Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia dueled at the 1999 PGA Championship giving us a preview of the youth phenom’s
For most, 1999 was an eventful year for major championships as the PGA Championship was just after the famous Jean Van de Velde’s epic collapse at Carnoustie at the British Open. The 1999 PGA Championship at Medinah featured a showdown of two of the best young players in the game in Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia. Woods at that time already had acquired his first major at the 1997 Masters Tournament where he overpowered the rest of the field finishing with -18, a record winning margin. Sergio Garcia was an up and coming youngster reminiscent of Seve Ballesteros, nineteen years old at the time of the 1999 PGA Championship and fearless.
Tiger Woods opened play on the final day by going a steady three under par while Sergio struggled out the gate. Garcia bogey’d the second hole but bounced back with a nice birdie at the par-5, fifth hole to finish even on the front nine. Halfway through the backnine is where things got interesting for the duo. They both managed a birdie in the opening holes but Woods had a major gaffe at the par-3, 13th hole over water. Woods knowing that Sergio made birdie there knew he had to be long to avoid trouble with the water hazard. The smart choice deemed to be the costly one as Woods sailed his ball over the green into thick rough. Having to take a full swing chip to get out of the rough Woods misfired and his ball went into the water causing him to double bogey the hole.
Garcia was down but never gave up…
Sergio miraculously kept his pursuit of Woods alive when he hit an amazing shot at the 16th hole. Garcia’s drive crept under an oak tree and came to rest on a root. In what many call the “shot of Sergio’s career” the 19 year old closed his eyes and swung as hard as he could. A lively Garcia ran up the fairway to see the if the ball had any hopes. Amazingly he hit the left side of the green in what was an almost impossible shot to put to the pressure on the Tiger. “I wanted him to know that I was still there and that he had to finish well to win,” Garcia said. He par’d out from the 16th but it wasn’t enough to overcome Tiger’s hot start of the day.
Present day the stats still ring true, Tiger Woods…18 Major Championships. Sergio Garcia….0 Major Championships. Sergio has had close calls since this defeat especially in 2008 when he lost the PGA Championship to Padraig Harrington after losing sole ownership of the lead on the final day. What many thought this was the beginning of a great golf rivalry were ultimately disappointed. Nobody could catch Tiger Woods of course–from 1999-2009 he was nearly untouchable collecting over 50 wins and 13 majors in that specific time period.