Sergio Steals the Show at Booz Allen

By Sports NetworkJune 12, 2005, 4:00 pm
BETHESDA, Md. -- Sergio Garcia fired a 6-under 65 Sunday to win the Booz Allen Classic. Garcia finished the event at 14-under-par 270, two strokes clear of three players.
Davis Love III posted a 5-under 66 to climb into a tie for second place at 12-under-par 272. He was joined there by Ben Crane (67) and 2004 champion Adam Scott (68). Ryuji Imada posted a 67 to take fifth place at minus-10.
'I had a great week all week. I felt the course has been playing up to my game as the week went on, as it got a bit firmer,' said Garcia, who earned $900,000 for the win. 'I had good a beginning today. I was hitting really, really soft shots.'
Sergio Garcia
Sergio Garcia posted a 6-under 65 to beat out the likes of Adam Scott, Ernie Els and Davis Love.
Tom Kite, who owned the third round lead at Congressional Country Club's Blue Course, struggled to a 3-over 74. He ended in a tie for 13th at 7-under-par 277.
The 55-year-old Kite was looking for his first PGA Tour win since the 1993 Los Angeles Open.
Garcia, who won for the sixth time on the PGA Tour, opened with a 14-foot birdie putt on the first. He then dropped his second shot within 4 feet of the cup at the fourth to get to 10 under.
The Spaniard ran home an 18-foot eagle putt at the sixth to move into a tie for the lead. Garcia came right back to birdie No. 7 and move one shot clear of the field.
The 25-year-old birdied the ninth to move two shots clear of Ernie Els. Garcia made it two in a row as he birdied the 10th. After four consecutive pars, he missed the green at the par-5 15th and was unable to save par.
Garcia bounced back with a birdie on the 16th from 22 feet out. Clinging to a two-shot lead heading to the 18th tee, Garcia faced a daunting tee shot with water left of the green.
He missed the green in the right rough. Scott, who could have forced a playoff, found the water directly behind Garcia at 17. Scott bogeyed the hole and that was the cushion Garcia needed. He was unable to get up and down for his par at the last, but the bogey was good enough to give him the win.
With this victory, three of Garcia's six wins have come the week before the U.S. Open.
'I guess I have had the chance of playing great courses the week before the U.S. Open, Westchester twice and also here at the Congressional,' Garcia said. 'It is the tougher courses I feel good playing. I'm definitely looking forward to next week and hopefully I can get it going like this week and give myself a chance.'
Crane, a notoriously slow player, finished second despite some difficulties with his playing partner, Rory Sabbatini, down the stretch. Crane posted four birdies and one bogey on the front nine.
The 29-year-old moved to 12 under with a birdie on 12. Crane struggled to a bogey at the 14th. At that point, the duo was put on the clock due to slow play. Crane parred his next three holes, but Sabbatini wasn't always watching.
On the 17th, Crane was preparing to hit his second shot while Sabbatini was already behind the green waiting to play his fourth after his second shot found water over the green.
Crane knocked his shot on the green. While he was walking up, Sabbatini took his drop and played his fourth. As Crane walked onto the green Sabbatini putted out, then walked to the 18th tee without watching his playing partner finish out. Crane two-putted for par.
Sabbatini closed with a two-putt par at the last after Crane ran in a 30-foot birdie putt to share second.
'As most everyone knows, Rory is a fast player and I am a slow player,' said Crane of the situation. 'The only reason we were on the clock was because of me. Is Rory out of line? No, not really because I'm the one that got us on the clock. It's really an unfortunate situation and I understand how he feels. I do feel bad we got put on the clock.'
Love moved to 9 under with three birdies and a bogey on the front nine. He played the back nine in 3 under to share second place.
Scott, who taught Garcia a new practice drill for his putting earlier in the week, moved to 13 under thanks to four birdies over his opening 15 holes. However, at the 17th, Scott's approach shot bounced off the green, through a bunker and into the water behind the green. That led to a bogey and his sharing second.
Sabbatini finished alone in sixth place at 9-under-par 275. Stuart Appleby, Joe Durant, Els, Matt Gogel, Joey Snyder III and Rod Pampling were one stroke further back at minus-8.
Vijay Singh closed with a even-par 71. He ended in a tie for 29th at 5-under-par 279 and will lose his No. 1 ranking in the world to Tiger Woods heading into the season's second major, the U.S. Open at Pinehurst.
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    Berger more than ready to rebound at Travelers

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:54 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Daniel Berger hopes that this year he gets to be on the other end of a viral moment at the Travelers Championship.

    Berger was a hard-luck runner-up last year at TPC River Highlands, a spectator as Jordan Spieth holed a bunker shot to defeat him in a playoff. It was the second straight year that the 25-year-old came up just short outside Hartford, as he carried a three-shot lead into the 2016 event before fading to a tie for fifth.

    While he wasn’t lacking any motivation after last year’s close call, Berger got another dose last week at the U.S. Open when he joined Tony Finau as a surprise participant in the final group Sunday, only to shoot a 73 and drift to a T-6 finish.

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    “It was one of the best experiences of my professional golf career so far. I feel like I’m going to be in such a better place next time I’m in that position, having felt those emotions and kind of gone through it,” Berger said. “There was a lot of reflection after that because I felt like I played good enough to get it done Sunday. I didn’t make as many putts as I wanted to, but I hit a lot of really good putts. And that’s really all you can do.”

    Berger missed the cut earlier this month to end his quest for three straight titles in Memphis, but his otherwise consistent season has now included six top-20 finishes since January. After working his way into contention last week and still with a score to settle at TPC River Highlands, he’s eager to get back to work against another star-studded field.

