After a succession of near-misses in the game’s four biggest events, Sergio Garcia believes that a change in his temperament could finally see him cross the line in this week’s Open Championship at Royal Liverpool.
The 34-year-old Spaniard has 18 top tens in 65 major appearances - three runner-up finishes amongst them - and has earned an unfortunate reputation for reacting sullenly to his ‘best golfer never to win a major’ tag.
However, after opening with a four-under 68 at Hoylake, he reckons he has now developed the proper winning mentality.
Asked if he has changed his mindset after all of his near-misses over the years, Garcia replied: “I think that, with the experiences that you have, you try to kind of ease up a little bit. At the end of the day, I realise that I’m out there trying to do my best. Obviously, some days I feel it better than others but, if I’m doing my best, I can’t ask myself for anything else.
“If I’m throwing shots away, not carrying anything, then I can be disappointed with myself. But, like I said, if I do my best, even if sometimes it doesn’t go that great, there’s nothing else you can do, really.”
After opening in style with a birdie three, Garcia covered the front nine at Royal Liverpool in three-under, after two more birdies at three and five. He recovered from giving one of those shots back at the tenth with a birdie at 11, before holing an 18-foot putt on 13 to get his Open Championship charge off to a superb start.
"After the Ryder Cup, this is my favourite tournament." - Sergio Garcia
Naturally, he’s determined to see that through to the end.
“Even in the tough years, this championship is different to me, I love it so much,” said Garcia. “After the Ryder Cup, it’s my favourite tournament to play. You always come with a different frame of mind here, even if you’re struggling a little bit.
“I enjoy the people out there. It almost feels like a Ryder Cup when people start shouting, ‘Come on, lads’ and things like that. Those are things you don’t hear that often and it’s good to hear this week.”
The last time the Open visited Hoylake, Garcia played in the final group on Sunday alongside eventual winner Tiger Woods. Clearly, then, it’s a course that suits him. Even so, he’s refusing to get carried away with himself.
“It’s only the first day,” he noted. “There are so many things that can happen out there. It would be nice to put myself in a position to have a solid chance on Sunday, like I did a couple of times and like I did here, in 2006. But it’s only the first day, so we’re going to go step by step and, hopefully, keep shooting good scores.”
Sergio Garcia – Is this his year?
After so many near-misses in the majors, is this the week that Sergio Garcia finally makes his breakthrough? Leave your thoughts in our ‘Comments’ section below.