Stadium Stories: Garcia prevails

THE PLAYERS 2008: Sergio Garcia

Warm and blustery winds moved wildly and indiscriminately throughout THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass, but that was nothing compared to the haphazard dash made by thousands of fans after the final hole of regulation at THE PLAYERS Championship 2008.

The greatest amphitheater in sports was their destination — Pete Dye’s magical corner of the Stadium Course, down where the 16th green and the island-green 17th present drama by the hours.

A playoff was in order, given that Paul Goydos had bogeyed the 72nd hole to shoot 74 and fall to 5-under 283, tied with Sergio Garcia (71), and that meant a most delectable opportunity: For this year, at least, the 17th had been designated as starting point of any sudden death playoff.

So fans raced to grab the last open spaces of grass on the massive hill, the sight serving as testament to Pete Dye’s brilliant vision of stadium golf.

Unfortunately for Goydos, there’s no vision of when a gust of wind will appear, so he was helpless after making solid contact with a pitching wedge. His ball got knocked down and splashed. The door wide open, Garcia took advantage, made his par and earned the biggest win of a career that had been lengthy for someone so young.

Emphasis on “young,” because “when I play like a kid, I usually do well,” said Garcia, 28.

No argument from Goydos, who praised the Spaniard’s ball-striking brilliance in big wind. “I can’t tackle that little guy. You have to accept the guy beat me.”

“When I play like a kid, I usually do well.” - Sergio Garcia