    “I think all these experiences you just learn from,” Berger said. “I think last week, having learned from that, I think that’s even going to make me a little better this week. So I’m excited to get going.”

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    Rory tired of the near-misses, determined to close

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:46 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Rory McIlroy has returned to the Travelers Championship with an eye on bumping up his winning percentage.

    McIlroy stormed from the back of the pack to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March, but that remains his lone worldwide win since the 2016 Tour Championship. It speaks to McIlroy’s considerable ability and lofty expectations that, even with a number of other high finishes this season, he is left unsatisfied.

    “I feel like I’ve had five realistic chances to win this year, and I’ve been able to close out one of them. That’s a bit disappointing, I guess,” McIlroy said. “But at least I’ve given myself five chances to win golf tournaments, which is much more than I did last year.”

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    The most memorable of McIlroy’s near-misses is likely the Masters, when he played alongside Patrick Reed in Sunday’s final group but struggled en route to a T-5 finish. But more frustrating in the Ulsterman’s eyes were his runner-up at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, when he led by two shots with eight holes to go, and a second-place showing behind Francesco Molinari at the BMW PGA Championship in May.

    “There’s been some good golf in there,” he said. “I feel like I let Dubai and Wentworth get away a little bit.”

    He’ll have a chance to rectify that trend this week at TPC River Highlands, where he finished T-17 last year in his tournament debut and liked the course and the tournament enough to keep it on his schedule. It comes on the heels of a missed cut at the U.S. Open, when he was 10 over through 11 holes and never got on track. McIlroy views that result as more of an aberration during a season in which he has had plenty of chances to contend on the weekend.

    “I didn’t necessarily play that badly last week. I feel like if I play similarly this week, I might have a good chance to win,” McIlroy said. “I think when you play in conditions like that, it magnifies parts of your game that maybe don’t stack up quite as good as the rest of your game, and it magnified a couple of things for me that I worked on over the weekend.”

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    Sunday run at Shinnecock gave Reed even more confidence

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:08 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – While many big names are just coming around to the notion that the Travelers Championship is worth adding to the schedule, Patrick Reed has been making TPC River Highlands one of his favorite haunts for years.

    Reed will make his seventh straight appearance outside Hartford, where he tied for fifth last year and was T-11 the year before that. He is eager to get back to the grind after a stressful week at the U.S. Open, both because of his past success here and because it will offer him a chance to build on a near-miss at Shinnecock Hills.

    Reed started the final round three shots off the lead, but he quickly stormed toward the top of the leaderboard and became one of Brooks Koepka’s chief threats after birdies on five of his first seven holes. Reed couldn’t maintain the momentum in the middle of the round, carding three subsequent bogeys, and ultimately tied for fourth.

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    It was a bittersweet result, but Reed is focusing on the positives after taking a couple days to reflect.

    “If you would have told me that I had a chance to win coming down Sunday, I would have been pleased,” Reed said. “I felt like I just made too many careless mistakes towards the end, and because of that, you’re not going to win at any major making careless mistakes, especially on Sunday.”

    Reed broke through for his first major title at the Masters, and he has now finished fourth or better in three straight majors dating back to a runner-up at the PGA last summer. With another chance to add to that record next month in Scotland, he hopes to carry the energy from last week’s close call into this week’s event on a course where he feels right at home.

    “It just gives me confidence, more than anything,” Reed said. “Of course I would have loved to have closed it out and win, but it was a great week all in all, and there’s a lot of stuff I can take from it moving forward. That’s how I’m looking at it.”

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    Koepka back to work, looking to add to trophy collection

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 8:53 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Days after ensuring the U.S. Open trophy remained in his possession for another year, Brooks Koepka went back to work.

    Koepka flew home to Florida after successfully defending his title at Shinnecock Hills, celebrating the victory Monday night with Dustin Johnson, Paulina Gretzky, swing coach Claude Harmon III and a handful of close friends. But he didn’t fully unwind because of a decision to honor his commitment to the Travelers Championship, becoming the first player to tee it up the week after a U.S. Open win since Justin Rose in 2013.

    Koepka withdrew from the Travelers pro-am, but he flew north to Connecticut on Wednesday and arrived to TPC River Highlands around 3 p.m., quickly heading to the driving range to get in a light practice session.

    “It still hasn’t sunk in, to be honest with you,” Koepka said. “I’m still focused on this week. It was just like, ‘All right, if I can get through this week, then I’m going to be hanging with my buddies next week.’ I know then maybe it’ll sink in, and I’ll get to reflect on it a little bit more.”

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    Koepka’s plans next week with friends in Boston meant this week’s event outside Hartford made logistical sense. But he was also motivated to play this week because, plainly, he hasn’t had that many playing opportunities this year after missing nearly four months with a wrist injury.

    “I’ve had so many months at home being on the couch. I don’t need to spend any more time on the couch,” Koepka said. “As far as skipping, it never crossed my mind.”

    Koepka’s legacy was undoubtedly bolstered by his win at Shinnecock, as he became the first player in nearly 30 years to successfully defend a U.S. Open title. But he has only one other PGA Tour win to his credit, that being the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open, and his goal for the rest of the season is to make 2018 his first year with multiple trophies on the mantle.

    “If you’re out here for more than probably 15 events, it gives you a little better chance to win a couple times. Being on the sidelines isn’t fun,” Koepka said. “Keep doing what we’re doing and just try to win multiple times every year. I feel like I have the talent. I just never did it for whatever reason. Always felt like we ran into a buzzsaw. So just keep plugging away.”