2004 Byron Nelson
Garcia came to the Nelson in May of 2004 without a victory in more than two seasons. His star had risen and fallen, but he remained committed to chasing the imposing spectre that Woods had become in the interim.
This event gave him the chance he wanted to remind fans of his ability to compete with Tiger.
The challenge could not have been more clearly drawn following Thursday’s first round of play.,. Woods shared the lead with Dudley Hart at 65, and Garcia loomed just one stroke back at 66, tied with three players.
A 65 Saturday left Sergio precisely where he wanted to be…at 199, leading Woods by three strokes and with one player (Jerry Kelly, 201) as a buffer between them. That meant Garcia would be playing in the twosome behind Woods on Sunday, and would thus have a chance to react to any moves Tiger made.
Sunday’s final round turned out to be a survival exercise. Woods shot 69 to make up only two of Garcia’s three stroke margin. But others came at him. Tim Herron shot 64 and fell one short of catching up. Robert Damron closed with 66 and Dudley Hart posted 67, both good enough to match Garcia’s total of 270.
That sent the threesome to a playoff. But in that playoff, both Damron and Hart took bogeys. When Garcia calmly tapped in for his par, he had his fourth tour championship…and his first in what came close to a head-to-head staredown with Woods.
“I pulled through,” he said succinctly. Garcia’s win measured 1.77 standard deviations better than the field average.