Garcia Bags Players Championship

Sergio Garcia is the original Tiger catcher. After Tiger Woods’ career took off more than a decade ago, golf started looking around for others who have the talent to challenge him.

Spaniard Garcia was the first one when he burst on to the scene as a 19 year old. However, Garcia is now 28 and still without a major tournament title.

He does have the next best thing, though, having won The Players Championship over the weekend at Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.

Often described as the fifth major, The Players Championship is one of the biggest tournaments on the PGA Tour.

Garcia became only the second European to win it when he beat Paul Goydos on the first hole of sudden death, a par three. It was also his seventh career victory, though his first in 54 starts. He said on the PGA Tour website:

“I felt so good all week long with all parts of my game. I feel like I was really coming along, and you know, I am just thrilled to be able to be the Players’ champ and I’m just going to try to carry it as well as I can. Not only because of the field, but the course, everything around it, it feels like a major. And it tests you like a major, but unfortunately it’s not. Maybe sometime in the future, it might be.”

Garcia completed the fourth round with a 71, one of only eight players who scored under par on a windy TPC Sawgrass. He forced a play-off with a seven-footer for par on the 18th.

He finished with a total of five-under-par 283 to match overnight leader Goydos, who managed to earn a play-off place despite shooting 74 in his final round.

Jeff Quinney was alone in third place one stroke behind after his 70 while Briny Baird finished fourth a further three strokes behind after his 72.

Last year, Garcia finished second behind Phil Mickelson. Only one other player has done the same thing, going from runner-up to champion in successive years … that’s right, Tiger Woods.

On the European Tour, South African Hennie Otto won his maiden title with he triumphed at the Italian Open.

The 31-year-old had a four-shot overnight lead before having it cancelled on final day as Englishman Oliver Wilson made a charge with four birdies from the 11th hole onwards.

Otto, however, sank a 30-foot birdie putt on the 13th and went into the final hole with a one-stroke lead.

Needing par to win, Otto’s tee shot just missed a bunker. His second shot was played with one foot in the sand but he still managed to find the green, from where he two-putted to safety.

He closed with 69 for a total of 25-under-par 263. Wilson was second, one stroke behind, after his brilliant 64 while Sweden’s Robert Karlsson, who scored 67 on Sunday, was third on 265.

Meanwhile, former world number one Annika Sorenstam continued her successful return from an injury-wrecked 2007 season with victory at the Michelob ULTRA Open at Kingsmill.

The Swede scored 66 in the final round at Williamsbrg, Virginia for a total of 19-under-par 265, a commanding seven-stroke victory over a group of four players – Allison Fouch, Karen Stupples, Christina Kim and Jang Jeong.

It was her third title of the season, 72nd of her career and she became the first LPGA player to earn more than $22 million after taking home the first prize of $330,000. She said on the LPGA website:

“Winning this tournament is just a wonderful feeling. I think I feel just relieved, I feel at peace with myself knowing I can play this golf course. I’m very proud of the way I played this week and I’m very happy with the way I’ve been hitting especially my iron shots and I’ve been making a lot of the putts.”

One Response to “Garcia Bags Players Championship”

  1. Frank Linehan says:

    Thrilled with Garcia’s win. Frank

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