Garcia expects breakthrough

Garcia expects major breakthrough soon

Despite terrible luck at Carnoustie, Sergio Garcia says his major breakthrough is coming soon

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 Thursday'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.

Many feel he sacrificed his chance for empathy a long time ago.

He made few fans during his annoying bout of constant club waggling that stymied his game earlier this decade. His behavior at Bethpage during the 2002 U.S. Open, when he complained about the conditions, so-called preferential treatment for Tiger Woods and made an obscene gesture toward fans who were heckling him, may have been a turning point in the way many view him. Earlier this year, he spit in the cup after three-putting at the CA Championship at Doral, a gesture that couldn't be construed as anything but classless.

He was in the last group with Tiger at Bethpage, though he never had much of a chance. Last year, he played with Tiger again on Sunday at the British Open, but wilted quickly and finished fifth - the most memorable thing about that round being the garish banana-yellow outfit he wore.

Now, Carnoustie. To get over his latest heartbreak, Garcia played a little tennis, went to the beach, hung out with friends.

"And then I started practicing," he said. "I think it was on Thursday, trying to get ready for Bridgestone last week."

Harrington told of running into Garcia in the parking lot during last week's tournament. Both men were getting into their cars, so there wasn't a real opportunity to chat.

"It was very odd," Harrington said.

He said that, sure, it would have been difficult for him to rebound had he lost the British, especially considering the double-bogey he posted on the 18th hole to put Garcia in position to win.

Garcia could have won, probably should have won. But then came the long wait - five to 15 minutes depending on whom you talk to - for his second shot on the 18th fairway. That led to an approach shot into a bunker. And that led to a 10-foot putt to win, one he struck well, but that just didn't go in.

He lost the playoff to Harrington by one stroke.

"I don't know. I should write a book on how to not miss a shot in the playoff and shoot 1-over," Garcia said afterward. "It's the way it is. I guess it's not news in my life."

Open and honest? Or whiny and pathetic?

On Wednesday, he took a little bit different view of his bad breaks. He was focusing on the positives from that deflating day.

"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."