Having won a lot of money for a lot of people with my “Why Bubba Watson Will Win The 2014 Masters” article, I thought it only fair I roll the dice again.
With no Tiger in the field at this year’s US Open, much of the attention has fallen on Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott and Rory McIlroy. But one man evading much of the attention is Sergio Garcia.
Here’s why I believe the Spaniard will win the 2014 US Open:
Since November last year, Sergio has played 12 events. Of those events, he has finished inside the top-4 in half of them, whilst picking up a win at the Commercialbank Qatar Masters. Whilst it was surprising he didn’t make the weekend at The Masters consider this: that was El Nino’s first missed cut since the 2012 PGA Championship. That was 95 weeks ago.
The world’s best players don’t play Pinehurst much. This is just the third time the US Open will be played at the No. 2, following the events in 1999 and 2005. Sergio didn’t play when Payne Stewart won in 1999, but finished 3rd in 2005 behind Michael Campbell and Tiger Woods.
He is the only player in the field this year who finished in the top-10 that week.
US Open Form
Whilst many think Sergio’s best major is The Open championship, numbers suggest otherwise. He has made the cut at the US Open in 12 of 14 appearances, finishing in the top-25 eight times and the top-10 four times. He has missed the cut at least four times at the other three majors.
When it comes to stats, Sergio is a machine. He’s ranking on the PGA Tour suggests he should be winning just about every week he tees it up. When it comes to the Pinehurst No. 2, these numbers suggest he’ll be hard to beat.
1st in Scoring Average (69.48)
2nd in Sand Save Percentage (63%)
2nd in GIR from other than the FW (61%)
5th in Scrambling (65%)
8th in Greens In Regulation (70%)
Everyone knows about the greens at Pinehurst. Payne Stewart hit just seven in the final round in 1999 and both he and Michael Campbell hit less than 60% of the greens during their victories. Clearly hitting the greens, and getting up-and-down when you miss them, is going to be key.
Sergio is the only player on the PGA Tour who ranks inside the top-10 in both greens in regulation and scrambling.
For years Sergio was known as a bad putter. Actually, he was known as a terrible putter. If majors were awarded tee to green, he’d be in the Hall of Fame already. Alas, he has chopped and changed his equipment, his grip and his mentality and has made some incredible gains in Strokes Gained Putting (the go-to putting metric on Tour). Here’s his ranks the last 10 years:
Currently, Sergio ranks 41st in Strokes Gained Putting for the 2014 season. With the hard, fast, undulating greens at Pinehurst, putting will be at a premium for whoever takes home the title on Sunday night.
With Pinehurst playing to a par of 70 this year, there will be two more par-4s than Tour players are used to. With 12 of the 18 holes playing as par-4s, Sergio should be pretty comfortable. No one scores better on the PGA Tour on par-4s than Garcia, with an average of 3.96.
We’ve all heard people say “a major doesn’t start until Sunday afternoon”. Typically the final round of a major makes or breaks a players chances to win. Whilst he may have a reputation as a choker, Sergio’s recent form suggests he would be more than able to seal the deal this time around.
His last 11 final rounds on Tour he has shot higher than 70 twice with an average score of 68.3. He currently ranks 2nd on the PGA Tour in final round scoring average.
Seriously, is he going to end his career without a major?
He has three runner-up finishes and has finished in the top-10 a further 15 times. Surely this is his time. With no Tiger in the field, on a course he likes, in good form and with all well in his personal life, will Sunday be the day Sergio joins the major ranks?
I think so.