ShareThis Page
Garcia enters Open on a roll |

Garcia enters Open on a roll

Mike Dudurich
| Wednesday, June 16, 2004 12:00 a.m

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. — First, there was the image of Sergio Garcia slashing at a shot at the base of a tree in the 1999 PGA Championship. Then, there was the image of Garcia hopping up and down at the Masters in April, angry with what he considered media slights over the past couple of years while he made serious swing changes.

Rewind to the past month, and the young Spaniard is no longer hopping. Instead, he’s been standing proudly twice in that time span, accepting winners’ checks and trophies.

Is the mini Seve Ballesteros reaching the heights that were predicted for him when he finished behind Tiger Woods in the 1999 PGA• Do the wins at the EDS Byron Nelson Classic and last week’s Buick Classic stamp him as a contender this week in the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club?

“I feel like I’m pretty comfortable with my game,” he said. “I’ve been quite consistent lately and really feel like I have a bit more confidence in myself to try to do something here. I don’t want to say that I’m a favorite this week, but I feel like I’m playing nicely, so for my own confidence, that’s always good.”

This will be Garcia’s fifth U.S. Open, and the only real success he’s had in the event came two years ago when the Open was held about 30 miles west of Shinnecock Hills at Bethpage Black. He was in the top five every round, eventually shooting a 74 on Sunday that left him in fourth.

The course and the tournament were difficult enough, but the fans turned on Garcia after the first round. He was still using his old swing, which had more trigger mechanisms than a Remington factory.

“I don’t think all of that affected me that much,” Garcia said. “I tried to block it out. As I always said, I think it was just a minority of the whole crowd. I felt like a lot of people were behind me. There was that little group that was a bit louder than the rest, and you could hear them more.”

The crowd issue aside, Garcia has good memories about a very difficult week in June 2002.

“Well, I hope I can put myself back in that position and test myself again and see how I go through that,” he said. “I really feel like there’s a lot more consistency in me now than there was before. I feel like I know what I’m doing. I really liked the way I played that whole week. Unfortunately, Sunday, I didn’t come out as well as I wanted to. It was a great learning experience.”

If you’re looking for any other reasons to justify Garcia as a serious contender, consider this week’s venue. It’s much more the type of course Garcia and the Europeans are used to than the Americans.

“Definitely, this course has a European look to it,” Garcia said. “Although we’re in New York, it feels like you’re back in the British Isles. It’s an absolutely links course, even the grass and everything looks the same as in the British Isles. We’re all looking forward to it. It’s going to be a tough week, but it should be fun.”

While Westchester Country Club, site of Garcia’s triumph last week in the Buick, bears little resemblance to Shinnecock Hills, he believes what happened there will have a very positive impact for him on what happens here.

“I thought last week, the way the course was playing, how fast and firm it was, my idea was that Sunday would be a big day to check your patience for this week,” Garcia said. “The combination of how fast it was playing and how the wind was blowing 20-25 miles an hour, it was a good test. And I was happy to see myself get through that. And I think this week is going to be like that, but probably 10 times more.”

Categories: News
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.