Sergio Garcia and the Biggest Time Wasters/Attention Seekers in Golf

Michael DixonAnalyst IIIMay 31, 2011

Sergio Garcia and the Biggest Time Wasters/Attention Seekers in Golf

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    FT. WORTH, TX - MAY 19: Sergio Garcia of Spain hits his second shot on the ninth hole during the first round of the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial Country Club on May 19, 2011 in Ft. Worth, Texas. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
    Hunter Martin/Getty Images

    What does it mean to be a time waster in a sport?

    Well, the simple answer is that it's eerily similar to being overrated, or over hyped.

    The only difference is that when someone is overrated or over hyped, that is usually figured out pretty quickly.

    Being a time waster is another step.  To be a time waster, you need to find a way to keep the attention on you no matter how good or how poorly you're performing.  Also, the attention paid to you shouldn't have much to do with any recent accomplishments.

    For example, Ryan Leaf was overrated when he first got drafted. We didn't necessarily know how overrated he was, but he was quickly exposed.  Eventually, his poor performances stopped getting the attention.  Then, we looked at his locker room antics . On the field, he wasn't relevant.

    That doesn't matter to a really good time waster, which Leaf was.

    Golf doesn't have quite as many as other sports.  The reason is that being an individual sport, you can't blame anyone else for your failures and nobody can really take a lot of credit for your success.

    So there isn't anyone out there just riding the coattails of more talented players.  Also, there isn't anyone out there who people could say "Just imagine how good this guy would be if he had some talent around him."

    You either succeed or you don't.

    Still, golf does have its participants who find ways to waste everyone's time.

    Anyone associated with professional golf qualifies for this list.  They don't necessarily have to be a player, but I don't want to hear about the loudmouth at anyone's club.

    Also, in this case, being a time-waster is mostly devoted to wasting time and energy away from your round. This is not listing the slowest golfers in the world, who can waste time, but in a different way.

    Fortunately, this list is not longer.

7. Rory Sabbatini

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    FORT WORTH, TX - MAY 22: Rory Sabbatini hits his tee shot on the third hole during the final round of the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial Country Club on May 22, 2011 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
    Hunter Martin/Getty Images

    Rory Sabbatini always finds a way to put himself near the center of attention.

    Unfortunately, it's rarely because of anything he does on the golf course.  Even his win this year has been overshadowed by confrontations with fellow players and fans. 

    In 2005, he faced a lot of criticism for jumping ahead of playing partner Ben Crane.  While I don't think he handled it well, I actually don't find much fault in the way that situation was handled.

    By his own admission, Crane is one of the slowest golfers on Tour, while Sabbatini is one of the fastest.  The pair had already been warned about slow play and they were falling behind again.  Another warning would have resulted in a penalty to both Crane and Sabbatini.

    So Sabbatini jumping ahead was just a way of trying to speed the pace up and avoid a penalty, which he did.

    But that's not where the story ends.  In 2007, he said that Tiger Woods was more beatable than ever.  Mind you, this came after he had blown a final round lead to Woods.

    Later in the year, Sabbatini had a fan who had heckled him about Woods ejected.  Finally, in December of 2007, he became the first golfer to ever withdraw from the Target World Challenge, put on by Tiger Woods.

    We've seen throughout his career, when golfers criticize Tiger Woods or compare themselves to him, it generally doesn't end up well.  This has changed a little in recent years, but it's not a recipe for success.

    For the record, Sabbatini has only one career top-10 performance in a major.  That didn't stop him from finding the time to call one of the best golfers of all-time beatable.

    On their own, any of these things don't make Sabbatini a time-waster.  But time and time again, this guy gets attention for things not related to what he does on the course.

    He's never been anything more than a good, journeyman player.  There is nothing wrong with that, but it's not worthy of the attention that he seems to crave.

6. Michelle Wie

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    GLADSTONE, NJ - MAY 21:  Michelle Wie hits her tee shot on the 17th hole in round three of the Sybase Match Play Championship at Hamilton Farm Golf Club on May 21, 2011 in Gladstone, New Jersey.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    A few years ago, Michelle Wie would have been number one on this list by a long shot.  A few years from now, she probably won't be on it at all, so she's trending in a good direction.

