Here are all the Europeans who have more career PGA Tour wins since World War II than Sergio Garcia:
That's the entire list. Garcia tied Nick Faldo and Seve Ballesteros at nine career wins on Sunday with his victory over Brooks Koepka at the AT&T Byron Nelson. He called the victory Seve-esque which was fitting given the history Garcia made in Dallas by tying his hero.
The most impressive thing about it to me (as I pointed out here) was that Garcia rebounded after dunking one in the water on No. 14 to play the last four holes in 1 under and sneak into the playoff. He was three back at the time and could have ejected so easily. He could have mailed it in and moved on to the next week.
In Sergio's defense, if we were ever in an apocalypse type situation, he's a guy we could always count on to find water.— No Laying Up (@NoLayingUp) May 22, 2016
But he didn't, even though everyone expected that moment to be his undoing.
"To me, the most important thing at the end of the day is how I played the last four holes and the playoff hole," said Garcia. "Knowing that you have to do something ... I wouldn't say 'special,' but you have to do something good to have a chance knowing that there's some tough holes coming in."
Garcia is easy to mock for reasons I don't need to list here. He has lent himself to be the butt of our jokes and the punch line to pretty much every "golf is hard" meme you can find. He sometimes invents new ones that you never even knew were possible. He has been at different times in his career completely unlikable, a tragic figure, a conquering hero, an eternity of youthful optimism and the embodiment of an entire continent's melded spirit. And all of those just at the Ryder Cup!
What he has never been considered is underrated.
Garcia has nine PGA Tour wins now and nearly 20 more worldwide. He has 20 top 10s at major championships including four runner-up finishes. He has a Players Championship (nearly two or three, actually) and five Ryder Cups. He has won pro tournaments for 18 years. But because he hits shots in the water at extremely inopportune times and tells you he doesn't believe in himself or that he deserves to win tournaments, his career is only remembered for those things. Is that fair?
"Don't get me wrong, you have to get lucky to win tournaments," said Garcia on Sunday, summing up why a lot of people don't like him. "Playing well usually is not enough. And I did get fortunate ..."
Think about it this way: What if that putt Garcia hit on the 72nd hole at the 2007 Open lips in instead of out. Just consider that for a second. Now Garcia has 10 PGA Tour wins and a major. He's basically Adam Scott at that point, right? Nobody thinks Scott is a choke artist who has underperformed compared to his talent. Or maybe they do, but I don't. I think Scott has the prettiest swing in golf and has had a great career.
To sort of underscore all of this is what Garcia did off the tee on No. 18 in the playoff at the Nelson. After Koepka dumped one in the water to the left, Garcia chose a line that would have made the United States Air Force nervous -- cutting the water off, setting himself up in perfect position.
"No. 18 is either a 4-iron off the tee or a driver," explained Garcia. "It's not a 3-wood, not a 5-wood, not a 3-iron. You either play short of the water or challenge it all the way with a driver knowing if you pull it a little bit, hit it up in the air you can carry. I was happy with the driver. I knew that he could still hit it on the green and make 4 or 5 and if I laid up all the way back it wasn't that easy to make 4 ... so I just went with it. I hit a great drive in regulation, so I just trusted myself and I hit a bomb. I hit probably the best drive I hit all day."
He did this because this is what he does. He takes shots when they need to be taken. But because he's failed in big moments and because it's really, really fun to make fun of Sergio on social media, this narrative that Garcia is a choking dog who can't win big tournaments has overshadowed what has been a tremendous career.
We should be past defining great golfers only by wins. If we're still doing that, then I can't help you. A perfect storm of sorts has swirled over Sergio for his decade and a half in the spotlight. Combine the early success at majors with the never-ending comparison to Tiger Woods to the failure in big moments at bad times and you gets this prevailing tale that this dude just couldn't get it done.
Except he has gotten it done. More than several other golfers his age who get far more credit. Garcia has nine wins in just over 300 events so three victories for every 100 times he tees it up. Justin Rose, for example, has seven in 280 events. Matt Kuchar has seven in 364.
"I've always said it: Every win, doesn't matter even if you're playing in your backyard with friends, winning is always tough, and winning here on the PGA Tour is probably the toughest," said Garcia. My wins in Asia, my wins on the European Tour, those mean a lot, too. Because like I said before, the fields nowadays, they're so much deeper than they ever were and it's so much harder to win. You know, what Tiger was doing all those years, you don't see that happening anymore."
I'll ride for Sergio until the end of his career because his ball-striking stirs grown men and his "don't care if my partner just dunked one, I'm sailing that edge right there" attitude resonates. Sergio does not lay up, and I love him for it (despite the fact that he's never won a major championship).
(And for the record, I still think he snags that major.)
Let's go Inside the Numbers that defined last week's Byron Nelson.
403 -- Total feet of putts made by Sergio Garcia at the Byron Nelson. He was No. 1 in the field in that category.
72.5 -- Scoring average of Jordan Spieth in the final round of the Byron Nelson (six starts). That's two and a half over par, and it's one of the main reasons his best finish ever here is T16 when he was 16.
10 -- International winners in 16 events played at the Byron Nelson this century. That now includes Sergio Garcia twice.
1 -- Multi-time winner at TPC Four Seasons since the Nelson moved there in 1983. Garcia is the only guy.
4 -- The biggest 54-hole deficit overcome at this event is four strokes. Garcia came back from three down on Sunday.