How can we not start this weekend’s fantasy golf report with Sergio Garcia? Considered one of the best golfers over the last ten years not to have a won a major, it was finally Garcia’s time to shine this past weekend in Augusta when he beat the Olympic gold medalist and former U.S. Open champion Justin Rose in a playoff.
Prior to Sunday’s win, Garcia had been in the top ten 22 times at a major, but was never in the winner’s circle. I think not many golf experts would have thought it would have taken 18 years since Garcia won the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year Award in 1999 to win a golf major, however the fact that he has come close (four second place finishes) so often in the past strengthened his relationship with the Georgian crowd.
It would have been interesting to see if Garcia would have received the same support down the stretch if he was going head-to-head against an American rather than an Englishman. It was probably to his advantage that Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth were horrible on Sunday.
Now many of the top ranked golfers in the world will take some time off this weekend from the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. That list includes Garcia, Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson (who pulled out of the Masters because of a back injury falling down a step), Spieth, Fowler, Hideki Matsuyama and Jon Rahm.
Interestingly the top golfer in the Hilton Head field from the FedEx Cup rankings is Canada’s own Adam Hadwin, who is currently in fifth place. It will be interesting to see if Hadwin is able to bounce back after a rather disappointing Masters where he finished at +6, and 15 shots back of Rose and Garcia. My feeling is he will and should benefit by the fact that many of the world’s best will be taking some time off.
In order for Hadwin to win his second tournament in 2017, he will have to perform well under pressure in a field that has notable international talent. Hadwin’s opponents will include major champions Martin Kaymer and Graeme McDowell. A golfer I like this weekend as a darkhorse is American Patrick Cantlay of Long Beach, California. Cantlay experienced heartbreak a year ago when his caddie, Chris Roth, was killed by a hit-and-run driver as he was crossing the street. Cantlay was with Roth at the time and saw the entire incident take place.
Cantlay has only played in three events this year. However he has made the cut each time and his best result was a second place, where he finished right behind Hadwin at the Valspar Championship in Tampa Bay.