Stars always drive interest, and for golf fans, there’s plenty of them – and many have been making noise leading up to the U.S. Open.
Sergio Garcia, the affable Spaniard who has suffered many near-misses in recent years, finally pulled it all together at the AT&T Byron Nelson by winning in a playoff over Brooks Koepka. Garcia’s 2-under in the final round was enough as Koepka struggled to hold the lead down the stretch with multiple bogeys, a stroke of luck he told the PGA Tour he was grateful for: ““You have to get lucky to win tournaments,” Garcia said. “Playing well usually is not enough …It’s nice to be on the other side of the coin.”
He knows he’ll be looking to improve upon a spotty Masters record: he has struggled the last two years, finishing T-17 in 2015 and T-34 in 2016.
Meanwhile, Jordan Spieth notched his first win in his home state of Texas by three strokes over former University of Georgia Bulldog Harris English, and one could argue that his luck has turned back to good fortunes after a chip-in on No. 17 that was made possible by a fortunate bounce off the grandstand. But as golf’s next major approaches, the world’s second-ranked golfer suddenly looks to be back to prime form.
He only trails Australia’s Jason Day in the rankings, and Day has had quite the season so far: Three victories (including back-to-back wins in March) and four other top-11 finishes in his 11 tournaments played. And lest you think he’s cooled off recently, Day won The PLAYERS Championship in May vs. a stacked field before taking two weeks off. His rest will be one of the wild card factors to watch for.
Meanwhile, the 2017 Masters Tournament will welcome William McGirt for the first time, as he held off challenges from Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, and outlasted Jon Curran in a playoff for his first PGA Tour victory in the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide.
His win also propelled him high enough in the Official World Golf Rankings to earn a spot in this year’s U.S. Open, just before the field is established as qualifying is underway for those looking to earn their way in.
The results, as is typical of all majors, may have a dramatic impact on who we see on golf’s brightest stages in the year to come.
Photo of Sergio Garcia, in 2008. Used from Wikimedia Commons. Originally uploaded by Craig O’Neal. Used under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 license.