<
>

A closer look at DiMarco, Els and Garcia

As exhilarating as the British Open was for eventual champion Tiger Woods, it was just as disappointing for the other contenders, namely Chris DiMarco, Ernie Els and Sergio Garcia.

What should we make of these players' chances in future majors? Will each find major victory? Any of them? This week's edition of Fact or Fiction explores.

• Chris DiMarco will win a major someday.

Bob Harig, contributor, ESPN.com: FICTION. Coming close guarantees nothing. Just ask Colin Montgomerie, who has been a far more prolific winner in his career. DiMarco has been runner-up three times in majors, twice in playoffs. But he has not won a PGA Tour event in more than four years.

Ron Sirak, executive editor, Golf World: FACT. He puts himself into contention so often that eventually he will close the deal -- perhaps the next time Tiger misses the cut.

Jason Sobel, golf editor, ESPN.com: FICTION. Rapidly approaching his 38th birthday, DiMarco has only so many chances left. Unfortunately for him, he's playing in the Tiger Woods Era or he'd have a green jacket and a Claret Jug to his name already. Instead, he's just a gritty, competitive dude ... who hasn't won a PGA Tour event in four years.

Brian Wacker, associate editor, GolfDigest.com: FICTION. He has knocked on the door enough times and proved he might be the only top player mentally capable of going toe-to-toe with Tiger down the stretch of a major, but win one? I don't think so. DiMarco is one of those players who wears his heart on his sleeve, but remember, this guy hasn't won a tournament since the 2002 Phoenix Open.

• Ernie Els will win another major.

Sobel: FACT. Had Els been able to hit any wedge shots onto the Hoylake greens, he might have given Woods a run for his money at the Open. No player -- Tiger included -- looks more confident standing over 10- and 15-foot putts than Els. It's that kind of short game that will earn him a fourth -- and maybe fifth or sixth -- major before it's all said and done. He'll get that elusive green jacket, too.

Sirak: FICTION. The Big Easy seems to be easing out the door. Three majors and somehow it still feels as though he underachieved.

Wacker: FACT. You wonder whether sometimes the Big Easy takes it too easy. Then again, maybe that's the secret to his success. Either way, Els is way too talented not to win another major. He's not even close to playing his best golf right now and, even if he was never a serious threat at Royal Liverpool, still finished third at the British Open. He'll win at least another one, if not more, before he's done.

Harig: FACT. He admitted last week that his surgically repaired knee was more of a problem than he originally let on, but Els is still plenty young enough to have many more chances.

• Sergio Garcia will win a major before he's 30.

Wacker: FICTION. The way Garcia plays final rounds, he might not ever win a major championship. He's still only 26, and we have to remember that, but it's a legit question right now that's being asked by a lot of people. Of course, it also looked as though Phil Mickelson might never win the big one, either. Right now, though, you'd have to say no.

Sirak: FICTION. How can someone with such wonderful touch around the green be so stone-handed on it? No major for El Nino until he gets that putting fixed.

Sobel: FACT. Sound crazy after the final-round meltdown in the presence of Woods? Maybe it is, but the fact remains: Garcia is one of the most talented players in the world from tee to green. Sure, he putts like a kid who doesn't want to lose his ball on the final hole at mini-golf, but it's just one aspect of the sport; his entire game doesn't need an overhaul. Once he figures out the flat stick, he'll win one of these things.

Harig: FICTION. Not if he doesn't improve as a putter. Garcia is a phenomenal ball striker, as he showed again during the third round of the British Open. But if you keep missing putts, you start to put pressure on the rest of your game. Garcia needs to figure that out.

Subscribe to:

Golf Digest