Garcia's getting on my nerves

Get on without it Sergio!

Bob Warters's picture
Tue, 8 Jan 2002
Garcia's getting on my nerves

Sergio Garcia may be the current form player in golf with his victory in the Mercedes Championship, which bumped him up to No.4 in the world...but he’s getting on my nerves.

Terrific personality and shot-maker that he is, I can’t bear to watch him waggle, re-grip, waggle, re-grip, squeeze, re-grip, re-grip, waggle for nearly half a minute before almost EVERY shot.

Garcia - influence on kids.

Only on the putting green does he take an orthodox amount of time before releasing the club at the ball. Everywhere else on the course he takes an age – and it’s got to the stage where I have to close my eyes or turn away.

I’ve found myself screaming at the TV screen "for God’s sake get on with it!"

His pre-shot, nervy routine is off-putting too for his fellow pros. US PGA champion David Toms preferred to look away during their playoff in Hawaii, while Mark Calcavecchia made his point with three waggles and a swish before firing his tee-shots alongside the young Spaniard. Colin Montgomerie has already had a word.

And it can’t be good for the future of the game, when youngsters and new adult golfers, see one of the world’s best players taking an interminable time getting comfortable over the ball before hitting it.

Despite pleas worldwide for golfers to speed up the game, Garcia – who regularly twitches for 20-30 seconds at address – is proving a bad influence.

Colin Montgomerie - had a word with Garcia.

In Montreal the French-Canadian gallery could be heard whispering "un, deux, trois…" during the Canadian Open, while the clubhouse at the Tour Championship in Houston, apparently echoed to players and officials counting aloud while watching him on TV.

While getting a little tetchy when the subject of his waggles is brought up, Garcia is unfazed, by what has become a running joke among spectators and his fellow Tour pros.

"It's just the way I feel comfortable," he says.

Nor does he think it's funny or is offering any apologies.

"I'm not going to hit a shot until I'm ready. If it takes me 100 re-grips, I'm going to take 100 re-grips. I don't care. I've hit it without being ready, and I've done it wrongly. It's the way I play."

He also told journalists at his winning press conference in Hawaii: "I don't say to you guys, 'You shouldn't grip the pen that way when you write. You shouldn't blink as many times when you're on your computer.' Everybody has their own way of doing things. I'm not going to tell you do something you don't like, so try not to do the same thing to me."

Mickelson - apologetic.

No one can argue with the results and after all Arnold Palmer hitches his trousers, Jack Nicklaus hovers over putts, Tiger Woods pumps his fist, Phil Mickelson almost apologises for making a birdie.

Sergio waggles.

Garcia, 22 tomorrow (Wednesday), says he has always re-gripped and waggled the club, but never this much. He says he can't remember when it started getting noticed, though many experts trace it back to the US Open at Southern Hills, where he nervily contended in the final round.

He says the reason he does it is to bide his time to get his head clear over a shot, instead of waiting for a feel or sensation in his hands.

"Sometimes you get bad thoughts," he says. "Without wanting to. You look at the trouble and say, 'Gee, I don't want to go there.' Don't think about it, just picture the shot you want, get ready, try to hit the best shot you can. As soon as I've got everything right in my mind, that's when I hit.

"I'm playing well and I'm winning. Maybe amateurs are starting to try it because it looks to me like it's working."

Nicklaus 'took his time.'
After all, he says, sternly: "No one said anything when Jack Nicklaus took his time over shots.

Garcia is starting to get a little niggled whenever the waggle is mentioned. Last year at the Canadian Open, he claimed Nicklaus took as much time as he does over shots.

"If he used to take a lot of time, it's not such a bad thing. So, think about that."

Toms says he tries not to watch.

"I tried to count once to see how many it was so I knew when he was going to hit it the next time. There's no rhyme or reason to it. Obviously, if he could help it, he wouldn't do it. It can't be any good for you. But everybody has their little things they do," says Toms. And he’s right.

I once got berated publicly by an irate Irishman in the clubhouse dining room for holding up a fourball of single-figure golfers desperate not to waste their post-round, two-hour winding down time in the bar.

But I learned my lesson to avoid further harranguing and got my pre-shot fiddling down to under eight seconds.

It also improved my golf but I doubt if a fast-track routine would make Garcia a better player.

So we’ll probably have to grin and bear it and be thankful he’s one of ours to be cherished.

Do Sergio's actions irritate you, too? Should he be put on the clock? Is he bad for the game? Or should we grin and bear it? Tell us on the Forum