Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Second-Place Showcase Runners-Up Steal Show at Majors

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Second-Place Showcase Runners-Up Steal Show at Majors

Article excerpt

MEDINAH, Ill. -- Professional golf is supposed to be all about winning. Second place? That's usually just a pretty good week of work, with a nice payday, and a quick escape from the scorer's trailer to avoid watching the winner kiss a trophy and lug away an oversized cardboard check.

But the four men who won golf's major championships in 1999 may have been overshadowed by runners-up who provided the most compelling stories.

Perhaps in the future, fans will remember mostly that Jose-Maria Olazabal won The Masters, Payne Stewart the U.S Open, Paul Lawrie the British Open and Tiger Woods the PGA Championship.

Or will they remember the near-resurrection of Greg Norman, the anxious, nervous baby-watch for Phil Mickelson, the tragedy of Jean Van de Velde and finally, the joy and youthful spirit that was Sergio Garcia?

Garcia, the 19-year-old Spaniard who leaped, ran, smiled and dashed around the Medinah Country Club in his bid to overtake Woods for the PGA Sunday, grabbed headlines and hearts as he came in second by one shot.

A rivalry may have been hatched and Garcia was a crowd favorite all week, to the point where Woods had to deal with hecklers.

And, oddly enough, the 23-year-old Woods sounded like an aging gunslinger barely hanging on against the new kid in town.

"It was wonderful to see," Woods admitted about Garcia.

"He was emotional, he was fiery. He was trying. He never dogged it. He has a tremendous amount of fight, and you can tell by the way he plays, by the way he walks around the golf course."

Or, in the case of the shot of the tournament, the way Garcia sprints around a course.

Garcia plays golf like he's running an obstacle course, doing Sammy Sosa-like hops and skips to urge putts in the hole and running after he hits recovery shots, almost trying to beat the ball to the green.

His version of extreme golf was never more evident than at Medinah's 16th hole on Sunday afternoon.

Trailing Woods by just two shots after a bogey on No. 15 Sunday, Garcia hit his drive against a tree on the right side of the 16th fairway.

Attempting a shot that could have snapped a wrist -- or at least a shaft -- Garcia cracked the ball low and long, and rolled it onto the green from 190 yards out. …

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