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Opinion & Analysis

Sergio will be Sergio, even if he wins

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By Zak Kozuchowski

GolfWRX Managing Editor

If Sergio Garcia wins The Barclays tomorrow at Bethpage Black, the following things will happen:

1. With back-to-back victories, Garcia will be considered the hottest hand in golf. Although he withdrew from next week’s Deutsch Bank Championship, he will become one of the favorites to win the PGA Tour’s FedExCup Playoffs.

2. Garcia will become the de facto leader of the European Ryder Cup team, which is impressive considering he did not ensure a spot on Jose Maria Olazabal’s team until Monday, when he won the rain-delayed Wyndham Championship. 

3. Garcia’s play will convince us that he can and will win a major championship. 

All of these arguments are valid. For years, Garcia has proven that he is one of the Tour’s best ball strikers, and his 14-6-4 Ryder Cup record is evidence that he is one of golf’s most fiery competitors. At times though, he’s been a little too fiery.

The 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black was an example of his combustable nature —  “Sergio being Sergio” you might call it. Garcia, who was 22 at the time, was having trouble pulling the trigger over his shots. The video reply is painful to watch — waggle, regrip, waggle, regrip, etc.

Not surprisingly, Garcia was taunted by a few New York City golf fans for his lengthy preshot routine. So Garcia did what every athlete has wanted to do to New York sports fans at times. He flipped them the bird.

Similar stories of abnormal behavior from Garcia have accumulated over the years. There was the time he spit in the cup at Doral, the time he kicked his shoe down the fairway in the World Match Play and the time he kicked a sign on the European Tour. Maybe the strangest thing Garcia has ever done was to say after a disappointing weekend at the 2012 Masters that he wasn’t good enough to win a major.

But Garcia is good enough to win a major. And he shouldn’t need a win at The Barclays to prove it. He certainly doesn’t need to win at Bethpage Black to redeem himself to New York City golf fans for his lapse in judgement, either.

Yes, Garcia has provided golf fans with several uncomfortable moments over the years, but he’s also given us a unfiltered glimpse into the thoughts of a top Tour player. Those emotional outbursts we complain about? They’re the same emotions we love in the Ryder Cup. The immature excuses Garcia has made at times? They’re the foundation of the confidence he has displayed in his 18 victories across the globe.

When we’re talking about Sergio Garcia’s future, what we’re really talking about is his putting. And right now, he’s rolling putts better than ever with his right hand positioned in a pencil-style grip. Garcia accepted that he would never be a great putter with a conventional-style grip, and has adapted well enough with the new grip to rank in the top 30 in the Tour’s strokes gained — putting statistic.

Maybe we need to look at Garcia the same way as he’s come to look at putting. He’s never going to be conventional. He’s not going to do it the way others have. But he can still get it done.

And I hope he does.

Click here for more discussion in the “Tour Talk” forum.

You can follow Zak on Twitter @ZakKoz and GolfWRX at @GolfWRX

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Zak is the Editor-in-Chief of GolfWRX.com. He's been a part of the company since 2011, when he was hired to lead GolfWRX's Editorial Department. Zak developed GolfWRX's Featured Writer Program, which supports aspiring writers and golf industry professionals. He played college golf at the University of Richmond (Go Spiders!) and still likes to compete in tournaments. You can follow Zak on Twitter @ZakKoz, where he's happy to discuss his game and all the cool stuff that's part of his job.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Troy Vayanos

    Aug 26, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    Yes Sergio is one of those guys that will always be unique amongst touring professionals. I think it gets lost just how good a career he has had because he hasn’t won a major. 18 victories worldwide says enough just how good a career he has had. At present he’s close to the hottest man in world golf and will play a vital role in the European Ryder Cup team.

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Opinion & Analysis

The History of Course Design is Yours to Play at Oglebay

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There is a much-talked about “New Golden Age” of golf course design underway that is driven by demand for ever-more spectacular courses at the top end of the resort golf market. Destinations such as Streamsong, Bandon Dunes, Cabot Links, Sand Valley and others provide the traveling golfer a spectacular golf experience; unfortunately, it comes at a price tag that is equally spectacular. When a week playing golf in Florida can cost as much as a week in Scotland, where do you go for a golf getaway that doesn’t require a second mortgage?

