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Monday Scramble: Saving the day

Welcome to the Monday Scramble. We’ll be with you right after we get through local qualifying for the U.S. Open.

• • •

THIS WEEK’S SPECIAL: That noise you heard this morning on your way to work was actually a collection of cheers that continue to spill out of PGA Tour headquarters.

Well, probably.

For a moment there over at Camp Ponte Vedra, The Players may have started to feel a lot more like The Prayers.

As in, please let Sergio win, please let Sergio win.

There’s actually a chance PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem was more relieved to see Garcia’s name at the top of the leaderboard Sunday evening than El Nino himself.

Who knows what would have happened had Garcia pretended he was in contention heading down the stretch at the first or second or third or fourth major instead?

Had Garcia gift-wrapped another career-changing victory and handed it off at the goal line, Finchem just might have stood sulking late Sunday evening on the stoop of TPC Sawgrass’ hulking clubhouse, trying his best not to mispronounce one of the following surnames: Goydos, Quinney, Baird.

Craig Perks, where have you gone?

It’s always popular in the days leading up to the Players to remark on the mystery that is TPC Sawgrass, to say the course doesn’t fit any one type of player profile.

Anyone can win here, they say.

Of course, that doesn’t mean the fans actually want anyone to win, now does it?

We here at the Monday Scramble have nothing against Paul Goydos, Jeff Quinney or Briny Baird. Actually, if we learned anything this week, it’s that Goydos is one of the true wry guys on the PGA Tour (see below), which probably ranks somewhere just below winning the fifth major in our book.

But the reality is that Goydos, Quinney and Baird move about as many needles as a 2 mph breeze.

The Players without Tiger Woods is bad enough for TV ratings. Nevermind the fact that Annika Sorenstam completed a seven-shot victory at the Michelob Ultra Open Sunday, letting Lorena Ochoa and everyone else know that it might be a good idea to start watching the LPGA on a more regular basis.

Seems a rivalry has finally arrived, just not on the PGA Tour.

Which means if not for Garcia’s resolve to make a superstar up-and-down for par on the 72nd hole and hit a legendary tee ball to 4 feet on the 17th hole, the first hole of a sudden-death playoff, the PGA Tour’s fifth major just may have taken a back seat to the LPGA’s fifth major.

So the Players came dangerously close this weekend to becoming the Naysayers. And then Sergio, of all people, swooped in with a sturdy putter to save the day.

Better stay tuned.

• • •

OH MY GOYDOS: A sampling of quotes from Players runner-up Paul Goydos:

• “In a sense, I got to feel what it was like to be Tiger Woods. That’s from a crowd standpoint, not a talent standpoint.”

• “I try to win every week. It doesn’t look like it, but it’s why we play.”

• “I think I’m a better player than I’ve ever been. That said, so is everybody else who plays out here, which is the problem.”

• “Look at the shot Sergio hit in the playoff. I got beat. I played good golf. That doesn’t mean you win. There’s no defense. I can’t tackle the little guy. There’s no knee-capping. You have to accept the guy beat me.”

• “The key is to have the lead with no holes to go.”

• “If I could explain it (how he was in the lead after 54 holes), I certainly wouldn’t be telling you.

• • •

OTHER QUOTES OF THE WEEK:

“First of all I want to thank Tiger for not being here.”
– Sergio Garcia, during his trophy presentation at the Players Championship\

“No, I didn’t watch no golf. I didn’t even know who done won. I was trying to figure out who won it last year, and then I happened to see Phil (Mickelson) on one of the tickets. I said, well, I reckon Phil won it last year, there you go.”
– Boo Weekley, when asked if he watched last year’s Players Championship

“Well, now it’s a major, yeah. Now that I won it’s a major, absolutely.”
– Phil Mickelson, on his feelings toward the Players Championship after his victory in 2007

“You know what? It’s women. If you just put that down, everyone will know what you mean. Just capitalize ‘women’ and you don’t need to explain anything else.”
– Juli Inkster, on the new LPGA policy that disallows caddies from being on the practice green between the hours of 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

• • •

FROM THE INTERVIEW ROOM:

Q. What’s the best part about winning this tournament at this time?
SERGIO GARCIA: Not having to listen to you guys. (Laughter.)

Q. Seriously.
GARCIA: Yeah. (Laughter.) I was dead serious.

Q. Were you feeling that the comments were critical of you?
GARCIA: Well, I mean, there’s always going to be — I mean, you’re going to criticize probably the best player in the history of golf, so how are you not going to criticize somebody else who is much smaller than that? I guess it’s part of your job.
The only thing I can do is try to keep getting better so I make your job harder to be able to criticize me. (Laughter.)

Q. The press, does it motivate you at all, that kind of stuff?
GARCIA: Definitely.

Q. Does it?
GARCIA: Definitely. Gives me something to prove.

• • •

Q. In terms of how much you just pay attention to what goes on week to week, do you get any sense from what’s happened this year with Anthony Kim winning last year and J.B. Holmes and some of the different guys I should say, Brandt Snedeker playing well, that —
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: That I’m getting old? I do get a sense that I’m getting old.

• • •

Q. Where are your daughters this week?
PAUL GOYDOS: They are at school. They are at home. I have a senior and a sophomore, one graduating in a couple of months.

Q. Are they watching you on TV?
PAUL GOYDOS: Probably not. They are probably at the mall.

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