One month later at the U.S. Open at Southern Hills, Garcia tied for 12th, seven strokes behind Retief Goosen. The following week was the Buick Classic, a $3.2 million event in suburban New York. Woods, Singh, Duval were all lined up to compete at Westchester Country club.
Stewart Cink got the early jump with a 65, two strokes better than Singh and Scott Hoch. This time Garcia was in the running from the start, posting a 68 that left him seven clear of Woods and in a five-way tie for third.
Around rain that delayed play by a day, Garcia’s 67 and 66 left him with a solid grasp on the lead, sitting at 201 two ahead of his closest challenger, Hoch. His uneventful Monday 67 left him three clear of Hoch, the runner-up, with the rest of the field strung out behind them.
In the aftermath, Garcia boldly declared his intentions: Be the world’s best. That meant beating Woods.
“I think I’m getting closer and closer,” he said, although agreeing that in order to accomplish his goal, his victories would have to become more frequent.
Still this one, which made two in six weeks, was impressive. Garcia beat the four-round field average by a margin of 2.71 standard deviations. Through his Sanderson triumph this past weekend, that remains the most dominant single week of his professional life.