By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- He made the 18th hole harder than he'd hoped but Sergio Garcia still managed to gut out a bogey that gave him a two-stroke win at the Wyndham Championship.
The victory was Garcia's first on the PGA TOUR since the 2008 PLAYERS Championship. He finished 18 under after shooting a final-round 66 and beat Tim Clark by two strokes and Bud Cauley by three.
Garcia now heads to Bethpage Black for The Barclays with momentum, ranked 33rd in the FedExCup, a jump of 69 spots. The Barclays, which begins Thursday, is the first of four events in the FedExCup Playoffs that will decided the season-long champion and winner of the $10 million bonus.
“I am proud of the way I played coming in,” said Garcia, who had four birdies in a five-hole stretch starting at the 13th hole on Monday. “Hopefully this will secure my spot in the Ryder Cup.”
With the win, Garcia appears to have moved well into the automatic qualifiers for the European team with one week remaining. The matches will be held at Medinah Country Club where a 19-year-old Garcia finished second to Tiger Woods at the 1999 PGA Championship.
Garcia won’t be able to earn any Ryder Cup points at The Barclays but even should he fall out, the Spaniard appears to be a lock for one of Jose Maria Olazabal’s Captain’s Picks. Garcia has played on five of the last six European teams, missing only 2010 when he was named a vice captain.
As far as the Playoffs are concerned, only one player managed to move into the top 125 and earn a spot at The Barclays. That was Heath Slocum, who moved from No. 128 to 124th with his tie for 31st – making Jhonattan Vegas the odd man out.
In 2009, Slocum missed the cut in Greensboro but managed to remain at No. 124 – with two points to spare. He ended up going out and winning The Barclays the following week and placed eighth in the FedExCup overall.
“I think that what I did last time kind of frees you up,” Slocum said. “You really have nothing to lose. That was the best thing I did in '09. I remember I went into that week just completely free, no expectations. I just went and played golf. I got in my own way.
“Kind of the same situation I've gotten myself into this year to get to this point. It's a lesson to be learned from. If I can execute, obviously a W would be fantastic but at this point, I'm just trying to kind of get things better on track and kind of get to playing the golf that I've been playing in my career and that I expect from myself.”