No worry about Woods-yet
Published: Thursday, January 9, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 9, 2003 at 1:17 a.m.
KAPALUA, Hawaii - Sergio Garcia's goals remain the same, no matter how lofty they seem. He wants to win major championships and become the first player with money titles on both sides of the Atlantic.
That means beating Tiger Woods, which might be the loftiest goal of all.
"I think he's a great player. He's probably going to be one of the best players ever," Garcia said. "Hopefully, I'll try to make that not possible."
Garcia won't have to worry about Woods for a while.
When the PGA Tour season starts today at the winners-only Mercedes Championships, Woods will be home in Florida rehabilitating his left knee from surgery that will keep him out for at least the first five tournaments.
That doesn't matter to Garcia, the defending champion at Kapalua. There are plenty of other tough players in the field, even if the Spaniard doesn't recognize many of them.
Woods is out. Phil Mickelson, No. 2 in the world, is taking time off. David Duval, David Toms and Davis Love III didn't qualify because they didn't win last season.
In their place are 18 first-time winners, which constitutes half of the Mercedes field. The turnover was so great that only eight of this year's entrants were at Kapalua in 2002.
Whoever they are, they will be chasing a $1 million prize, the first of 12 tournaments that pays at least $1 million to the winner under the new four-year television contract.
And at some point this year, they probably will be chasing Woods.
"I just hope he takes his time getting better," Charles Howell III said.
Garcia has been nipping at Woods' heels ever since he stole the show - and almost the trophy - from Woods in the 1999 PGA Championship.
Their battles have been rare, but entertaining.
Garcia doesn't pay homage to Woods like some players. He doesn't think it's a lock that Woods will win a record fifth straight money title. Garcia sees no reason why he can't replace Woods as No. 1 in the world.
"I know what I've got to do," said Garcia, who turns 23 today. "I know what my goals are, what I want to achieve."
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