Yesterday was a really good day if you’re a Tiger Woods fan.
If you’re a fan of Sergio Garcia, it was… how shall we put this… a painful day.
I’m a fan of both players, and this despite the fact that there’s apparently very little love lost between the two.
But when it came down to the wire of the Tournament Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass yesterday, it was Mr. Woods who had the composure and consistency to see his way to a second victory on the famed Pete Dye track which served as the inspiration for all other TPC courses.
And, not unlike this year’s Masters, there was lots of drama from players new and old.
David Lingmerth, a Swedish journeyman who spent some time at the University of Arkansas (did you see that Pig Soeey hog head cover of his?), emerged as if from nowhere off the wilds of the Web.com tour and was in it to win it, holding his own with Sergio and Tiger up until the bitter end, missing a 50-something footer on 18 and his opportunity to play Tiger in playoff.
There were some other big moments throughout the weekend, but two will stand out in my mind. One was Tiger’s miss into the water on 14, which led to a double bogey and which brought him back even with Garcia, Lingmerth, and 49 year-old Jeff Maggert.
And the other, of course, was hole number 17, the renowned island green that has been the bane of pro golfers everywhere.
I’m not sure what it is about that hole -- I played it once in 1998, and it took me a couple of shots to keep the ball on the green -- but it’s the kind of hole that can get in your head.
And yesterday, it got inside Sergio’s, if only for a couple of minutes, but that’s all it took for the damage to be done.
Sergio was tied with Tiger, who was pushing on to the 18th. He stepped up and put his first shot into the water short right by a couple of feet. Not good.
Then, instead of taking relief from the drop zone, which shortens the shot but with Sunday’s pin placement didn’t exactly provide an optimal angle, Sergio stepped up full distance for another shot.
This time, it struck ground just shy and right of the small sand trap, but the ball bounced backwards and into the drink.
It was starting to feel a little bit like that classic moment from Tin Cup, when Molly Griswold exclaims to golf has-been Roy McAvoy: “Five years from now nobody will remember who won or lost, but they’re gonna remember your 12!”
Sergio was now hitting five, and, indeed, the third time was a charm.
Meanwhile, Tiger hits a stinging drive across the water and into the middle of the fairway on 18, leaving himself an easy chip to the green.
Sergio knocked his own drive into the drink on 18 a few minutes later, and went quad-bogey and double-bogey, losing six shots in the last two holes.
As for the golf-viewing audience — well, all I can say is we got our money’s worth, and then some. And if Tiger’s play was any kind of preview for the US Open at Merion in a few weeks, more golf drama could soon ensue.
Including the drama between this weekend’s chief protagonists!