Garcia branches out with top award

Sergio Garcia's amazing shot from behind a tree at the United States PGA championship in August has been named the 1999 Canon Shot of the Year.Two behind Tiger Woods with three holes to play, the 19-year-old Spaniard smashed at the ball with his eyes shut, then opened them and raced up the fairway to see the ball reach the green.

Sergio Garcia's amazing shot from behind a tree at the United States PGA championship in August has been named the 1999 Canon Shot of the Year.Two behind Tiger Woods with three holes to play, the 19-year-old Spaniard smashed at the ball with his eyes shut, then opened them and raced up the fairway to see the ball reach the green.

"It was between a five and a six-iron and I had to aim about 60 to 70 yards left," Garcia recalls. "I had 189 yards to the hole and had two roots near the ball.

"I had to slice it and I couldn't afford to hit the first root. Then I had to make sure not to start it too far right or I might have hit the second root and the ball could have come back and hit me.

"I opened the face of a six-iron as much as I could and tried to get out of the way in case it hit the tree. I had to go for it and it's probably the greatest shot I've played so far in my life."

He made his par four, but Woods held on to win by one. Garcia's compensation was that his second place made him the youngest-ever player to qualify for the Ryder Cup, a remarkable feat he achieved in under four months as a professional.

Named last week as the European tour's Rookie of the Year - he finished third on the Order of Merit - Garcia follows fellow Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez as the recipient of the Shot of the Year award. Jimenez chipped in to win the 1999 Lancome Trophy.

Colin Montgomerie was the winner the two previous years, first for a driver off the fairway on the final hole of the Dubai Desert Classic and then for his closing drive at the 1997 Ryder Cup, and before that Nick Faldo's pitch to the 18th at the 1995 Ryder Cup took the prize.

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