Garcia sheds his shoe as Goosen steals the show

THE SICK golfer was not the man to beware on the opening day of the World Match Play Championship. More like the quietly brilliant one. While Jose Maria Olazabal, bedevilled by the 'flu, somehow managed to stagger round 33 holes before admitting defeat to Notah Begay III, Sergio Garcia was defeated by Retief Goosen.

THE SICK golfer was not the man to beware on the opening day of the World Match Play Championship. More like the quietly brilliant one. While Jose Maria Olazabal, bedevilled by the 'flu, somehow managed to stagger round 33 holes before admitting defeat to Notah Begay III, Sergio Garcia was defeated by Retief Goosen.

The South African will never exude more than a tiny fraction of the charisma of the 19-year-old Spaniard. In personality terms, Goosen would have suffered the sort of humiliating 9 and 8 defeat he thought he might be in for when Garcia birdied the first two holes on a perfect autumnal morning.

"I'm someone who likes to hang at the back of the pack. At the end of the day, it comes down to the scorecard," Goosen said after winning 2 and 1 in one of the classic matches in the tournament's history.

Having momentarily turned away, Goosen even managed to miss one of the rare moments when Garcia acted like the teenager he is. Two down with four to play, with two of the previous three holes having been halved in birdies, El Niño knew he had to follow his opponent's fine drive down the 15th fairway.

But his back foot slipped at impact and the ball sailed into the trees on the left. Furious, Garcia ripped off his right shoe and threw it at an advertising hoarding. When his manager tossed it back, Garcia, like one of his heroes from Real Madrid, kicked at the shoe which then narrowly missed the match referee, John Grant.

Garcia hit a provisional, which he hooked even further into the trees, and threw his driver at his caddie, Jerry Higginbotham. In a match of such brilliant golf, it was the player who lost his cool who lost the match. After finding his first ball, Garcia did well to make a five but a birdie at the next only prolonged the game by one hole.

At the end of the match, Garcia gave his shoes to a child in the gallery. "The problem was that it was not the first time this happened. It happened five times this week," Garcia said. "It was a tight match and I knew I could not miss a shot so after that I knew it was almost gone. I am sorry but we are all human. If I think about it, I wouldn't do it again."

It was the only sour note in a match in which, Garcia said, "no one was giving his arm to break". One up at lunch, Goosen scored birdies at the first three holes in the afternoon. He won the first two, saw Garcia halve the third with his own three and then win the next three holes with an eagle and two birdies. Goosen then won two of the next three holes in equalling the tournament record of 29 for the front nine. The pair's eclectic score for the outward half was 10 under.

Padraig Harrington was 11 under in beating Carlos Franco 7 and 6, while Craig Parry's greater matchplay experience saw the Australian past the Open champion, Paul Lawrie. Begay, the only Native American on the US Tour, pulled ahead of Olazabal by going to the turn in 32 in the afternoon and today plays Colin Montgomerie, whom he called "the best matchplayer in the world".

Monty is to reduce his American schedule next year from 10 tournaments to six: three majors, two World Championships and the Players' event. "I don't need the personal insults I tend to get," the Scot told BBC television.

"I just do not need them. I don't know what it is going to be like after the Ryder Cup. Hopefully, I don't have to prove anything to anyone, even over there. If I happen to win in the US, so be it. But it is not something I have to do or want to do so badly."

WORLD MATCH PLAY CHAMPIONSHIP (Wentworth): C Parry (Aus) bt P Lawrie (GB) 4 and 3; S Garcia (Sp) lost to R Goosen (SA) 2 and 1; C Franco (Par) lost to P Harrington (Irl) 7 and 6; J M Olazabal (Sp) lost to N Begay (US) 4 and 3

Today's draw and tee-off times: 0845 and 1300 (C Parry (Aus) v M O'Meara (US); 0900 and 1315 R Goosen (SA) v N Price (Zim); 0915 and 1330 P Harrington (Irl) v E Els (SA); 0930 and 1345 N Begay (US) v C Montgomerie (GB).

* Spain's Francisco Cea fired a seven-under par 65 for a one-stroke lead over the English pair, Robert Coles and Roger Winchester, and the Danish Ryder Cup player Thomas Bjorn in the Sarazen World Open in Girona, Spain. Ian Woosnam, one of the pre-tournament favourites, was six shots off the lead after a one under par 71. Richard Boxall struggled to a 77 and, at 128th, looks in real danger of losing his Tour card for the second successive year, an outcome which could spell the end of the Surrey player's 17-year career.

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