Oct
27
2010
Who Are Golf’s Greatest Underachievers?
By Conor Nagle under European PGA Tour

Sergio smiling: we haven't seen much of this in recent years

Sergio Garcia returned to competitive golf at last week’s Castello Masters. Held at his home course outside Valencia, the tournament failed to produce the inspiring resurgence in competitive form the Spaniard had hoped for. Instead, he putted atrociously on his way to a missed cut. Two days of on-course apathy and post-round surliness, followed by a weekend of television coverage that couldn’t resist introducing the occasional shot of Casa Garcia’s draped windows as gloomy counterpoint to Manassero’s on-course activities, the week proved just another installment in golf’s grimmest psychodrama.

Of course, Sergio’s path to this stage of perpetual crisis has been a long and well-documented one. The qualities that have, on occasion, made him a genuinely exciting presence on the PGA Tour are the same ones that have, in the face of defeat, conspired only to provoke petulance and a nearly comical inability to accept personal responsibility (my personal favourite– awkward Jimmy Roberts, FTW!). Sergio is the PGA Tour’s tragic hero– a would-be conqueror undermined by a fatal flaw of character, his rickety putting stroke the barometer by which you can read his insecurity. It’s been a long, long fall from those first moments of nearly delirious promise way back in 1999.

Garcia’s failure to reignite his game last weekend coincided with another chronic underachiever’s reappearance. In an interview with Ryan Reiterman, Adam Scott announced his (tenth? eleventh, maybe?) re-dedication to the game:

Adam Scott: kissing costs extra.

“I feel really good. My game is in a much more comfortable place than it was about 12 months ago. I’ve had ten years at [sic] playing at the top level, and I’ve got a lot of experience. I’ve won some big tournaments. But now I think it’s time, with the direction my game is heading and that experience, I certainly feel I can put myself in position to win all the big stuff. It’s just a matter of working hard and doing it.”

As usual, the Aussie’s cheery outlook is tinged with a hint of ambivalence. Billed as a statement of intent, the actual interview reads more like a statement of maybe, you know, possibly, if things come together. Coming from a player who’s often been criticised for not wanting it enough, it wasn’t exactly cause for a dramatic reevaluation of the man’s character.

So, with these two slightly jaded thirty-year-olds in mind, I turn to you guys with the question: who are golf’s greatest underachievers? Monty, for his lack of major victories? What about Charles Howell III– the one-time future of American golf? Davis Love? Paula Creamer? And on the subject of Sergio and Scott– is there a brighter future in store for these poster boys of unfulfilled promise, or do they risk being pushed aside by a younger generation more at ease with competition and winning than they ever were?

–Conor