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Sports :: Under Pressure
  submitted on August 7, 2006, 6:55 PM


Originally posted on The Sports Oratory

As last weekend's British Open came to a close, we once again saw the familiar scene of Tiger Woods putting on the 18th for yet another major tournament victory. It was Tiger's eleventh overall major, and third British Open win. He was first in the field in putting, tenth in driving, and his iron shots were a thing of beauty. What was probably most talked about was the fact that this was Tiger's first victory since his father, Earl Woods, passed away earlier in the year. It was also his first major since the U.S. Open, which saw Woods miss his first cut in a major tournament as a professional golfer. The win on Sunday was his third on the year, and his fifth Top 3 finish. As the most dominating figure in golf at the moment, none of this comes as any surprise.

What also shouldn't come as a surprise was how another golfer faired in the tournament. Outside of Tiger, Chris DiMarco received a lot of attention for a spectacular final round, and an excellent attempt to win, only to fall short due to Tiger's clutch performance on the back nine. However, the most striking figure on Sunday outside of Woods may have been his partner, Sergio Garcia. Sergio came into Sunday tied for second place, only two strokes behind Tiger. He then proceeded to shoot his worst round of the tournament, a 73, and wound up in fith at 11-under. Watching the broadcast on television, it was hard not to notice Sergio's latest attempt to cluth defeat from the grasps of victory. Often times considered the best player on the Tour to never win a major, Garcia has very clearly established his inability to get it together come Sunday. In every tournament but two this year Garcia has had his worse round fall on the final day. He has failed to make the cut in three tournies, most notably the U.S. Open. Apparently if Sergio can't emulate Tiger's winning ways, he might as well emulate the losing ones.

Looking at 2005, Sergio again had his worse rounds of golf in eight tournaments, actually managing to win one in a playoff. His whole career has been marked by coming 'this close' to winning a major, only to have one thing or another go wrong in the end. And yet, when he first came onto the scene, he immediately drew many comparisons to Tiger Woods. He was young, only 19, and clearly had a lot of upside to his game. Tiger was destroying everything in his path at the time, so it was a logical conclusion to make. Sergio even made the cocky remark about how Tiger now had some competition. Here we are, seven years later, and it makes one wonder if Garcia would have been so quick to make such a comparison if he had known how his career thus far would turn out. Tiger Woods has now reached double digits when it comes to major tournament victories, while Sergio continues to search for win number one.

While the Garcia/Woods comparisons have died down, unless being used as part of a joke being told, the final round of the British Open was a perfect display of what path each respective man has headed down since their so-called 'rivalry' began back in 1999. Woods started the day with a two shot lead over Sergio and the rest of the field, and ended up winning by two shots with one his better clutch performances, posting a 4-under 68. Sergio, meanwhile, managed to make it into the final pairing, only to struggle, missing virtually every important putt he had to make during the day, and by the time he reached the back nine, it was clear that Sergio had once again collapsed under the pressure. In a tournament that many called 'typical' due to Tiger's success, it could also be considered 'typical' just as easily due to Sergio's failure.

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