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Sergio García’s idyll with the Stadium course

Sergio García executes a shot with the driver yesterday at the Stadium course. / afp

Winner of The Players in 2008, the player from Castellón has a record in this field: he has made the cut 17 times in a row

Ivan Orio

IVÁN ORIO Jacksonville

Sergio García and the Stadium course know each other too well. The player from Castellón has been a fixture at The Players since 2004 and the TPC Sawgrass field has never managed to beat him in these more than fifteen years of battle. He has passed the cut seventeen consecutive times, an absolute record in this emblematic setting, and achieved victory in 2008 after winning the playoff against Paul Goydos on the iconic 17th hole, the most famous par three in the world and the claim of this club of Florida. The image of the player from Borriol kissing the putter before the 10,000 people who packed the slopes and the galleries that shelter this green raised on a lake is one of the most remembered by fans. It is also one of the most repeated in the promotional videos of the PGA Tour.

Where is the secret of this idyll? The main factor that explains it is that this route is designed to reward precision. In all scenarios you have to be accurate, but in this one in particular the woods and irons must have the point of sight perfectly calibrated, without the slightest deviation. It’s a course for great ‘setters’, the pros who are able to pick the exact spot the ball should go and then send it there many times. And in this area, the 42-year-old from Levante has always been a master. He has gaps, like everyone else, but when it comes to finding favorable corners on technical holes, his reliability is remarkable. It is no coincidence that two of his favorite courses are the Stadium Course and Valderrama. So different, so alike.

A fact that highlights the seventeen consecutive cuts made by Sergio García is that the next in that ranking is none other than Tiger Woods, with fourteen. Another is that The Players brings together the best players in the world and the quest to get to the weekend is always very demanding. The tiebreaker that gave him the victory in what is considered the fifth ‘Major’ of the Grand Slam had an unexpected outcome because his opponent, the American Goydos, was overwhelmed by the pressure against his compatriots and sent the ball into the water. Surprising and brave reaction from Castellón who, far from betting on a conservative shot, looked for the flag. He left the sphere less than a meter from the hole. Later, two putters to certify the victory and inscribe his name in the tournament forever.

His start in this edition indicates that, in the absence of a landslide, he will add a new cut more saved, number 18. The winner of the Green Jacket in 2017 finished the first day at TPC Sawgrass with a shot below par . He managed three birdies, but a bogey and, above all, a double bogey on the 18th hole prevented him from further polishing his card. And he was once again the protagonist in 17, in which he emerged the winner fourteen years ago. He hit a long putt for a birdie and drew a roar from the fans.

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