Thursday, May 15, 2008

One Man’s Opinion -- Will big win spur Sergio to Major win?

For years, PGA Tour Commissioner Timmie Finchem has looked at NASCAR as a marketing model for his band of gypsies.
Last week, his annual clambake at the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass, The Players Championship, had more wrecks than 10 NASCAR races combined. Once a golf ball was airborne, it no longer belonged to the golfer who launched it. It belonged to the wind and the ground where bounces described as peculiar at best broke the hearts of many.

This combination of pain and chaos produced a champion who has caused all of the above for his fans and detractors alike during his 10-year career, Señor Sergio Garcia. He arose from the ashes to defeat the overwhelming fan favorite, unheralded and previously unknown to the casual observer, Paul Goydos. The record would have it that Serge defeated Goydos on the first hole the sudden death playoff with a par following Goydos dunking his tee shot just short of the 17th hole’s island green.

There are many who would suggest (and I being one of them obviously) that Serge won in spite of himself. He won because he gave himself the most chances to win—not because he seized it. That’s just not his style. History tells us that not only will he not seize the moment, he will find a way to lose and will be jackrabbit quick to tell you it wasn’t his fault. He has more excuses than Halliburton has lawyers.

The clinic Garcia gave for four days was as impressive as any you’ll ever see. No one, absolutely no one came close to striking the ball as well as Serge. He was first in driving accuracy (on Saturday, he hit the fairway on all driving holes in steady 25 mile an hour wind). He was first in Greens in Regulation by a mile. It seemed that everytime you looked in, Serge was standing over a makeable birdie—and then tapping them in for par a stroke later.

With ball striking statistics such as these coupled with the weather conditions, he should have blown away the field by double figures and he finished in a playoff? The reason is, he finished T39 in Putts per Green in Regulation and T69 in Total Putts Per Round. This is becoming known as the Garcia Gap where hands turn to cast iron when feet reach the shortest grass.
Now, this is the most amazing thing. Time after time when asked about his putting, Serge was quick to say that he putted well, but didn’t make anything. At least he was half right.
I think he’s living in the world of denial and has renewed the lease a few times. Think back to last year when he had a six-foot putt to win the British Open and missed. Not only did he miss, but the putt broke the opposite way than he thought. Come to think about it, there was quite a bit of that at The Players Championship as well. Serge, just a thought here, Helen Keller had Anne Sullivan to teach her to read. Can’t you find someone to teach you?
To his credit, on the final nine, Serge did make some crucial putts. The biggest, of course was the 12-15 footer on 18 to get into the playoff. With the guys I was watching with, you couldn’t get a bet that he’d make it. Of course, we all had to laugh on the playoff hole. With absolutely no pressure on him, he couldn’t hit the hole from four feet for what would have been a classy birdie.
One might think this could propel him to vacate the top of the List of the Best Golfers to Not Have Won a Major. In a fashion, I hope so. Then the golf world won’t have to listen to him whine about how unfairly he’s treated and that he leads a “Me against the world” existence. However, I don’t think it will.

They say that Tiger Woods owns a condo inside Ernie Els’ head. Tiger must also own a two-bedroom loft in Serge’s. The first thing out of Serge’s mouth at his trophy reception was, “I want to thank Tiger Woods for not being here this week.”

Here’s a guy who just won the biggest tournament of his life and he wants to thank a player for not being there? Huh? In Sergio’s seven PGA Tour wins, Tiger has been in the field three times. Of course Sergio has been there for a lot of Tiger’s wins as well and frankly, that’s been a more common scenario, but every player can say that. Also, in spite of his 2001 win, Tiger hasn’t been a force around the Stadium Course very often. I think that rather than search out putting guru Stan Utley, Serge would be best served looking up Dr. Phil. It appears that Serge lead the field in another statistic last week—neurosis.

This should make the rest of the season very interesting. My advice to you is stock up on a lot of cheese, because you know Serge will be serving copious magnums of whine this summer when he’s not leading the field in ball striking and has to rely on his flat stick.

Bartender, let’s get the party started. Stow Serge’s Michelob Ultra Light beer from his TV commercials and stir up a pitcher of cold, homemade Spanish Sangria. I think I’ll pass on the flamingo dancing this time around though. I’ll leave that to Serge.

See you on the first tee,


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