Fortunate Garcia moves on

Spaniard uses 'Get out of jail free card' after rallying from 3 down; up next, Clark
2010-02-19T00:00:00Z 2014-07-08T16:12:56Z Fortunate Garcia moves onPatrick Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
February 19, 2010 12:00 am  • 

Sergio Garcia isn't playing well, and he knows it.

The Spaniard trailed Denmark's Anders Hansen by three through the first five holes Thursday in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, Dove Mountain.

On the day, Garcia recorded three bogeys - all very ordinary - before winning 2 and 1.

If Garcia's stay in Tucson followed script, he'd be gone by now, the latest household name chased away by the mystical nature of match play.

After all, the second, third and fourth highest-ranked players in the tournament were eliminated in the second round Thursday.

So was the defending champion, Geoff Ogilvy. And Rory McIlroy, international sensation. And Ernie Els, 16-time PGA Tour champion.

Garcia, however, reached the Sweet 16.

"I guess I used my 'Get out of jail free card' today," he said.

Ask Garcia about his play now, and he smiles a bit. In eight previous years at the event, he never advanced any further than the third round, which begins today.

Since the tournament moved to Tucson in 2007, Garcia lost in the second round twice and, last year, in the first round.

He's sure he's played well enough in years past.

"I don't know," Garcia said. "I guess it's just a funny tournament, this match play, because some years you come here and you feel like you're playing unbelievably, and you lose in the first or second round.

"And some years you come here, and you don't feel quite as great and you manage to somehow get around it."

The No. 13 overall seed started poorly enough, watching Hansen won holes 2, 3 and 5.

"The good thing was," he said, "that I was three-down on 5, not three-down on 13 or 14."

It looked as if it would get worse.

On the 194-yard No. 6, Hansen hit his first shot 200 yards, just past the pin. Garcia teed off 185 yards into the rough.

From the right-hand side, Garcia chipped within 9 feet of the hole. Twenty-one feet away from the pin, however, Hansen sailed his shot past the pin and down the hill, leaving him about 29 feet away.

Garcia sunk his putt, Hansen didn't, and Garcia pulled within two.

"That kind of got me going a little bit," he said.

Garcia birdied the next hole.

On the par-5 No. 8, he sunk a 59-foot-5-inch chip from the fairway to record an eagle.

"Got back to all-square," he said. "It kind of lightened me up a little bit, so that was huge."

With the match knotted at 13, Garcia chipped from a bunker to within 6 feet of the pin for birdie to take a one-hole lead.

"From then onward, we were kinda hanging on as we could," he said.

Garcia nailed a 13-foot putt at No. 15 to keep Hansen from tying the match again, but the Spaniard didn't revel in his shots afterward.

"I need to get a lot better," Garcia said. "I need to get rid of some shots that I'm hitting out there."

Garcia said his balky right hand didn't bother him after he visited a specialist because of pain in December. It does have a bump on it.

"Fortunately for me," he said, "I'm not a hand model."

Garcia said the matches get tougher "as you get longer or deeper into the week."

His opponent today, Tim Clark, was more upbeat about his game after topping No. 4 overall seed Martin Kaymer 3 and 2, while playing an incandescent yellowish ball.

"I feel like my game right now is better than last week," Clark said. "I'm close to top form for me, which is really good."

Against Garcia, that momentum could be huge.

Or not.

As the Spaniard is learning, match play success is as much fortune as form.

"That's the good and the bad thing about it," Garcia said. "You're never going to win shooting 5 over par, but you could shoot a couple under par and win the match.

"And then somebody else can shoot 5 under par and lose 4 and 3.

"It's one of those weeks."

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