Can Garcia Be Great?
Because Sergio Garcia, 28, has been playing professional golf for nine years there is a perception in some corners that he is and always will be an underachiever, even with his victory at The Players Championship.
The fact is, he still has plenty of time to not just be good, but great. Garcia may not have any majors to his credit but he has nailed seven PGA Tour and six European PGA titles.
Ben Hogan, who would go on to win 61 times, had five titles to his name when he was also 28, one of those was a four-ball event with Vic Ghezzi as his partner and another was in something called the Goodall Palm Beach Round Robin.
Hogan’s first title in a major came at the 1942 PGA Championship when he was 34. He would win eight more.
Garcia appears to realize that being a phenomenal wood and iron player is not enough to elevate him to greatness.
“But the game of golf is not only about hitting the ball. You have to have every single part of your game in shape. You can be a great ball-striker, but if you can't finish it off — you're going to win some tournaments, but it doesn't happen too often,” he said after his final round in The Players.
Trouble for Mickelson
The golf gods might have been sending Phil Mickelson a sign as he was walking off the first tee in the final round of The Players with hopes of defending his title. A wind gust blew off his visor, which ended up in a pond adjacent to the fairway and out of his reach.
Mickelson’s double bogey on the hole included his second putt from just outside of three feet where the ball was half way into the jar before it spun out.
Daly’s European Vacation
John Daly, without his full PGA Tour card — and ranking 609th in the world — played recently in the European Tour’s Italian Open, tying for 23rd. The experience was so enjoyable he’s toying with heading over fulltime in 2009.
“I could play six or seven events this summer and have not ruled out a full season here next year,” he said.
“So many of our courses in the States you can't hit with a driver, but you can do it more here. It makes it fun — for the fans and for me.”
Graduating, With Honor
Juli Inkster appears to have a grasp on her fellow competitors and her priorities. She will skip the upcoming McDonald's LPGA Championship because her daughter is graduating from grade school.
Inkster had played in 56 consecutive majors, the seventh-longest streak in LPGA history. She missed the 1994 Kraft Nabisco Championship for the birth of the daughter who is now graduating.
During this stretch, she won four of her seven major championship titles including back-to-back victories at the 1999 LPGA Championship and U.S. Women's Open.
It’s refreshing to know that when she retires, Inkster will not join a long list of athletes and celebrities who will claim their only regret is that they did not spend more time with their family.
While announcers and pundits were, as usual, fawning over the par-3 17th at TPC Sawgrass with its small island green surrounded by water, announcer Johnny Miller revealed a fact that most others in his business don’t have the guts to articulate: It’s not a hole you’d want at your course.
“If you had to play this every week, golfers would be on tranquilizers,” Miller said during Saturday’s broadcast.
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