    Some of the novelty has worn off.  It began to wear off when she stopped playing in men's events.  Since then, she has actually won an LPGA Tour event, something she hadn't done when she was competing with men.

    I actually don't fault Wie as much as I fault the people that handled her.  She was way too young to be making any of those decisions herself.

    Still, her presence generated a lot of attention that was just not deserved.  When Annika Sorenstam played in a men's event in 2003, she was the undisputed best women's golfer in the world and seemed to win whenever she competed with women, it wasn't a too big of a leap and it was a one-time deal.

    Wie was competing with men before she ever won an LPGA event.  Despite consistently not making cuts in men's events and struggling in women's events, she was hyped as someone who could play with the men, and that hype was very slow to die.

    As she's grown older, she hasn't played in those events and has done better against women.  Her career finally seems to be on the right track.

5. Armchair Referees

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    7 Aug 1995:  Craig Stadler at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego, California. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Dunn  /Allsport
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    I've previously said that I wouldn't mind seeing referees in golf, similar to what we see in team sports.

    That's only partially true.  Honestly, I like the way that golfers police themselves.

    What I don't like is people calling in rules violations that they see.  That's what needs to stop and if the only way to do that is to give the tours referees, so be it.

    The penalties are usually for very trivial reasons.  While there is no room for "spirit of the rule" in golf, the majority of these violations have little or nothing to do with why they were written.  But that's not the real problem.

    Even if these rules are going to continue to be enforced, what really needs to end is viewers calling in rules violations on players.

    More than 20 years have passed and we still talk about what happened to Craig Stadler at Torrey Pines.

    Not only do these people waste our time in debates as to whether or not these violations should have been called, they waste their own time.

    Sometimes it seems like these people only watch golf so that they can call these rules violations in.  If watching a three-hour broadcast just for the chance that someone may break a rule that you can call in isn't wasting time, what is?

4. Johnny Miller

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    ORLANDO, FL - MARCH 26:  NBC golf analyst Johnny Miller watches the action during the third round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard at the Bay Hill Club and Lodge on March 26, 2011 in Orlando, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Gett
    Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    Whether a broadcaster's style works is a judgment that the individual viewer (or listener) needs to make.

    It seems as though Miller has spent the majority of his broadcasting career taking backhanded compliments (at best) at the players that he is covering.

    If this isn't a backhanded compliment, please tell me what is.

    Why is this a waste of time for us?

    Well, the criticisms seem to hit every golfer.  As viewers, how can we take his critiques seriously when they seem to be directed towards every golfer?

    If Miller isn't pointing out a swing glitch, he's talking about how a golfer is choking under pressure.

    If NBC is covering a tournament where a contending player hasn't won a lot, Miller will mention that at every opportunity.  "That's why golfer A only has one win." Seemingly any shot that isn't perfect will draw that remark.

    Calling something how you see it is fine.  After all, it's what Miller gets paid to do.  The difference with Miller is that he seems to look to be negative, which isn't any better than sugarcoating things.

3. Tiger Woods: Thanksgiving 2009-Present

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    PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL - MAY 12:  Tiger Woods reacts to his approach shot on the ninth hole during the first round of THE PLAYERS Championship held at THE PLAYERS Stadium course at TPC Sawgrass on May 12, 2011 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. Woods withdrew
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Tiger Woods is in a World Rankings free fall right now.

    He's basically as low as he's ever been since he's been a pro and if he doesn't figure something out soon, it will only get worse.

    Still, even in some weeks where he isn't playing, he gets the bulk of media attention.

    Whether it's talking about his knee, announcing that he will or won't play in a future tournament, or responding to someone else being critical of him, Tiger is the golfer that the cameras flock to.

    Opinions vary on Tiger, but everyone has one.

    Right now, basically any attention that he gets is a waste of time. He just isn't performing at a level worthy of that attention.  Personally, I hope this changes, because I really want Tiger to get back to the top but right now, it's just not happening.

