04/09/2017

It’s well documented, Sergio Garcia’s story in golf. Perhaps even more documented are Garcia’s shortcomings on golf’s largest stages. He was a major-less man, for so many years. In so many other years.

Garcia has always been a player flush with as much emotion as talent. Volatile on and off the course, Sergio always had demons controlling his demeanor. Voices both inside and outside the media pointed to his personality as the reason for his lack of triumphant success. It was “holding him back.”

But truth be told, it was his demeanor that provided the flair which delivered much of his brilliance. It’s why he became a household name in the first place.

But despite his world-class talent and flair for the theatrics, in the majors, Sergio always seemed snakebit. Well, it didn’t just seem that way. Sergio was snakebit.

In 1999 at Medinah, as he sprinted and skipped up the fairway, Sergio was introduced to the world. He was playing the best golf of his young life. He was poised for greatness. Too bad that he’d been paired with golf’s most dominant golfer, fresh off a two-year rebuilding of a golf swing that made Tiger Woods the most dominant player for a 10-year stretch.

But Sergio had time. He was only 19 years old.

Then years of heartbreak followed.

2007 at Carnoustie was probably the worst. A putt hit so great on the 18th green felt destined for the bottom of the cup, all before staying out to the left. He would later lose The Open to Padraig Harrington.

In 2008, a year later, Garcia found himself in contention at the PGA Championship at Oakland Hills. Only three shots off the lead on Sunday, Sergio shot the second lowest score of the day among any of the competitors to finish inside the top-10. Again, though, Harrington got Garcia, beating him by two that Sunday.

Before Augusta, Garcia had 22 top-10s in majors. His 74 starts without a major victory was coming close to the most of all time, nearing Jay Haas’ 87.

After Friday’s round, Garcia sat in Butler Cabin with ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt and had the following to say about Augusta National, a course where he’d had a historically tumultuous affar:

“Usually feels like it’s the kind of golf course that you have to get to know it a little bit; you have to make peace with it a little bit.”

Sergio Garcia, after round 2.

Peace he made with it, in 2017.

For years, it was always Sergio to get the bad break. Sergio would choke. Sergio would be beaten by a player with a better day. Sergio would fail to deliver.

But not this year. This year, things went Sergio’s way.

I first noticed the luck was changing on Sergio’s second shot into 13 on Saturday afternoon. He hit a shot with a one-handed follow-through, one that appeared destined for the hazard. But somehow, miraculously, he ended up here. He had a chance to get up-and-down for birdie.

In another year, that ball would find the hazard inside Amen Corner.

The breaks continued the rest of the weekend for Sergio. This includes finishing his third round with a gutsy two-putt for par on 18, a putt we’ve all seen Sergio miss in his career. Maybe in another year.

In another year, his Sunday second shot on the par-4 10th would find the bushes on the right. Instead, it bounced down into an accessible place. This bounce happened on both Saturday and Sunday on the 10th.

In another year, Sergio would fail to get up-and-down on the par-5 13th. In another year, he would miss the crucial par save.

In another year, Justin Rose would convert his two-putt birdie on the same hole, the 13th. In another year, he’d make the 7-foot putt.

In another year, Sergio’s ball would fly an additional 24 inches on the 15th, carom off the flagstick, and end up far away from the hole, potentially in the water.

In another year, Rose would bury his par putt on 17, the same way he did at Merion in 2013.

In another year, it would be another man wearing the green jacket.

But not this year. This year, it’s Sergio’s.