32° Good Morning
32° Good Morning

Sergio Garcia finds success playing by feel

Sergio Garcia lines up a putt on the

Sergio Garcia lines up a putt on the first hole during the second round of The Barclays at Bethpage State Park. Garcia finished the day tied for the lead. (Aug. 24, 2012) Credit: AP

Sergio Garcia fired his caddie after missing the cut at the PGA Championship two weeks ago. Garcia's fired a bunch of caddies during his career -- nothing new there.

But now he's trying something different. Instead of hiring another professional caddie for the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, N.C., last week, he instead picked up a local bag carrier, started walking off all his yardages and marking all the greens himself, and voilà, he won.

So now Garcia is here at Bethpage Black with a CBS golf spotter, Wayne Richardson, on his bag. And he's tied for the lead at the Barclays after Friday's second round.

"The only good thing I have about this is that I'm making my decisions, good and bad," Garcia said after shooting a 3-under-par 68 to tie Nick Watney for the halfway lead at 8 under. "When I have a professional caddie, obviously he tells me everything that I should know. Am I more committed to pretty much all my shots? Yes . . . But other than that you don't have to read more into it."

From the promise of his youth when he finished second to Tiger Woods in the 1999 PGA Championship to his victory last week in Greensboro, Garcia's career has been a twisty and sometimes bumpy cart path. He has by turns been brilliant and helpless, ebullient and morose, electric and depressed. But always exciting, and a fan favorite at Bethpage in the 2002 and 2009 U.S. Opens. In the 2002 Open, during his early years of endless waggles, he was heckled for not pulling the trigger fast enough. He solved that "tic" years ago, but never quite could solve his putting deficiencies to the extent that he could win a major, though he did score an impressive win at the 2008 Players Championship.

"Golf is a funny game," he said. "When you think you have it under control, it kicks you down, then all of a sudden it gives you something to love it again."

Without a professional caddie in his ear, Garcia is playing by feel. "I think my mistake is that sometimes I seem to trust more what I hear than what I feel," Garcia said. "We all know how much of a feel player I am, and I should kind of trust those feelings a bit more. These couple of weeks, they're kind of letting me do that, try to trust my own feelings a little bit more than sometimes if somebody tells me to do one thing and I just do it for lack of confidence in myself."

There has always been that element of the little boy in Garcia, 32. He was only 18 when he won the British Amateur, 19 when he was low amateur in the Masters, 19 when he finished second to Woods, 19 when he played in his first Ryder Cup.

During his Thursday round of 66, he mused with playing partner Adam Scott. "I was talking to Adam yesterday when I was doing my yardages and stuff," Garcia said. "It does feel like you're kind of back in your amateur days when you were doing all the things. But sometimes it's good to go back to the beginning and get a little feel for what you used to do."

New York Sports