As wonderful as it was to see Sergio Garcia secure his first major golf championship at the 2017 Masters, let’s go back 18 years to recall perhaps his most exciting moment on the PGA Tour.
Garcia was 19 at the time, a young Spaniard known mostly for following in the footsteps of fellow countryman Seve Ballesteros. And at the 1999 PGA Championship at Medinah in Illinois, Garcia’s main competition was a 23-year-old Tiger Woods, still the winner of only one major title himself at the time (the 1997 Masters that launched him into stardom).
Woods ended up winning the PGA Championship tournament in ’99 by a stroke over Garcia, but it was what Sergio accomplished from the 16th hole fairway that many remember about that week. Trailing Woods by 2 shots coming down the closing stretch, Garcia’s ball landed behind a tree, seemingly with no shot to the hole or the green. But instead of pitching out and laying up, Sergio launched a shot with a Hulking swing that landed his ball on the green. He made par, which was soon followed by a bogey from Tiger Woods, closing the lead to just one shot. Woods held on over the final holes for the narrow victory and his second major.
The Woods-Garcia battle in 1999 peaked my interest in golf, and it was about that time that I would get my own set of clubs and begin playing with my Dad.
So it was fun to see Garcia finally complete his major mission this week at The Masters in Augusta, Ga. But even if he hadn’t, I’d always have the memory of the shot Sergio hit back when I was 15 years old, a teenager at the time, just like Sergio.