DORAL, Fla. – His morning finish to Round 1, coupled with his afternoon start to Round 2 were enough to knock him out of most tournament chases.
But this week’s WGC-Cadillac Championship at Trump National Doral’s Blue Monster is not your usual fare and so Sergio Garcia, despite a triple for breakfast and a quadruple for lunch is still in the tournament. The precocious one smiled, shrugged his shoulders, and tried to rationalize such a picture.
“For the most part, I did hit the ball well,” he said.
Garcia was 1 under for his first round when he tried to drive the green at the shortish, par-4 16th. The ball plugged in a bunker, he failed to get it out, and his third shot was thinned high into the Monster Seats at Fenway Park.
Well, not quite. But Garcia’s golf ball did rattle off the top of the tent, bounce over onto a cart path, and hopped into the water. Penalty drop, another wedge, two more putts, and it was a tidy triple-bogey seven.
That pain barely digested, Garcia started his second round a short time later at the 562-yard, par-5 10th. It made the 16th feel like a flesh wound.
“Obviously, I didn’t hit a good tee shot on 10,” said Garcia. “The second (drive), I thought was perfect, but the wind didn’t touch it at all.”
Splish, splash, and even after he found dry land with his third try, Garcia was lying five and 291 yards from the hole.
The Spaniard required nine strokes to play the hole, and when he walked to the 11th tee he was 6 over for the tournament.
He conceded that it was a deflating feeling.
“Yeah, of course it is. Never a nice way to start,” he said. “But unfortunately with this wind and that kind of hole it can happen without hitting too many bad shots.”
To his credit, Garcia fought hard, even getting revenge on the 16th by making a birdie when he visited it for a second time.
Playing level par after that miserable start at the 10th, Garcia shot 76 and at 6-over 150 he’s within view of the lead, just seven back – crazy as it may sound.
Then again, isn’t everyone? After all, with the field average of 76 for the second round and no one doing better than 70, it was not only a day to try and survive, but it was a day to somehow, someway get closer to the lead. For 34 of his holes Garcia had shot 1 under; being 7 over for two holes hurt, but it cannot yet be considered his downfall.
“It’s difficult out there. I haven’t been able to make any putts at all, and I gave myself some good opportunities,” said Garcia. “It’s difficult to get rewarded anywhere in this weather. The greens are quite firm, too. Hitting good shots is being 20 feet away. Some (greens), there’s just no room to hit it.”
Often a lightening rod, in this assessment, Garcia had plenty of company.