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Bill Kwon

Sports Watch

By Bill Kwon

Tuesday, August 17, 1999



Glad Tiger’s coming; wish
Sergio could make it, too

I never thought I'd see another golfer make Tiger Woods seem like an old man. But Sergio Garcia, golf's new "Teen Angel," did just that in the exciting finish of the PGA Championship.

Tiger won, although he was mentally spent. He let out a sigh of relief after tapping in his par putt to beat Garcia by one stroke.

And I'm glad Tiger won, not that I was rooting against the young Spanish sensation. Tiger's victory saved the PGA Grand Slam on Kauai, Nov. 16-17, from being bo-ring.

But Garcia's infectious personality and Seve Ballesteros-like flair made all of us hope that we'll see more of him in the future. And, judging by the quality of his game, we will.

Golf will be alive and well going into the 21st century with Woods, Garcia and David Duval being its brightest young stars.

If the Woods-Duval "Showdown at Sherwood" was a contrived duel for TV, Tiger and Sergio put on the real deal during the back nine of the PGA Championship.

Thanks to the miracle of television, that is.

You've got to remember that Woods and Garcia were in different twosomes. Theirs was a duel separated by a fairway. So camera work telescoped the unfolding drama.

WHEN Garcia sank his birdie putt and looked back at the 13th tee where Woods was waiting, "El Nino" tipped the bill of his cap and seemingly said. "Here I come."

"I wanted him to know I was still there," Garcia said later, "and to show him that he has to finish well to win."

Asked if he saw Garcia, Woods said not really. He was more worried about what he had to do. That he shortly doubled-bogeyed the hole added to the drama.

It was much the same way when Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson battled it out in the memorable 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. It was great theater only on television. They weren't playing together in the final round, which ended dramatically when Watson won by two strokes by birdieing the final two holes, including that miraculous chip shot at the par-3 17th.

One of these days, though, we'll see Woods and Garcia going head-to-head paired together on the final day.

Maybe it'll happen in next month's Ryder Cup, even though it'll require luck because the singles matches are blind draw. But wouldn't that be something?

Garcia seems more of a natural rival for Woods than Duval, who has the game but not the charisma that we require.

"Sergio and I play very similar games," Woods says. "We are both very aggressive, both hit the ball a long ways and both like to be creative."

GARCIA isn't only Seve with a smile, as he was described by Tom Lehman.

He also has a swashbuckling style like Ballesteros. Or is it "slashbuckling," as Garcia showed in his now famous "tree shot" to save par at No. 16.

"No one has ever seen a shot like that," said Ben Crenshaw, captain of the U.S. Ryder Cup team, which will be taking on Garcia and his European teammates.

It was truly close-your-eyes-time for Garcia, who took a mighty whack at the ball next to a huge tree trunk, sprinted up the fairway and leaped up to see it roll on the green. It was as heroic a golf shot as you'll ever see.

No wonder at the end, the fans in the gallery were cheering for Garcia and rooting against Woods. So was I, to an extent, but not at the expense of seeing Tiger on Kauai.

The dream scenario for me would have both Woods and Garcia playing in the 2000 PGA Grand Slam. Along with Duval and Phil Mickelson.

I can dream, can't I?



Bill Kwon has been writing
about sports for the Star-Bulletin since 1959.
bkwon@starbulletin.com



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