

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

• After 36 holes, the low 70 players and ties will advance to compete in the final two rounds. Anyone finishing worse than that will get the boot. Only those making the cut earn official money from the $10.5 million purse.

• There is no 10-shot rule. That rule means anyone within 10 shots of the lead after two rounds, regardless of where they stand in the championship, make the cut. It’s just a flat top 70 finishers and ties.

• There is only a single cut at The Open. PGA Tour events employ an MDF (Made cut Did not Finish) rule, which narrows the field after the third round if more than 78 players make the cut. That is not used at this major.

The projected cut line after the first round this week was 1 over par, which included 71 players tied for 50th or better.

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How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 5:30 am

You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on GolfChannel.com.  

Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

(All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; GC.com=GolfChannel.com or check the GLE app)

Monday, July 16

GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Tuesday, July 17

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Wednesday, July 18

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Thursday, July 19

GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Friday, July 20

GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Saturday, July 21

GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Sunday, July 22

GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)