Love: Garcia helps find diamond in the rough

Sergio Garcia had an interesting fan experience last week en route to a second-place finish at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational held in Akron, Ohio.

The Spaniard’s errant tee shot on the third hole during Sunday’s final round hit the hand of a female fan standing in the nearby gallery. The ball actually struck the woman’s ring, dislodging a large diamond, which then became lost in the rough.

“Obviously, it didn’t feel very good, you never like to hit anybody,” Garcia said. “But if you hit someone and make her lose her diamond ring, it feels even worse.”

Garcia spent a bit of time on his own hands and knees helping to search for the lost diamond before having to resume play. Prior to leaving the young lady, though, a concerned Garcia offered to buy the fan a replacement if the diamond was not found.

It was a nice, sincere gesture from Garcia, who has been playing some of the best golf of his career as of late. In the end, the offer was all for naught, as the diamond was eventually found after a lengthy search.

That was the silver lining to Garcia blowing his Sunday lead and losing to Rory McIlroy.

Watson angers

Fan-favorite Bubba Watson isn’t afraid to speak his mind, but his actions earlier this week certainly did not endear him to many golf fans.

As part of the festivities during Tuesday’s practice round at the PGA Championship, the tournament conducted a long-drive contest at the club’s 10th hole.

The contest benefited various charities, and the only requirement of the players was to hit their normal tee shot, which would then be measured as part of the contest.

For some reason, a churlish Watson arrived at the hole and quickly pulled out his 3-iron, hitting before his name was even announced. Shortly after, he stated that he would be hitting his driver there for all four rounds of the actual tournament.

For some reason, Watson was annoyed that such a fan-friendly exhibition would be included during the practice round of a major championship – and he purposely hit an iron to deny fans, and tournament officials, of his participation.

Like many, I’ve grown to be been a big Watson fan in recent years. I’ve rooted for him heartily as he’s collected two Masters titles in the past three years. Watson’s actions earlier this week, though, earned him a definite double-bogey.

Best-ball events

As the area best-ball tournaments have wound down, two major themes have developed.

The first was Artie Fink Jr.’s dominance in the month of June – winning four of the area’s tournaments with various partners. He and Todd Homan were also declared co-champions with Bernie DiLoreto and Jordan Kirsch during the Iron Masters Classic, held in late July.

The second theme was the emergence of Chris Perry and Mike Macionsky as a force to be reckoned with locally. The young duo won the prestigious Park Hills Classic in mid-July and capped off their summer two-ball performances with a dominant 18-under par winning score at Summit Country Club last weekend.

The two young men have not only developed fine golf games, they also conduct themselves as true gentlemen on the course – in a way that definitely belies their age.

It will be fun to see what they can accomplish in the upcoming years.

Perry will be competing in the Park Hills club championship this weekend, while Macionsky will vie for the Scotch Valley crown next weekend.

Touch of Scotch

An interesting new area event will be held next month at Scotch Valley Country Club near Hollidaysburg.

The weekend of Sept. 13-14 will see Scotch Valley host an invitational two-ball event conducted at match play.

Area golfers are invited to participate in the tournament which will group teams into flights of eight teams. After Saturday’s play, the winner’s brackets and beaten-eights will both play Sunday morning, with the final matches taking place that same afternoon.

Interested participants should contact the Scotch Valley Pro Shop at 695-1478.

Ken Love covers local golf for the Mirror. His column runs on Friday.