    Maybe he'll win the US Open.  Maybe he'll win something else this year.  But until he wins something, the attention he gets is a waste of time.  Just don't expect it to change any time soon.

2. Sergio Garcia

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - MAY 07:  Sergio Garcia hits his tee shot on the third hole during the third round of the Wells Fargo Championship at the Quail Hollow Club on May 7, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    When Tiger Woods won the 1997 Masters in record fashion, he validated a lot of the hype that he received.

    Almost as soon as that final putt dropped, the golf world began looking for a rival, for the next Tiger.

    Tiger wouldn't win another major until the 1999 PGA Championship.  There, something happened to him that had never happened before and hasn't happened since, certainly not in a win.  He was upstaged.

    With this shot and reaction, Sergio Garcia stole the show.  Woods held him off to win the tournament, but that shot will always be what we remember.

    From there, he won once in Europe a few months later, but didn't win anything else in the US or Europe until 2001.

    To this day, he hasn't won any majors.  Although he has played relatively well this year, Garcia is not the star now that he once was and he's always been overrated.

    In addition to winning the 2008 Players Championship, he has notched top-five performances at every major at least once in his career.  Also, although he's been around for a while, he's only 31 years old, which is not old at all for golf standards.

    But not only has Garcia not been "The next Tiger," he's never been close.  The shot at the 1999 PGA is unforgettable, but it's one of the only positive golf related memories that comes to mind with Garcia.

    It's hard to forget him blaming everyone under the sun for his loss in the 2007 British Open. It's hard to forget about him whining about getting a mud-ball at the Masters. I know, it's frustrating to hit a drive down the fairway only to find it covered in mud, but it happens to everyone.

    If that doesn't hook you, what about the 2002 US Open? That's where he said that Tiger got preferential treatment from the USGA.

    It's been a consistent stream with him. Being overrated isn't all his fault, everyone was in such a hurry to find a rival to Tiger, and Sergio seemed like the right guy.

    But for all of the hype and attention he received over the years, what has he accomplished?

    His career hasn't been bad, just not worthy of the attention he receives. While 31 isn't old, he's not a baby anymore and he's now played more majors without winning than Phil Mickelson did before he broke through.

    Some of this is starting to fade, as his performance has dropped a lot over the last few years. Notably, in 2010, he didn't qualify for the European Ryder Cup team.

    Still, he's one of the best known golfers in the world. When he talks, people listen and form an opinion, positive or negative. Is he worthy of that?

1. John Daly

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    PALM HARBOR, FL - MARCH 17:  John Daly plays a shot on the 9th hole during the first round of the Transitions Championship at Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club on March 17, 2011 in Palm Harbor, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
    Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    Even though he's not performing, Tiger Woods gets a lot of media attention now.  At least he's won in the past, as he is undeniably one of the best golfers of all time.

    The attention Sergio Garcia gets is a waste of time, but he has shown a lot of promise and has done so as recently as 2008.

    John Daly hasn't won a tournament, any tournament, since 2004.  He hasn't won a major since 1995.  A lot of attention gets focused on him trying to come back but at his age (45) and lack of recent good performances, it just isn't likely.

    Daly has always drawn attention for the wrong reasons.  The divorces, the arrests, the drinking, etc.  I am not judging his life choices, but there isn't anyone to blame for his troubles other than himself.

    Any one thing can be a misunderstanding or the other person's fault.  But there is only one common denominator in all of Daly's problems.

    Still.  If Daly is in a tournament he gets the bulk of the attention, especially if Tiger or Phil Mickelson are not playing.

    He just isn't worth it.  I don't want to overlook the positives, notably the big financial donations to very worthy causes, I just don't want to overrate them.

    I also don't think we should overlook his popularity.  He says that he does a lot for his fans, which is admirable, but how many times has he walked away from a tournament in the middle of a round, was he doing that for the fans?

    Others on this list receive a lot of attention that they don't deserve. But when it comes to the biggest time-waster in golf, Daly is a landslide number one.