Garcia in better frame of mind about major collapse

Thursday, August 9, 2007
Sergio Garcia cooled off in front of a large fan on the eighth green during a practice round Wednesday for the 89th PGA Golf Championship at the Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Okla. The fans were placed around the course to cool off golfers and spectators because of the expected high temperatures. (Morry Gash ~ Associated Press)

The PGA Championship begins today at Southern Hillsin Tulsa, Okla.

TULSA, Okla. -- Rarely has a second-place finisher sounded like as big a loser as Sergio Garcia did after the British Open.

Three weeks later, and with another shot at a major coming up, Garcia said he wouldn't have changed a thing.

Well, maybe one thing.

"I would have tried to hit that putt on 18 a little bit further out," he said Wednesday, on the eve of the PGA Championship.

Concerning his post-Carnoustie comments, in which he elevated his bad luck to Shakespearean proportions, insisting nobody gets as many bad breaks as he does ... well, for that, he has no regrets.

"Yeah, I was emotional," he said. "I opened myself up to you guys, and I said what I felt. That's pretty much it."

Several times Wednesday, Garcia gave Padraig Harrington the credit he duly deserves for winning the British Open, a sentiment that was sorely missing in the heat of the moment at Carnoustie.

Harrington's win, of course, left one fewer person to vie with Garcia for the title of Best Player to Never Win a Major.

Sergio burst onto the scene in 1999 as "El Nino," a brash teenager expected to be Tiger's next great challenger. But each year, the magical moment at that PGA -- the tree root, the sprint up the fairway at Medinah, the second-place finish filled with so much potential -- fades further into memory.

"It's a different situation," Garcia said when asked if he used 1999 as positive reinforcement coming into this week. "I didn't win the British Open. Padraig did, and he deserved it. He played very, very well all week. But I was the only one who had the winning putt in regulation. And to me, you know, that means a lot."

If that putt slides an inch to the right, it's Garcia playing alongside first-time major winners Zach Johnson and Angel Cabrera in today's opening round at Southern Hills and Harrington answering questions about how he manages to move on.

Instead, Garcia has fallen to 0-for-33 in the majors, a stat that, fair or not, carries more weight than his 14-4-2 Ryder Cup record. And it's Garcia who now plays the still-waiting-for-a-major role that once belonged to Phil Mickelson -- except in many minds, Garcia doesn't play it with nearly as much charm.

On Tuesday, Mickelson talked about how the hardest part of not winning a major was answering all the questions, trying to be open and honest and not sound like an idiot relating the deep-down feeling that he was sure his day would come soon.

"No matter which way you went with it, it was always going to come back to bite you," Mickelson said.

Garcia tried to be open and honest after Carnoustie, but it was merely translated as self-pitying and lame.

On Wednesday, he took a little bit different view.

"That's the beauty of the game. That's what we play for," he said. "But you know, the guy that finishes second is always the first loser, I guess, so it's hard sometimes."

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