Sergio Garcia Pulls Off Win at Wyndham Championship
Sergio Garcia told reporters earlier this week that golf was only part of his life, the money didn’t mean that much.
Don’t believe a word of it. He was a picture Sunday and Monday of a man who desperately wanted to win an American tournament for the first time since 2008.
And he did. He shot a final 66 to win the 2012 Wyndham Championship by two shots over Raleigh’s Tim Clark on the Sedgefield Country Club course. This is the course where Garcia made his American debut as a golfer in a mini-tour event in 1998. Others edged close in the final, rain-delayed 4th day, but in the end Sergio surged. He birdied the 13th, 15th, 16th and 17th holes to separate him from the field by three shots. A bogey on the final hole - a good one considering he nearly holed a putt from one side of the green to the other - dropped his margin to two shots. He was 18 under par for the four rounds.
At the ceremony afterwards on the 18.th green where he was handed an oversized check for $936,000, he thanked the Sedgefield course maintenance staff for a stupendous job in getting the course playable today after a saturating rain halted the final round Sunday and sent it into Monday.
“You guys did an amazing job,” he said. “It’s great to be a part of it.”
Garcia becomes the second Spaniard to win at Greensboro. His hero, the late Seve Ballesteros won his first American tournament here in 1978 when what’s now called the Wyndham was played at Forest Oaks Country Club.
Garcia’s determination was apparent Sunday, when rain stopped his round on the 5th hole, and again Monday morning when play resumed. On the practice tee Sunday, he sat at a table and studied notes he had taken while playing earlier in the tournament.
Throughout the round he continued to jot notes in the book he carried.
On the second hole, while in the rough, he must have studied his shot a good four minutes.
Unlike other golfers who have their caddies pace off the distances, Garcia did it all himself.
He and his regular caddy parted ways after Garcia missed the cut at the PGA Championship week before last. His caddy here is lucky guy, David Faircloth, who caddies at the exclusive Eagle Point Club near Figure Eight Island. He came to Greensboro Wednesday to caddy in the pro-am for Bobby Long, an Eagle Point member and president of the foundation that stages the Wyndham. When Long heard Garcia needed a caddy, he recommended Faircloth. They teamed up an hour before Garcia teed off Thursday in the first round.
“He’s the best, fantastic,” Long said of Faircloth, while standing behind the 18th green as Garcia and Bud Cauley, who finished third, played the final hole.
Typically, caddies get 10 percent of a tournament’s winner’s check. Thus, Faircloth would be in line for $93,000, which as one CBS announcer says, tops any $50 tip he receives at Eagle Point. Except that Faircloth probably won’t get that lofty of a sum. Garcia used him mainly as a bag toter. The golfer read the greens, paced the yardage and selected the clubs himself.
“I’ll have to look at it,” Garcia said. “Obviously he’s not going to get what a normal caddy would get because his job was fairly easy. The toughest thing for him was probably for his legs...”
Garcia he was glad to take over the role of caddy, explaining he probably depended too much on one in the past.
He was a more outgoing Garcia than normal. When he made a birdie on the par 3 third hole, he gave the Bridgestone ball to Aaron Harris, who was carrying the board with Garcia’s and Cauley’s scores. He was seen laughing with the CBS crew that followed with cameras and microphone. Garcia said it was nice to see some Latin Americans in his gallery cheering in Spanish.
Attendance figures weren’t available, but several thousand people at least came out Monday. Tournament media director Rob Goodson said, “It was awesome for a rain out.”
One woman who was there at 9 a.m. to watch Garcia resume play said, “I thought I was going to be the only one out here.”
Indeed, an hour before dark skies looked like doomsday. But when the horn sounded for the players to start striking balls again, the atmosphere had improved and the threat of serious rain had past. By the time Garcia tapped in the final putt on 18 the sun was shining.
It was the first time the tournament had finished on Monday since 1983, a cold, rainy marathon won by Lanny Watkins, another of those Wake Forest golfers who were on the tour back then.
They have been followed by a new generation of Demon Deacs who are cashing big checks on tour. Wake’s Bill Haas remained in striking distance of Garcia getting to 13 under on the 15th hole, three shots back, and finished at that total. Defending champion Webb Simpson, another alumnus from the Winston-Salem school, got to 11 under but finished at 9 under.
Clark and Carl Pettersson made N.C. State look good. In addition to Clark finishing second - after holing a long putt on 18 - Petterrsson made some nice shots on the back side that included an eagle on the par 5 15th. He tied for fourth at 14 under. UNC alumnus Davis Love IV shot a one under 69 to tie for 10th at 12 under par.
The 32-year-old Garcia now moves on this week to a tournament in New York at the Bethpage course, one of America’s most difficult. Like all great athletes, Garcia says he leaves Greensboro not satisfied.
“It was a great week, but I can still play better,” he said. “There are still some shots I can get better at.”
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