The pressure that surrounds being paired with Tiger Woods engulfed Sergio Garcia at the U.S. Open. Matched with Woods in the final grouping at Bethpage in June, Garcia bogeyed four of the first 12 holes and saw his opportunity to win his first major disappear.
It's not that Woods was having a spectacular day. Woods, who started the day ahead of the pack by four strokes, closed out the tournament with a 2-over 72, but still more than enough to hold off any challengers, especially Garcia, who fired a 74 on Sunday to finish six strokes behind Woods.
By now, Garcia -- as well as the rest of the golfing world -- knows what to expect when they are in a duel with Woods for a title. Only the winds of Scotland seem to have a good shot.
Garcia did win a foursome match with Jesper Parnevik against Woods and Tom Lehman at the 1999 Ryder Cup, but outside of that, Woods has been dominant in their brief rivalry. In his brief professional career, Garcia has won just three PGA Tour events. During that same period, Garcia has been in the field when Woods has collected 16 winner's checks.
Prior to Bethpage, their most famous matchup was at the 1999 PGA Championship at Medinah. Back then, Woods had just one major to his credit, while Garcia was just a 19-year-old breaking onto the scene.
Woods started the final round in the final pairing with Mike Weir, one group behind Garcia. A birdie on No. 2 gave Woods the lead, and he built it to five strokes by No. 11. But then the chants of "SER-GI-O!" starting ringing around Illinois. When Woods bogeyed 12 and double bogeyed 13 to go with El Nino's birdie on 13, the lead was all of a sudden only one stroke with five holes to go. The two youngsters had the golf world buzzing. Sure, when Woods saved par on the par-3 17th, Garcia's shot at Woods was over at Menidah, but it offered promise to a budding rivalry.
So far, that rivalry has been as one-sided as the Yankees-Red Sox. But with the Ryder Cup just a couple of months away, Garcia can take another step towards evening it this Monday night in the Lincoln Financial Group Battle at Bighorn (ABC, 8 p.m. ET).