By Josh Powell | U.S. Open betting
Sergio Garcia revealed this week that he put a handwritten note in Tiger Woods’ locker apologising for his ‘fried chicken’ jibe made at a European Tour dinner last month. Firmly sticking ‘racist slur’ in with spilling ink on someone’s bag and stealing their gel pen as things that can be sorted with a note in the locker. Well played Sergio.
The two players don’t brush over the fact they don’t like each other and Garcia’s comments will have guaranteed him a difficult reception at the US Open. If the Yank crowd weren’t annoying enough Sergio Garcia will have to deal with plenty of boos on the tee as well as those ridiculous ‘Get in the hole’ shouts. Cop on now, the lad is on a 628-yard par five.
Chicken-gate got very boring in no time at all and a brief handshake on the driving range this week appears to have brushed any obvious grievances aside, as the golfers concentrate on the sport’s second Major of the year. This spat didn’t lend itself to any school-yard fisticuffs however we’ve put them through a 12 round US Open bout to find out who’ll come out on top.
US Open form
Tiger Woods has won the US Open three times, in 2000, 2002 and 2008, and has another five top 10 finishes to his name. In the 17 US Opens that Tiger has competed in he has finished in the top 20 76 per cent of the time and missed the cut just once, back in 2006. Sergio has two missed cuts in 13 appearances but can point to four top ten finishes. Woods hasn’t put Sergio down in round one but he’s a clear winner.
A cagey second round in the ring with neither golfer playing the Merion Golf course before. It isn’t a well-used location and only a handful of players in this year’s US Open have had any sort of experience on the course at an amateur level. The judges can’t separate them.
Sergio is yet to win a tournament in 2013 but he has finished in the top 20 in 11 of the 12 competitions he’s played, the only blemish on his record is pulling out of the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March. Tiger has won four tournaments this year and finished in the places in the US Masters. It’s a solid round for Sergio and Woods is on the ropes after a missed cut in the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship and a 65th finish in the Memorial at the start of this month. The four tournament victories are haymakers though.
There’s only one winner in this round and that’s Tiger. He has won 14 Majors and is hot on the heels of breaking Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18. Sergio Garcia has 18 top 10 Major finishes in his career but is still to break the duck. It’s been five years since Woods last won a Major but in a career spanning 18 years and 67 Majors, 69 per cent of the time Tiger has finished in the top 20.
The forecast for the opening two days is for an ‘Irish Summer’, or more specifically rain with wind speeds of between 15-20 mph. Sergio has played in these conditions six times and fared quite well, improving his position by an average of eight places. Woods has played just three tournaments with this kind of wind and rain and it hasn’t really affected him, dropping, on average just one place. Round one of the 2009 US Open was played in similar conditions and Woods posted a score of 74 with Sergio shooting a round of 70.
Sergio Garcia hasn’t played in Pennsylvania in the last five years and Tiger has made just the one appearance here in the same time. That was the 2010 AT&T National where he finished 46th on four-over par. Not a lot to go on but, although Tiger didn’t perform too well on his sole appearance here, the experience of at least playing in the Keystone State gives him the advantage in round six of this bout.
The Merion Golf Club has tight, narrow fairways and the chances of you putting your back out trying to hack out of the rough is high. The key to success in the US Open this year is accuracy off the tee and Sergio leads Tiger in this round. The Spaniard has a 62.23 per cent accuracy record off the tee in 2013 compared to Tiger’s 58.48 per cent record. In last year’s US Open both players were ranked sixth off the tee with a 58.9 per cent success rate of finding the fairway.
Greens in regulation
If you want to win Majors you have to get on the dance floor. Pretty sure that sounds like something Nick Faldo once mumbled in the corner of a bar during the PGA Christmas party. Sergio Garcia is continuing the come-back in round eight with a 70.75 per cent success rate this year. He is consistently at the top end of the rankings for greens in regulation in 2013 and is clear of Tiger who has a 65.63 per cent success rate.
Plenty of golfers will end up in trouble on the Merion Course and scrambling to save par is going to be a big part of the tournament. There is very little separating Garcia and Woods in this round but Sergio just nicks it. He has a 60.22 per cent success rate of saving par when he’s scrambling compared to Woods’ rate of 59.40. It isn’t much but the round goes to Sergio at the bell due to Woods’ 40.7 per cent scrambling success rate at the Memorial Tournament less than two weeks ago.
When it comes to putting the ball in the hole Tiger is red-hot and this year is no exception. He has been ranked the number one putter in three tournaments in 2013 and makes an average of 1.69 putts per hole. Sergio makes an average of 1.76 putts and, although it doesn’t sound much, 72 holes later Woods will have taken five putts less and that could be the difference on the leaderboard.
Woods and Garcia haven’t been paired together for Thursday and Friday but that doesn’t mean they won’t be playing partners at the business end of the tournament. If it comes to it Tiger has the advantage, winning eight of the 12 rounds the two rivals have played together, drawing on three occasions. Garcia has beaten Tiger just once when they have been paired together back in the 2006 Buick Invitational.
Tiger Woods comes out swinging in the final round of the bout and is a convincing winner. Garcia’s most notable ex-girlfriend was former world number one Martina Hingis but Woods is the clear victor with Swedish model Elin Nordegren, current partner downhill skier Lindsey Vonn, and everyone else in-between.
Result: Tiger Woods 7-4 Sergio Garcia
It is a clear win for the 6/1 tournament favourite Tiger Woods. No spats containing slightly racist undertones can derail the 14-time Major winner. Sergio Garcia might have had a better year getting from tee to green, but when it comes to putting the ball in the hole on the big stage in the US Open, Woods is your man.