AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Sergio Garcia won the 81st Masters. It is the most improbable of all the major championships for him to have clinched his first victory. After 74 starts at the big four tournaments and 22 top 10s to boot, he finally bagged the big one -- the biggest one.
There has been so much heartache over the years, it’s hard to keep track of it all. Garcia had finished runner-up an astounding four times without winning. It’s nearly impossible that he had not won a major championship until Sunday, but let’s recount all of the near misses.
1999 PGA Championship: This might be the most famous of them all. Garcia shot a 71 on Sunday to lose by one to Tiger Woods, who shot 72. This was the famous scissor kick major at Medinah when we all thought Garcia was going to win 10 of these things.
2002 U.S. Open: Garcia trailed Woods by four going into the final round at Bethpage Black, fired a 74 and lost by six. When you trail Woods by four going into the final round of anything, you weren’t really in it.
2006 Open Championship: Garcia was tied for second with Chris Dimarco and Ernie Els going into the final round and got absolutely torched by Woods, eventually losing by seven strokes.
2007 Open Championship: This was pretty easily his best chance. Garcia led by three going into the final round, shot a 73, missed a putt on the final hole and lost in a playoff to Padraig Harrington.
2008 PGA Championship: Garcia trailed by three going into the final round at Oakland Hills and lost by two to Padraig Harrington after firing a slick final round 68.
Garcia said in his post-Masters press conference that he didn’t really get tired of being asked about being the best player without a major because at least he was the best at something. Then he followed that by saying that he’s glad that he can be asked about being the best player to only win one major in the future.
It was particuarlly thrilling for him that this victory came at Augusta National, a course that pushed him to his limits throughout hsi career. “I came to peace with it the last 3-4 years. I accepted what Augusta gives and takes. I think, because of that, I’m able to stand here today,” he said.