Will Sergio and Tiger be paired together on Sunday’s Player’s Championship?

Tiger Woods at the Players

 

It may not be classified as a “major”, but the Player’s Championship is one of the PGA’s most sought after victories.  Day two was highlighted by numerous low scores, and a first page of the leaderboard that displayed past winners, and some of the best in the game.

The Spaniard, Sergio Garcia is atop the board after 36 holes at 11 under par.  He won the tournament in 2008.  Chasing him is Tiger Woods at 10 under par.  Tiger has won the Players only once in 2001.  Saying he has only one win may sound strange, but he has 77 PGA tour wins, and several of them more than once.

The course “TPC Sawgrass” did defeat some big names.  Among the well-known players not to make it to the weekend are Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler, Ernie Els, Graeme McDowell and Vijay Singh.

Tiger is in a good position to win his 4th tournament this year.  He has not had great success here, but as he points out, he did win twice, once as an amateur.

Garcia shot 65, including 5 consecutive birdies.  “I don’t have to measure myself against anybody,” said Garcia. “I know what I want to try to do and any given day, I can shoot a round like this and any other day he can shoot a good round and beat me.”

They will be in the final pairing for Saturday’s third round.  Their relationship is reported as ‘cordial’, though they don’t make dinner plans.

The first time Sergio Garcia and Tiger Woods were matched in meaningful competition, was in the 1999 PGA Championship.  Garcia was 19 years old, and Tiger was 23 when they met in Medinah.  Sergio was five strokes back, with seven to play when they reached the 13th hole.  Tiger double bogeyed, and Sergio made birdie.

After Sergio sunk a long birdie on the par three hole, his eyes met Tiger’s for just a second.  “I was kind of telling him – if you want to win, you have to play well,” Garcia said afterward.

On the 16th, Garcia found his ball lodged in the roots of a tree.  He took an eyes closed, blind swing at the ball, which miraculously landed on the green.

An undaunted Woods made a difficult downhill eight foot putt on the 17th to keep his one shot lead.  Tiger made par on the 18th to win his second major.  He had won the 1997 Masters in record fashion.

“Like we always say, it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon,” Garcia said about his chances to add his name to the list of multiple winners of this championship, which is often referred to as the fifth major.

“So just got to enjoy the good ones as much as possible.”

Right behind Garcia and Woods are Kevin Chappell, 2009 Players champion Henrik Stenson, and Lee Westwood who are at 9 under.

Will Sergio and Tiger be paired together on Sunday as well?  Golf fans can only hope so.  They are both competitive and confident.  They also share a trait which all golfers, amateur and professional, would love to have.  When their putters get hot, they are virtually unbeatable.

James Turnage

Columnist-The Guardian Express

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