Wednesday, June 7, 2006
Garcia is going to fire it up at Westchester
By E. Michael Johnson
The old saw about the Barclays Classic is that it's a tune-up for the U.S. Open. And it's true. Westchester CC's tight fairways, deep rough and small greens present many of the challenges players will find next week in the national championship at Winged Foot GC.
Although players such as Duffy Waldorf and Chris Smith sometimes triumph at Westchester, expect a big-name winner. Like Phil Mickelson in Atlanta the week before The Masters, a star will put on a world-class performance this week.
The problem is, the superstars aren't playing up to their abilities right now. I would choose Padraig Harrington, who won the Barclays last year and was T-2 the year before. But the Irishman's only top-10 finish in the United States this year was at the WGC-Accenture Match Play. Ernie Els has only one top-10 at Westchester since he won in 1997, and I don't like that 81 he fired Sunday at the Memorial. Vijay Singh? Hasn't finished in the top 35 in his last four PGA Tour events. Phil Mickelson or Retief Goosen? Too focused on Winged Foot.
The pick here is Sergio Garcia, purely on track record. The Spaniard has four top-fours in five appearances at Westchester, including a pair of wins. Look for him to grab title No. 3 this week.
E. Michael Johnson is an editor for Golf World magazine.