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Garcia short of whole package
By BOB HARIG
Published September 6, 2005
You sometimes have to remind yourself that Sergio Garcia is just 25. He has been around long enough that he has played in 29 major championships. He has been on three European Ryder Cup teams.
And, sometimes, he acts his age ... or younger.
On Saturday, during the third round of the European Masters in Switzerland, Garcia kicked a sign after missing a short putt, likely drawing a fine from the European PGA Tour.
Of course, it has to be incredibly frustrating to putt like Garcia. He hits the ball a mile, hits more greens in regulation than all but two players on the PGA Tour, has a great touch around the greens.
But he has trouble getting the ball in the hole.
He entered last week ranked 202nd on tour in putting average. That stat measures the putts per green hit in regulation. Garcia's number is 1.843. The leader, Arjun Atwal , is 1.701.
Another way to look at it is putts per round. Garcia is 205th at 30.27. The leader, Steve Stricker , takes 27.92.
And despite all these woes on the greens, Garcia is ranked sixth in the world, considered the best player without a major title. And after winning Sunday in Switzerland, Garcia has victories on the PGA Tour and in Europe this year. He has six PGA Tour wins and six European wins and a total of 16 worldwide.
Imagine how good Garcia would be if he could take one fewer putt per round.
"I think it's a good season if you look at my putting stats," Garcia said recently at the NEC Invitational. "It's a shame because I really have felt like my game was very, very good this year and I haven't been able to take advantage of that."
Although Garcia is not one to fiddle with different putters, he has worked hard on his technique. Alignment was one factor, and so was keeping his head still through impact. "I always want to see what's going on," Garcia said.
"I've always tried to go by feel, something that feels comfortable and easy to repeat."
Because Garcia is third in greens hit in regulation, his putting stats are not going to be as good as others. But he does feel like some opportunities have been wasted. "It's a matter of waiting and being positive when I go onto the greens, knowing that I'm going to make it," he said.
GOLF AND KATRINA: The major golf organizations have formed the U.S. Golf Hurricane Katrina Fund with a goal of raising $5-million. The PGA Tour, LPGA, PGA of America, Masters and Golf Course Superintendents of America are part of the group hoping to raise money that will go directly to those affected. For more information, visit www.pgatour.com
Others in the golf world have stepped forward. Greg Norman has donated use of his helicopter for relief activities. And Hal Sutton and David Toms , who live in Shreveport, La., will use their charitable foundations to direct funds to the needy.
Locally, Crown Golf property courses Bardmoor, Lansbrook and Northdale donated their greens fees Monday to the relief effort. And Thursday at Tarpon Woods in Palm Harbor, the $30 green fee will go to the Red Cross.
HAIL HALE: At 60, Hale Irwin continues to impress. The all-time Champions Tour victory leader won his 43rd career title Sunday at the First Tee Open at Pebble Beach. It was his third win of the year, but first since the Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am at the TPC of Tampa Bay in February. It was also the first win since he turned 60 in June. "I relish the challenge," Irwin said after his victory. "I challenge myself to go out at 60 and play the same golf I did at 50."
AROUND GOLF: Davis Love missed the cut at the Deutsche Bank Classic, his eighth miss this year. That's the most Love has missed in a season since 1988. ... The PGA Tour scheduling department did this week's Canadian Open no favors. With the Deutsche Bank ending Monday, those who are playing in Canada have a short time to get to Vancouver and prepare for the Thursday start. Canadian Open organizers originally thought the Deutsche Bank was to move this year to Seattle, making for an easier commute. ... Boca Raton amateur Morgan Pressel continues to impress. She shot 66 Sunday at the State Farm tournament to finish in a tie for fifth.