Oglebay Golf Resort in Wheeling, West Virginia, doesn’t just provide an affordable golf vacation option; with its three golf courses, it provides players the chance to experience a condensed history of American golf course design through its three courses. The resort sits on land that was once owned by a wealthy industrialist and is now a part of the city park system. Located about an hour from Pittsburgh, Oglebay draws the majority of its golfers from Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia. It’s kind of cool that when you drive to Oglebay from the Washington, D.C., you hit all of those states except Ohio, which is just a few minutes away from Wheeling. The area is especially picturesque in the autumn months when the changing colors of the leaves are at their peak.

The property has a rich history in the business and sporting history of West Virginia, but the three golf courses, Crispin, are a special prize that taken together form a primer on the history of golf design in the past 90 years. The 5,670-yard Crispin course is a one-off design by local golf enthusiast Robert Biery that was completed in 1930 and is a fascinating study of design techniques of that era. The slopes and elevation are severe and extreme by today’s standards. A clue was the raised eyebrow of the assistant pro when I said that I would walk the course. Uneven lies are the order of the day, the product of a time when there was neither the money nor equipment readily available to create gentle slopes and even surfaces; the course is true to the original contours of the West Virginia hillside.  There is little relief on the greens, which run a little slower than typical greens but make up for it in size and slope. It is by far the shortest of the three courses but the par-4 8th hole and par-5 9th holes are a thousand yards of joy and pain.

Hole No. 6 at the Klieves course

The Klieves Course is a 6,800-yard, par-71 Arnold Palmer design that was completed in 2000. The design features broad fairways, mildly undulating greens and opportunities for heroics on short par-4’s, all the prototypical characteristics of modern resort golf courses. While some architects choose to torture and torment, Palmer courses put a premium on fun and this one is no exception. The par-5, 515 yard 6th is a great example of the risk/reward available without that challenges the resort golfer without the need to humiliate. The course is very well maintained tee to green, and you’ll want to keep a fully charged battery to take photos of the vistas from the elevated tee boxes.

Hole No. 13 at the Jones course

In my humble opinion, the true gem is the Robert Trent Jones course. The 7,004-yard, par-72 Course carries a healthy 75.1 rating/141 slope from the back tees. It utilizes a gorgeous piece of land that meanders across the West Virginia hills to give a mesmerizing collection of holes that are equal parts scenery and challenge. Both nines start from elevated tee boxes hitting down into valleys that offer classic risk/reward propositions. Usually I have no problem identifying a favorite hole or two, but on this course it’s difficult. Having said that, the stretch of No. 4 (par 3, 193 yards), No. 5 (par-5, 511 yards) and No. 6 (par-4, 420 yards) are among the best I have played anywhere as a show of nature’s beauty and the at of laying out a golf hole. And the four par 3’s are not the place to pic up an easy birdie. The only one less that 190 yards from the tips is the 158-yard 15th, which is protected by a small, undulating green. All in all, it’s a perfect representation of the genius of Robert Trent Jones.

The golf is good at Oglebay and the prices are better. You can get in 18 at the Oglebay courses for as little as $32…on the weekend. And when you’re not playing golf, you can take advantage of the myriad of outdoor sports activities, tour the Oglebay mansion, hit the spa or visit the Glass Museum on the property (I promise it’s a lot more interesting than it sounds). There’s a lot of great new golf resorts out there and that’s a good thing for the golf industry, but destinations like Oglebay prove that there’s a lot of life left in the old classics as well.

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Legend Rees Jones speaks on designing Danzante Bay in Mexico

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Hall-of-Fame golf course architect Rees Jones talks about his newest course design, Danzante Bay at Villa Del Palmar in Mexico. Also, Jeff Herold of TRS Luggage has an exclusive holiday discount offer for GolfWRX listeners!

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