Here's an apology in advance if there's a blank space in the next
sentence. At any moment, Sergio Garcia's name may bound off the
page and sprint over to another paragraph to cheer on some
European pronoun. Moving like a Ping-Pong ball in a hurricane,
Garcia couldn't be contained during the Ryder Cup. Not even his
teammates could keep up. "He runs everywhere," said Lee Westwood,
who was paired with Garcia in four matches. "He's hyperactive."
This is an article from the Oct. 7, 2002 issue
Garcia didn't quite steal the show at the Belfry, but it wasn't
for a lack of trying. On Sunday, when Paul McGinley made his
Cup-clinching putt at 18, there was Sergio on the side of the
green, jumping for joy, part kangaroo, part Riverdancer. As the
players in the next match, Pierre Fulke and Davis Love III,
waited in the 18th fairway for the green to clear, there came
Sergio, bounding toward them before sprawling on his back, waving
his arms and legs like a kid making an angel in the snow. The
next thing you knew, Fulke and a clearly perturbed Love decided
to call their match a draw and walk in. "It wasn't the way to
finish, but the Cup was over," said Love. "It was hard [for the
Europeans] not to celebrate."
Garcia had a couple of things to be excited about. First, his
underdog Euros had whipped the U.S. at its own game, singles.
Just as important, Garcia was off the hook. Although he and
Westwood had won their first three matches, in their fourth
Garcia missed a three-foot birdie putt on the next to last hole
and then bogeyed 18 to allow Love and Tiger Woods to steal a
point. Then on Sunday, with his singles match against David Toms
on the line, Garcia hit his drive on 18 into the pond left of the
fairway, forcing him eventually to concede the hole.
If those two points had cost Europe the Cup, Garcia would've had
his own Calcavecchian nightmare to contend with. Instead he could
make jokes and act as if his star were untarnished.
"Absolutely amazing" is how Garcia described his week at the
postmatch press conference. "Apart from the birth of my child ...
and my wedding...." Laughter rose as the 22-year-old Garcia, a
bachelor, repeated the lines he'd heard minutes earlier in
European captain Sam Torrance's emotional speech at the closing
Then Jesper Parnevik, who made a dynamic duo with Garcia at the
1999 Ryder Cup, in which they were 3-0-1 as a team, chimed in. He
needled Garcia for leaving him for Westwood and claimed to be
jealous. "At least you can say you won 3 1/2 points with me,"
Garcia told Parnevik. "I won only three with Lee."
Every Ryder Cup has its A teams, and last week each side had only
one pairing that remained intact for the first four sessions. For
the Europeans it was Garcia and Westwood. For the U.S., Toms and
Phil Mickelson went 2-1-1.
Toms, even though he won a major at the 2001 PGA, still emerged
as the revelation of this Ryder Cup. His steady play and calm
demeanor were a perfect fit with the streaky Mickelson. U.S.
captain Curtis Strange never doubted that Toms and Mickelson
would be a formidable twosome. "I expected Phil and David to be
my best team from the get-go," he said on Saturday. "Their
personalities mesh as well as their games, so I knew they were
going to be good."
Mickelson and Toms, batting cleanup on Friday morning, scored the
only U.S. point in the opening four-ball matches, their
nine-birdie 63 topping the 64 thrown at them by Niclas Fasth and
Padraig Harrington in a one-up victory. In the afternoon
alternate-shot match Mickelson and Toms rallied from three down
with five to play to halve with Bernhard Langer and Colin
Montgomerie, thanks to three straight birdies at 15, 16 and 17.
Said Mickelson, "That was our most memorable moment. Even though
it was only a half point, it was very uplifting because everyone
had written us off when we were three down."
Mickelson and Toms took down a game Fulke and Phillip Price 2 and
1 in alternate shot the next morning, temporarily giving the U.S.
a tie overall. The Americans' win featured an eagle at the par-5
15th. "David is one of the best drivers of the ball I've ever
seen," Mickelson said. "He has such control, and he's long. In
alternate shot I was in the fairway and closer to the green than
I normally am on my own ball." Harrington and Montgomerie finally
subdued Mickelson and Toms 2 and 1 in better-ball play that
afternoon but had to make eight birdies to do it.
On Sunday, Toms finished his week in style, defeating Garcia one
up in singles, coming back from two down with four birdies on the
closing nine. The victory was one of only two by the U.S. in
singles--Scott Verplank was a 2-and-1 winner over Westwood in the
other--and, as the second match of the day, momentarily slowed the
For the week only one player, Montgomerie, won more holes than
Toms--Monty won 26, Toms 24--and no one played as many (88). "I
came away with some kind of respect for that man, Toms," Strange
said on Sunday evening. "He has a Gene Littler-type swing with
power. He's going to be around a long time."
Garcia will be too. Montgomerie was the MVP of this Ryder Cup,
but Garcia is Europe's most talented player. He may also be the
most entertaining player in the world, and like countryman Seve
Ballesteros, he's a natural on the Ryder Cup stage, where he now
has a 6-3-1 record. "Sergio bleeds enthusiasm," says Strange. "He
lifts his partner."
Westwood was Exhibit A. Ranked 148th in the world--down from fifth
in 2000--he was stoked by Garcia. On Sunday evening the good vibe
was still evident. At the press conference Garcia jokingly said
he couldn't "remember who I played with," adding, "Lee was
great. To come through after what he's been going through...."
Westwood cut him off, saying, "Playing with you is twice as bad
as what I've been going through." The room erupted.
If he sticks with Garcia, Westwood, only 29, is likely to have a
lot more laughs at the Ryder Cup.
Read Gary Van Sickle's Underground Golfer at golfonline.com
The Hole Story
Here are the match and hole records of the players, who are
ranked by percentage of holes won.
MATCH RECORD HOLES HOLE RECORD WIN
W L H PLAYED W L H PCT.
David Toms 3 1 1 88 24 22 42 .273
Scott Verplank 2 1 0 52 13 10 29 .250
Phil Mickelson 2 2 1 86 21 23 42 .244
Tiger Woods 2 2 1 86 20 18 48 .233
Hal Sutton 1 1 0 32 7 9 16 .219
Davis Love III 2 1 1 66 14 13 39 .212
Jim Furyk 1 2 2 84 17 20 47 .202
Paul Azinger 0 1 1 36 7 8 21 .194
David Duval 1 1 1 51 9 12 30 .176
Mark Calcavecchia 1 2 0 49 8 14 27 .163
Stewart Cink 1 2 0 50 8 9 33 .160
Scott Hoch 0 3 1 65 10 20 35 .154
MATCH RECORD HOLES HOLE RECORD WIN
W L H PLAYED W L H PCT.
Colin Montgomerie 4 0 1 82 26 14 42 .317
Padraig Harrington 2 2 0 65 18 15 32 .277
Bernhard Langer 3 0 1 66 18 9 39 .273
Jesper Parnevik 0 1 1 36 9 10 17 .250
Phillip Price 1 1 0 33 8 7 18 .242
Niclas Fasth 0 2 1 54 13 15 26 .241
Sergio Garcia 3 2 0 85 20 14 51 .235
Lee Westwood 3 2 0 84 19 14 51 .226
Paul McGinley 0 1 2 52 11 14 27 .216
Pierre Fulke 0 1 1 35 7 9 19 .200
Thomas Bjorn 2 2 0 67 13 16 38 .194
Darren Clarke 1 2 2 86 16 21 49 .186