Bill Nichols

Friday, May 27, 2011

Inside the Ropes: HP Byron Nelson Championship

IRVING _ Sergio Garcia is making putts, which is scary, at least to other contenders at the HP Byron Nelson Championship.

Sure, Garcia’s ballstriking has been impressive through two rounds at the TPC Four Seasons at Las Colinas. He’s hit 18 of 28 fairways, and 27 greens.

But his putting has been the main reason he’s tied for the lead with Colleyville’s Ryan Palmer. Clutch putts have helped Garcia post matching 66s.

He’s tied for first in distance of putts made, and 16th in the new putts gained stat. He’s also sick of talking about his putting woes.

``I’ve pretty much had enough of that,’’ Garcia said. ``I know where I stand. I don’t need any stat to tell me if I’m putting well or bad. I know if I’m putting well or bad. If the way I putt is with confidence, even if I miss them, I can live with that.’’

Garcia has experimented with putters and grips the past couple of years. He’s using the claw grip _ holding his right hand with the fingers of his right hand on top of the club instead of under like a conventional grip.

``I think it’s much better,’’ he said. ``I feel like I know what I’m doing and I’m the one that needs to be happy with it.’’


The infected finger that forced Garcia to withdraw from British Open qualifying was not caused by hitting golf balls. It was a basketball injury, kinda.

Garcia was nervously picking his nails while watching his Miami Heat’s playoff game against the Chicago Bulls.

``I was watching and just going like this,’’ Garcia told Ropes, squeezing his fingers together. ``I pulled off just a little piece of skin, and it got infected.’’

Fortunately for Garcia, the Mavericks-Heat series begins on Tuesday, not this weekend.


Brandt Jobe is so old-school, he likes his irons to look rusty. When they actually get old, he calls Callaway and says, ``I’ll have an order of prototypes, hold the chrome.’’

Jobe’s golf bag contains a hodgepodge of sticks. In addition to his rustic Callaway irons, he rolls with a TaylorMade Burner Superfast driver, a TaylorMade R-11 white fairway metal, a Titleist hybrid, two Titleist Vokey wedges, one Cleveland wedge, and a Scotty Cameron putter.

If Jobe ever gets stranded in the desert, he can survive for months. Asked what’s inside the bag, caddie Jeff Willett said, ``pretty much everything,’’ as he unzipped a pocket and pulled out the survival bag: First-aid kit, eye drops, insect repellent, sun screen, contact lens case, and, of course, super glue to bond the ridges of crinkled skin on his dry hands.


Monday qualifier Sam Smith from Midwestern State was asked before the tournament how far he drove the ball.

``I can hit it 380,’’ Smith said. ``What’s that number again,’’ a reporter asked. ``I want to make sure I heard that right.’’

Smith wasn’t lying. His drive on No. 3 was measured 380 yards by ShotLink. It was the second longest drive of the day (Charley Hoffman went 386 on No. 1).


Garcia hit a 321-yard drive on No. 12, which was impressive until playing partner Dustin Johnson’s ball blew 38 yards past his. Garcia, who started walking when Johnson made contact, turned back shaking his head.

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