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Tour Report: Albers’ final-round observations

PGATOUR.com

By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent

Putting prowess: Sergio Garcia has always been known as a great ball striker. In 2008, I watched him hit every fairway in the second round of THE PLAYERS Championship while averaging more than 300 yards per drive. It’s his putting that has held Garcia back in recent years. In 2010 he was ranked 159th in strokes gained – putting and last year he was 144th. This year, Garcia is ranked 38th. He was even better this week finishing 21st in strokes gained – putting for the Wyndham Championship. Garcia took 27-27-27-26 putts to cover 72 holes which ranked second in the tournament. Why the improvement? After experimenting with numerous grips and longer putters, Garcia has committed to a modified claw grip and conventional length shaft.

Steady: Bud Cauley has several great attributes but his demeanor might serve him best over the course of his PGA TOUR career. He’s just 22 years old and seems implacable on the golf course. Cauley is able to walk away from birdies and bogeys with the same facial expression. You rarely see that in a young player. Golfers who ride an emotional roller coaster expend so much needless energy channeling anger and elation, it detracts from concentration needed to compete. Cauley has a handle on his emotions at a very young age and is just one reason why his future is so promising.

Green speed: Sedgefield Country Club featured an unusual combination in the final round, greens that were receptive and fast. The putting surfaces were both cut and rolled following Sunday’s rain and the speed changed. Players were expecting the rain softened greens to lose a little speed and that was not the case. Very few putts were left short in the final round and many went racing by the cup in the first few holes until players adjusted.

White pants: I’m always impressed with players who wear white pants in wet conditions. All it takes it one shot that is a little chunky and you spend the rest of the day with mud splattered against white fabric. You can immediately tell a player’s ball striking ability when he wears white pants. Sergio Garcia wore white on Monday but that was misleading. His white pants also serve as rain pants. Sergio was both stylish and mud free in the final round.

Bunker play: Sergio Garcia was able to birdie the 15th hole thanks to a wonderful bunker shot. He was just short of the green after two shots on the par five but in the bunker. Garcia used a 52 degree sand wedge to spin the ball to within three feet of the cup and then made the birdie conversion. The Spaniard is ranked 40th on TOUR this season in bunker play, getting up-and-down 70 percent of the time. This weekend he was 100 percent out of bunkers getting up-and-down every time.

Back nine: Tournaments are always won over the course of the last nine holes and Sergio Garcia sparkled when it mattered most. He made five birdies on the way home, including three in a row, Monday. Bud Cauley had two birdies over the same stretch and Tim Clark chipped in on the 18th for his lone birdie on the back nine.  For the week, Garcia had a dozen birdies on the back nine and played those 36 holes in eight under par.

Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here.


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