Weeks: Calmer, more mature Garcia shares early lead

Bob Weeks
4/12/2013 12:24:03 AM
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A year ago, Sergio Garcia walked off Augusta National and told reporters that he simply didn't have what it takes to win major championships. He said he'd tried his best, but whatever it took to win one of the big four, it was missing in his make up.

A stunning admission or a petulant rant? Garcia says it now it was a heat-of-the-moment comment that just summed up his frustration at the time. But one year later, that same guy has a share of the lead at the Masters on a course he doesn't really love.

''It's obviously not my most favorite place,'' said Garcia after his six-under 66. ''But you know, we try to enjoy it as much as we can each time we come here. Sometimes it comes out better than others, but today it was one of those good days. And you know, let's enjoy it while it lasts.''

On Thursday, Garcia was simply magnificent over his first 10 holes, going five under, a stretch that could have been even better.

'To tell you the truth, if I manage to make a couple of the putts that kind of stayed around the lip, I could have been probably seven- or eight-under par through 10,'' Garcia said. ''It was that good. And it wasn't like I was hitting pitching wedge every single time. I was hitting 4-irons and 5-irons and 6-irons, so it wasn't that easy.''

In some ways, it's stunning that Garcia doesn't have a major on his resume. He has a remarkable 17 top-10s in majors, nine of those inside the top 5. His first notoriety on this side of the Atlantic came in a major he almost won, when he battled Tiger Woods down the stretch at the 1999 PGA Championship before finishing second. At that point, the expectations went beyond winning majors, he was going to be a rival to Woods.

On the other hand, maybe the fact he's major-less isn't that much of a shock. Garcia has always found a way to turn victories into defeats, either through poor shots, unwise risks or even bad clothes – who can ever forget his banana-coloured outfit on the final day of the 2006 Open Championship?

Still, Sergio can amaze you with his shotmaking. There was his famous around-the-tree shot at that '99 PGA or his from-the-tree shot last month at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. And about 1,000 others that are memorable and impressive.

Of course, he can also confound you with his actions. Remember when he spit into the cup at Doral in 1997? Or how about when he took a two-month hiatus from the game, reportedly to get over a broken heart?
That's Sergio. Or more precisely, that was Sergio. These days, it's a calmer, more mature Garcia who seems to be evening out the highs and lows of golf and life.

"Sometimes I do feel like there is such a thing as being too, you know, too hyper about something," stated Garcia, who hasn't finished outside the top 20 in any tournament he's finished this year. "You've still got to keep calm.  I've obviously changed as a player.  I'm not the same way I was when I was 19.  I still get very excited about playing the game every single week and trying to win tournaments.  But it's obviously not the same feeling that when I was 19, 20 or 21. But that's kind of normal."

Can Sergio win a major? Without a doubt. Will he? It seems that it could finally be his time, but then, that's not the first time we've written that.

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