If at First you Don’t Succeed, Try 73 More Times: Sergio Garcia’s Difficult Road to his First Major Championship
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As important as the Masters is to the world of golf, there was more to Garcia’s 2017 Masters victory than meets the eye. 37 year-old Garcia has competed at 73 consecutive major championships since his debut as a professional, and for the last 20 years—aside from the Sunday night—has narrowly come up short each time.
1999 PGA Championship
Garcia began his hunt for a major at the 1999 PGA championship, where he battled against perhaps the greatest golfer of all time, in the heart of his prime, Tiger Woods. During this championship, many expected Garcia to be as good as Woods, who was also very young at the time. During the back nine on the final round, Garcia was surging. On the 16th hole, he hit arguably the most famous shot of the tournament, where his ball was against a tree and he somehow managed to get on the green. Even though this was not enough to knock off Wood’s one stroke lead, it was widely believed that Garcia was bound for many future major championships.
2002 U.S. Open
It wasn’t long before Garcia and Woods met again in a battle for another major. After coming up from a huge deficit on day three and shooting a 67, Garcia was tied with Woods for the lead going into sunday. However, Tiger’s sunday red and dominating play was just too much for Garcia. He shot a two over 74 and cost himself a chance at a major championship.
2007 British Open
In 2007, Garcia walked up the 18th fairway at Carnoustie winning by a stroke, his first major only a putt away. Unfortunately sticking with his major pattern, he missed his shot on the green, allowing Padraig Harrington to tie the match, sending the 2007 British Open into a playoff. Padraig Harrington seized the opportunity, and with winning the fourhole playoff, won the tournament as British Open as well.
2008 PGA Championship
Garcia, refusing to get discouraged, came back for the second consecutive year in a position to win a major. Entering the back nine it looked as if the long awaited trophy was his, but his misfortune remained. On the 16th hole, Garcia found the water with his approach shot to the green and couldn’t seem to recover from the penalty. Harrington again went on to beat Garcia in a major for the second year in a row.
Hallelujah! Finally, Garcia found a way to win a major. After getting two bogeys at the beginning of the back nine, Garcia looked like he was going to fade away as Justin Rose was flourishing. However, after an eagle at 15, Garcia was back in the mix. With the score tied at -9 going into the final hole of the tournament, Garcia bombed his drive and and then hit his approach to around five feet. After Rose missed his birdie putt, Garcia had a downhill putt to win but missed on the right hand side. After hitting his second putt to force a playoff, Rose pushed his drive into the Magnolia trees and gave himself no shot to reach the green in regulation. However, Garcia hit his drive onto the fairway and managed to get his second shot to about 10 feet from the pin. Rose, showing his class, let Garcia walk to the green first so that the patrons could congratulate him. After Garcia hit his birdie putt to win, the crowd roared as Garcia gave a huge fist pump and yelled out in joy. Soon after, Garcia was given the trophy and the famous green jacket.