Hate to be Rude: Sergio's slump

Defending champion Sergio Garcia is in such a slump that about the only time we remember seeing him this year was when he was whining about Augusta National under the big tree at the Masters.

The next day he issued an apology, one written by his management team and one that included the word “iconic.”

Tuesday at the Players he elaborated on his frustrating thoughts at Augusta and gave a hint that he’s trying to mature.

The elaboration: “It’s a frustrating course (Augusta). It can be very frustrating when things don’t go your way. And unfortunately for me that’s the way it’s been lately. It just caught me at the wrong time and I just said the wrong thing.”

The hint: “You learn from all those things. There’s a lot of things you do in your life that you wish you would have done differently. I am the way I am. So the same way my personality helps me a lot, sometimes it hurts me. It’s just a matter of learning how to control it a little bit and just try to do the right thing.”

Easier said than done, particularly when young.

• In his four medal tournaments since returning from reconstructive knee surgery, Tiger Woods has won once and had three other top-10 finishes. Yet some wonder whether he has, to use the football vernacular, lost a step.

Here’s what that means. Expectations are high. And if you put any other player’s four-event record, no matter how good, next to Woods’ name, one word would come to mind: Slump.

Adam Scott is the latest evidence of how other top-ranked players get a pass when their performance falls off. He has missed four cuts in a row and has lost to more players than he has beaten in the last 52 weeks, falling to No. 153 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings.

Yet the general golf public doesn’t seem to notice.

Unless your nickname is Tiger.

• What’s wrong with Scott? Confidence and substandard ball-striking, to hear his Aussie pal Geoff Ogilvy.

Not that Ogilvy is worried about his friend. He says one of Scott’s best traits is short-term memory loss, a staple from Woods’ makeup. Forget the past immediately.

“His belief doesn’t go away when he plays bad,” Ogilvy said of Scott at the Players. “Most people have a horrible tournament and shoot 75-75 (the next week). They’re ready to completely rebuild their golf game and they think they’re hopeless and they kick their bag and they whine for two weeks about how bad they played.

“Scottie just laughs it off and comes back the next week and wins. That’s probably his best attribute.”

• Yes, Sean O’Hair blew a five-shot lead the last day at Bay Hill and finished bogey-bogey in winning the Quail Hollow Championship. But there’s something about this kid that has long-time star written on him.

He’s got game. He’s mentally tough, having come to peace with his situation with an estranged, demanding father. He is playing better than ever after a swing overhaul, never an easy task. He is the lone American 20-something with more than two Tour wins. He is tied for the Tour lead for most top 10s this year. And he’s field-tested more than the average 26-year-old, having been a pro for 10 years, amazing enough.

One other thing, high praise: Someone in the Woods camp once told me O’Hair is someone Woods would like as a partner in Ryder-Presidents Cup competition.

• At the moment, the Tour season is something like the Kentucky Derby midway through. Or the NCAA basketball season, which had several No. 1s in the last couple of months.

Has parity hit the Tour, as it did in the early 1980s?

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