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Published: Saturday, 9/20/2008

Garcia picks up draw, loss

BY DAVE HACKENBERG
BLADE SPORTS COLUMNIST

LOUISVILLE - If there is any better news for the Americans than a 5 1/2-2 1/2 lead after the first day of Ryder Cup competition, it is that Spain's Sergio Garcia finally looks human.

Garcia came to Valhalla Golf Club with a 14-4-2 overall record in Ryder Cup play, including an 8-0 foursomes mark and a 5-1-2 four-ball record.

Garcia avoided his first-ever foursomes loss when he and Lee Westwood, 2-down with three holes to play and dormie with two to play, rallied at the end to salvage a split against Kenny Perry and Jim Furyk.

But Garcia and his afternoon partner, countryman Miguel Angel Jimenez, were routed by Justin Leonard and Hunter Mayhan, 4 and 3.

An even more stunning development was Garcia's absence from tomorrow morning's foursomes pairing sheet, released after the completion of play yesterday.

Lee Westwood, another Euro stalwart who halved two matches, will sit out as well.

SLIPS AWAY: Local favorite Perry was in position to be the hero in a key match yesterday morning, but that's not the way it worked out.

Perry and Furyk were on the verge of a huge upset in alternate-shot play over Garcia and Westwood.

But Perry missed a six-foot birdie putt at No. 17 that would have closed out the match and then struck a horrible drive on the final hole, flying the ball right and into a water hazard. It allowed the Euros to rally for a halved match.

"I'm sure Kenny is a little down," U.S. captain Paul Azinger said. "He had an opportunity to hand Sergio his first defeat. I told him, 'I know you're a little disappointed, but the guy was unbeaten and untied and you're the first to put a little blemish on his record. Congratulations for that and you played great all day.' And he did."

BEST FRIENDS: Despite trailing 3-down in both matches, the Phil Mickelson-Anthony Kim team rallied to halve its foursomes match against Padraig Harrington-Robert Karlsson and beat Harrington and Graeme McDowell in the later four-ball match, 2-up.

"We had a lot of fun today," said Mickelson, who dropped a 25-foot birdie putt on No. 17 to swing the afternoon match. "We had a great time together. I love playing with this guy. He has a lot of talent, a lot of game. He has a youthful enthusiasm that is infectious. We played with a lot of heart and emotion and came back in both matches."

Added Kim, a Ryder Cup rookie at age 23: "I was definitely a bit nervous, but when you have Phil Mickelson on your side you know you can rely on him to hit some quality shots. We're having a great time and I think we're going to be hard to beat."

OVER THE LINE? Europe's Lee Westwood was critical of Boo Weekley's cheerleading antics during their afternoon four-ball match, which resulted in a split.

Weekley, a Cup rookie, repeatedly waved his arms and pumped his fists to incite the pro-American crowd and the irritation on Westwood's face was clear as he played in his 27th match over six Ryder Cups.

"You walk a fine line when you start doing that sort of thing, using the crowd to your advantage," Westwood said. "You do that by playing good golf, which they were doing. You go over the line when you take it too far. There's no need to be doing it between shots, like when Boo holed it from off the back at the 12th hole and I've still got a putt for a halve."

Weekley said he "didn't mean to [offend the Euros] if that's what I did. I was just trying to keep the crowd positive and keep me and [partner J.B. Holmes] positive."

Nick Faldo, the Euro captain, didn't take any offense.

"Boo walked over once and asked me, 'Is it like this over there?' meaning Europe," Faldo said. "I said, 'It sure is.' This is America, and he was just rallying his troops. So that's fine."

THE BOMB: The morning foursomes match was all square through 17 holes, and Europe's Ian Poulter had safely placed his drive on the left edge of the 18th fairway. Stewart Cink stepped up for the Americans and pounded his drive some 40 yards beyond Poulter's ball and about 360 yards off the tee.

"It might have been the best tee ball of my life, to be honest," said the 35-year-old Cink, playing in his fourth Ryder Cup.



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