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NORTHERN TRUST OPEN NOTES

Sergio Garcia starts strong in final round of Northern Trust Open

The golfer, who entered the day tied for 49th place, starts on the 10th hole and eagles the 11th and 15th holes and birdies the 16th. Garcia finishes tied for fourth.

February 19, 2012|By Diane Pucin
  • Sergio Garcia reacts to a missed birdie putt at No. 12 on Friday during the second round of the Northern Trust Open.
Sergio Garcia reacts to a missed birdie putt at No. 12 on Friday during the… (Harry How / Getty Images )

Sergio Garcia started the final round of the Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club on the 10th hole because he was far behind the leaders, tied for 49th place.

Then Garcia eagled the par-five 11th hole.

"I hit a great second shot on 11," he said. "It bounced just in the fringe and landed softly and made eagle there."

Garcia eagled the par-four 15th hole as well and birdied the par-three 16th, and he said he knew he had something special going.

The 32-year-old Spaniard shot a 30 on the back nine and was seven under for the day.

He had begun the third round tied nine shots behind co-leaders Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley. He finished tied for fourth after a closing 64, the lowest round of the day by three shots.

Garcia said he never quite had a feeling he could win the tournament.

"Everything had to be absolutely perfect for me," he said. "I couldn't make any bogeys."

Despite a second-round of five-over 76 after which Garcia barely sneaked into the third round — he was one shot ahead of the cut line — he said he took from this performance a sense of momentum going into the PGA Tour's next event, the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship near Tucson.

"Match play is funny," Garcia said. "I might go out, shoot five under par and get beaten … but this is good momentum for me and I'm hoping I can take it into next week."

Bad wedding planner

Bill Haas can afford to buy a very nice wedding gift for a friend. Haas, who won $1,188,000 for taking the title Sunday in a three-way playoff against Mickelson and Bradley, said he missed the Sunday wedding of Jon Hopson, who was a volunteer assistant coach at Wake Forest when Haas played there in college.

"He got married just a few hours ago," Haas said. "I was really meaning to go, but this is a tournament that I have a hard time skipping.

"But I think he understands. Hopefully his day is even better than mine. It's pretty sweet for both of us today."

Americans rule

There have been seven PGA Tour events this season, and U.S. golfers have won them all.

The last time the U.S. had such a season-opening winning streak was in 2001. The winners so far: Steve Stricker, Johnson Wagner, Mark Wilson, Brandt Snedeker, Kyle Stanley, Mickelson and Haas.

Etc.

The hole that played toughest over the four rounds at Riviera was the 15th hole, which had a stroke average was 4.311. The easiest? The par-five first hole, where it took an average of 4.373 strokes. … The cumulative scoring average for the tournament (72.622 strokes) is the highest on the PGA Tour this year and makes the tournament the only one in 2012 to have an over-par scoring average.

diane.pucin@latimes.com

twitter.com/mepucin

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