Commentary: Garcia, Garrigus lack excitement
Sunday, June 19, 2011
Forever after, when a man runs away with a major golf championship, we may say he is “doing a Rory” and everybody will know what we are talking about.
So what’s left for scrutiny when one player turns a major into his personal victory parade?
An examination of some of the minor characters.
In Saturday’s third round, the twosome of Sergio Garcia and Robert Garrigus drew a spirited group of spectators that included friends, fans and those exhausted by the challenge of trying to find an open spot to watch dominant leader Rory McIlroy.
Garcia and Garrigus, though, were busy being serious and chasing McIlroy.
This was a pairing that could have been sponsored by Valium. They were emotionless. They didn’t talk. They didn’t smile. They made Ben Hogan look like a noisy prankster.
They resembled human robots, blasting tape measure tee shots but never reacting to their accomplishments. If Garcia had busted out of his tight-fitting Adidas shirt to expose a steel-plated body, it would have been appropriate.
Garrigus has led the PGA Tour in driving distance for two years in a row. He is the strong and silent type. He is John Wayne in cleats.
On the short par-4 8th, Garrigus drove his ball pin high but behind a tree to the side of the green. He glared at the tree as if he wasn’t quite sure whether to play a punch shot under the branches or chop down the offender. Finally he drilled a low shot into a greenside bunker and then saved par with a sensational sand shot.
Both players started the day nine shots behind McIlroy. They needed to make their moves quickly, which Garrigus did and Garcia didn’t.
We never would have known by their reactions, though, because there were no reactions. Birdies and bogeys were treated with the same silence.
Okay, Garrigus kind of waved at his ball once when it didn’t bounce the way he envisioned. Perhaps he muttered something to himself, something like “bad ball” to scare his ball into obedience.
After Garcia missed a straightforward 3-foot par putt on No. 2, he merely stared at the ball.
Later, when Garcia hit the flagstick on 15 after a spectacular shot under a tree, he broke into a mini-sprint and then immediately slowed down to a determined walk. It was, after all, a day for very serious golf.
In this curious pairing, Garcia was totally focused on his routine. He purposely hit no warm-up shots on the range. He religiously followed his scripted mannerisms before every shot.
On the back nine, Garcia found his rhythm. Birdies on 13, 15 and 16 supercharged his round and led to a 2-under 69.
Garrigus at times outdrove Garcia by 30 yards, and he hit a serious of brilliant iron shots. However, he missed several putts that he probably expected to make. He shot 68, which was about as high as he could go, considering how well he hit the ball.
Garrigus finished the day nine shots behind McIlroy, while Garcia was 10 back.
The two players shook hands on the 18th green, but they didn’t appear to speak. It was the end of the third round in the U.S. Open, but it just as easily could have been the end to a silent movie.