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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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  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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Golf's Perfect Imperfections

Golf’s Perfect Imperfections: How to never miss another putt

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Learn how your own anatomy is designed to roll the golf ball in the direction you want to start the putt without any interference or assistance on your behalf.

All you need is a system of predictions that will help you confirm that your putting stroke is pointed in the right direction. This is how you become a witness to gravity sinking the putt for you. This will become clear after you listen to the podcast and give this a try at a golf course near you!

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

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On Spec

On Spec: Bryson wins BIG and discussing the greatest combo sets

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Talking about Bryson – the most electric man in golf, his driving, putting, and one-length wedges. Plus breaking down the greatest forged combo sets of all time.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 

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Opinion & Analysis

Ways to Win: American Muscle in Detroit

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Bryson DeChambeau put quarantine to good use, putting on 40 pounds of muscle with a widely-documented diet of protein shakes and pizza. All that work in the gym paid off in a big way when he came from three back to overtake Matthew Wolff and win the Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club.

Much has been said about DeChambeau’s newfound speed and ball speeds regularly breaking the 190 mph mark. To be honest, I really did not want to get pulled into writing an article about his driving, especially considering that his flatstick had quite a bit to do with his victory this weekend. However, once I started tracking his shots in V1 Game, it is hard not to be blown away by what he has done with the big stick.

Drive for Show?

After the opening nine of his first round, DeChambeau already had four drives longer than 340 yards. Bear in mind, two of those nine holes are par threes. The only drives that didn’t go past 320 yards were layups. On the 14th hole, he uncorked a 375-yard drive, and found the green with his second shot for a one-putt eagle. Maybe he hit a sprinkler head or ran down the cart path for 100 yards like he did at least once the previous week. However, just three holes later, on the 17th, his tee shot traveled 378 yards. The V1 Game screenshot shows that drive’s towering distance.

So, alright. I’m impressed. DeChambeau has found the cheat code to overpower golf courses, and the field. He apologized to course designer Donald Ross early in the week, knowing that the fairway bunkers just were not far enough out to keep him from blowing past them on the fly.

Now, 378-yard drives are one thing. There are a handful of long drivers that could easily hang with that, but Bryson was also incredibly accurate this week. He hit 33 of 56 fairways for just under 60 percent. Not bad. However, he did so while making only a single driving error on the week. (A Driving Error in V1 Game is a tee shot hit into a penalty or recovery situation)

On the 14th hole on Sunday, DeChambeau put a 355-yard tee shot behind some trees and was blocked from advancing to the green (a recovery situation). He then overcooked his punch-out into the lake for his only two ball-striking mistakes of the week. DeChambeau averaged more than 340 yards (when hitting driver) on the week for around 47 attempts. He did so without making mistakes! Wild.

Referring to the Strokes Gained Stack chart at the top of this article, DeChambeau gained an impressive 11.1 strokes on a typical field driving for the week. Now, the PGA Tour normalizes that data to the actual field and even then, he gained almost seven strokes with driving.

To say DeChambeau found the cheat code is a little unfair to all the work he has put in. Clearly, those gains are paying off on the golf course. However, DeChambeau has effectively found a way to separate from the field while being perfectly average with irons and in his short game. Here is the secret… Bryson can afford to be an average player from 150 yards if the rest of the field is 40 yards back, hitting from 190 yards.

The above screenshot from V1 Game shows DeChambeau averaged around 330 yards per day when all drives (including layups) were counted. Each day, he easily crossed the 350-yard barrier multiple times. V1 Game can help you track your driving distance should you want to work on similar gains.

Putt for Dough?

Setting the shock and awe factor aside, the fact remains that DeChambeau would not have won this tournament without 1) a little help from Wolff, who had five bogeys in his first 10 holes on Sunday, and 2) a really hot putter.

Again, DeChambeau was perfectly average with his approach game all week. He found a way, though, to routinely make long putts. On two of the four days, he crossed the 100-ft barrier for feet of putts made (which you can see tracked in the V1 Game round summary). On Thursday alone, DeChambeau made 138 ft of putts. Additionally, he only had a single three-putt for the entire week. Below is a summary of his putting performance for the week.

DeChambeau putted well this weekend, avoiding three putts and misses inside six feet, which are two critical keys to scoring you will see highlighted in the post-round performance tracking in V1 Game. Looking at his Strokes Gained: Putting, DeChambeau gained strokes in every bucket except for “From Less Than Three Feet,” where he had one short miss on the week. This phenomenal performance on the greens, particularly on Sunday, kept Wolff from ever getting too close.

Takeaways

DeChambeau put in the work and it is paying dividends. He has been in contention each week following the quarantine and shows no signs of stopping if he can keep his tee shots flying as straight as he has thus far. If he could figure out a way to just be slightly above average with the irons, he would be very difficult to catch.

Much can be learned from seeing how the pros manage the course and get it done from day to day with different parts of their game. The big takeaway this week: If you want to improve your Strokes Gained: Driving, find a reliable way to hit it farther. V1 Game can help you track your progress on the course as you try to hit those distance goals.

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