Kim-Garcia Sunday highlights
Sept. 21: Anthony Kim shocked Sergio Garcia 5 & 4 to give the Americans Sunday's first point in singles action.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - From the moment Anthony Kim stepped on the first green and saw two golf balls within 2 feet of the cup, he made it clear he wasn’t going to give Sergio Garcia anything Sunday in the Ryder Cup.
“Good, good?” Garcia ask, suggesting they concede the birdies.
“Let’s putt them,” Kim replied.
Garcia rapped in his short birdie, and as he plucked his ball from the cup, picked up Kim’s coin.
That set the tone for a testy opening match at Valhalla in which the only thing Kim gave Garcia was his worst loss in the Ryder Cup. Kim rarely conceded any putt and closed out Garcia with an 8-foot par on the 14th to win, 5 and 4.
“Sergio and I are good friends and I have a tremendous amount of respect for him,” Kim said. “He’s a great player and a great guy. But out there, we’re out there to do business, and we battled all day. And now we can start being friends again.”
It was an intriguing pairing between two of the best young players in golf: Garcia, the 28-year-old Spaniard who won The Players Championship and Kim, a 23-year-old from Los Angeles who won the Wachovia Championship and AT&T National.
They played the first two rounds of the PGA Championship and appeared to enjoy their time together. Kim, however, made it clear that he wanted a shot at Europe’s best Ryder Cup player and was disappointed when he and Phil Mickelson didn’t get Garcia and Lee Westwood in the opening match Friday.
Kim got his wish Sunday, and played like it.
He birdied the second hole from 3 feet to take the lead, then Garcia returned the silence on No. 4. The Spaniard pitched up to 2 feet, and Kim conceded the putt. Kim then pitched up to 2½ feet and was forced to putt. Garcia walked to the back of the green and turned his back on Kim, walking off when he heard the cheer.
It got even testier on the sixth when Garcia’s tee shot tumbled off the fairway into grass so thick that it eventually was found by European vice captain Jose Maria Olazabal, and not until Garcia finished his 280-yard walk from the tee.
Garcia could barely see the ball, but he asked rules official John Paramor for relief because to play back to the fairway, his left heel would be touching the cement stairs.
Kim was skeptical.
First, he asked Paramor that if Garcia got a drop to play back to the fairway, if he then would be allowed to play over the creek and toward the green. Then, he questioned the relief.
“Is it a normal stance when your foot goes behind you?” he asked.
He shook his head and said to Paramor, “You’ve gotta to what you gotta do,” then walked down the stairs.
Then, Garcia hit into the water again.
The Spaniard walked toward the green. Kim stood over his chip, not sure what to do as he looked back at Garcia walking up the fairway. Paramor finally asked Garcia if he was conceding the hole and Garcia smiled, shrugging his shoulders as if to say, “What else can I do.”
As they walked off the eighth tee, Garcia asked Paramor why he would ask such a thing.
“You could have said you were walking up to identify your ball,” Paramor replied.
Garcia had a 5-foot birdie putt on the par-3 eighth with his best chance to win a hole. Kim was in the bunker, and blasted out to 6 feet. Kim made his par, Garcia missed, and the match was headed to an early conclusion.
Garcia lagged a long putt on the 11th hole to just inside 3 feet and looked toward Kim, but the American again refused to concede. And this time, Garcia missed to fall even further behind.
Kim was so excited with his par putt on the 14th that he didn’t realize he had won the match.
Garcia, virtually unbeatable in team play, fell to 1-4-0 in singles. His only victory came against Phil Mickelson in 2004. This was the first time in his five Ryder Cups that he failed to win a match.
“It was a hard day because I played against a guy that played awesome,” Garcia said. “It’s hard when you’re in those kind of situations, but unfortunately I just couldn’t get anything right today.”
Big win for Kim
Sept. 21: Anthony Kim wanted to play in the first match for the U.S., and he delivered the team's first point on Sunday.
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