Ripe Field Sergio Garcia's second win in five weeks sets the stage for a super Open

June 20, 2004

On Sunday, a week before Father's Day, Victor Garcia followed his
son Sergio around Westchester Country Club. Early in the round
Victor's boy dropped two shots to fall to six under, six shots
off the lead. But on the 7th Sergio caught fire, making birdie
there and on the next three holes as well to get back in
contention. At 16 the son faced a testy eight-footer that would
move him to 11 under and give him a share of the lead. As the
ball rolled into the cup, the usually laconic Victor let out a
long, low growl and yelled, "Vamos! Vamos!"

And go Sergio did. After another birdie at 18 made him the
clubhouse leader at 12-under 272, Garcia eventually faced Padraig
Harrington and Rory Sabbatini in a playoff, which he won on the
third hole. Afterward Garcia, who also won the Buick in 2001,
thanked Brad Faxon--for a putting tip--and his parents.

Of course, in order for any of that late-round action to be
televised, Sergio would have had to hit an errant tee shot into
his father's groin. Or at least that would seem to be the case
since ABC cut away from the playoff to show America's Funniest
Home Videos. Before signing off, the network announced that
sister station ESPN would follow the action during Baseball
Tonight, but ESPN showed only three shots, lasting perhaps 10
seconds each.

"According to our contract, ABC does have the right to go off the
air at 7 p.m. Eastern time," says Bob Combs, the Tour's senior
vice president of communications, "but when we can see things are
going to run long, we try to come up with contingencies. In this
case the contingency was to go to ESPN during Baseball Tonight.
We were disappointed, though, because our understanding was that
ESPN would show all the shots and then cut back to Baseball
Tonight in between. But that did not turn out to be the case."

None of that mattered to Garcia, who proved that his much
discussed swing changes are now ingrained and he's ready to make
a run at winning his first major. "If I hadn't won here, I'd
still be confident [in the upcoming U.S. Open] because I've been
playing well," he said, "but it definitely helps.... I hope to
keep that momentum, ride that momentum to next week and hopefully
get it going there and give myself a chance on the back nine on
Sunday. That's all you can ask for."

At the very least Garcia's win creates a terrific atmosphere for
this week's Open. In the two months since Phil Mickelson won the
Masters, Garcia and Vijay Singh have won twice. Ernie Els also
won his second tournament of the year, and although Tiger Woods
hasn't won, he played 63 very Tiger-like holes en route to a
third-place finish at the Memorial two weeks ago. In short, the
game's biggest names are playing well as the national
championship dawns.

There's only one thing left to do. Vamos!

COLOR PHOTO: CHUCK SOLOMON (GARCIA) PUNCHING OUT It was 7:30 p.m. on the East Coast when Garcia put a wrap on the week. COLOR PHOTO: DAVID WALBERG (DUVAL) COLOR PHOTO: ROBERT BECK (MONTGOMERIE) TWO COLOR PHOTOS: LOGOS COURTESY OF ABC AND CBS

Trust Me

Shinnecock Hills is the apple of everyone's eye at the moment,
but when the season is over, Whistling Straits is the course that
will have made the best impression.

Up & Down

[Up]

David Duval, Jim Furyk
Extra points for chutzpah as they throw caution to the wind to
play in the Open.

CBS
The Masters network extended coverage to get in all of the LPGA
Championship.

Westchester
One of the few classic courses left on Tour, the pros love this
tight, 6,783-yard gem.

[Down]

John Daly, Colin Montgomerie
They felt qualifying for the Open was beneath them, so they
didn't even try.

ABC
With four channels at its disposal, it abandoned the Buick in
mid-playoff.

Westchester
The drivable par-4s and reachable par-5s lead to five-hour
rounds--and TV blackouts.

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)