CARNOUSTIE, Scotland &
Sergio Garcia now has played in the final group of a major championship three times, the same number as Phil Mickelson before he finally broke through at the 2004 Masters.
Garcia is only 27 and blessed with enormous talent, and it would be foolish to think he will never win a major.
But that's not his problem.
He first has to learn how to lose.
It might help to listen to Gary Player talk about his favorite subject this side of steroids. Player rarely gets through a dinner speech without taking a crack at longtime friend Jack Nicklaus, referring to him as golf's greatest champion &
and greatest loser.
Part of that is the record times Nicklaus finished second in the majors, and part of that is the graciousness Nicklaus invariably showed when someone beat him, whether it was Tom Watson at Turnberry or Lee Trevino at Merion.
That is sadly lacking with Garcia.
As much courage as Padraig Harrington showed Sunday at Carnoustie in winning the British Open, Garcia showed as little class when he pointed the finger in every direction but himself.
"I should write a book on how to not miss a shot in the playoff and shoot — over," Garcia said.
Guess that means he was trying to hit that approach in the bunker on the first playoff hole, leading to a bogey that put him two shots behind when Harrington made birdie from 8 feet. And if he didn't miss a shot, why was he screaming so much at his golf ball?
Look at all his bad luck.
There was the ball that struck the base of the pin on the 16th hole in the playoff and caromed 18 feet away. No telling how far the ball would have gone by the hole had it missed the pin. He had to wait too long in the 18th fairway as the bunkers were raked, a delay that began when Harrington twice hit into the Barry Burn.
There were conspiracies everywhere, and this being a links course, no shortage of grassy knolls.
"I guess it's not news in my life," Garcia said, who surely sees himself as the most cursed man who ever played the game.
No, this is nothing new.
Garcia has been pouting since he was a teenager, and his rant at Carnoustie was only the latest in a growing list.
162; 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black.
Tiger Woods played in the morning and shot 68, the only round under par among early starters. The cold rain got worse, and Garcia felt there was too much water on the greens and in the fairway late in the day. He shot 74 and fumed at the USGA for not stopping play.
"If Tiger Woods would have been out there, it would been called," Garcia said. "It wasn't easy this morning, but it was almost impossible this afternoon. It's tough to beat a buy when ... he gets breaks and makes putt."
162; 2001 Greg Norman Holden International in Sydney.
Garcia had a two-shot lead when his opening tee shot in the third round stopped next to a pine cone, and he was entitled to relief because a billboard was in his line of sight. But the drop was incorrect, and European Tour chief referee John Paramor had no choice but to assess a two-shot penalty.
"Hopefully, without John Paramor's rules, I'll be able to win," Garcia said.
He didn't win because Aaron Baddeley made a 20-foot birdie putt in the playoff, after Garcia missed from inside that distance on the final two holes of regulation. Surely, that had nothing to do with the outcome.
162; 2004 Masters.
Garcia shot a 31 on the back nine for a 66 that moved him up to fourth place, still his best finish at Augusta National. He used his occasion to rant about how the press only pays attention to him when he's doing well.
"When we're playing well, we're the best, and even when we're playing well and things are not going our way, we can be shocking," he said. "So it's nice to see how fair you guys are."
162; 2007 British Open at Carnoustie.
Much ground has been covered already, but the most staggering statement from Garcia was how the golfing gods were out to get him, and him alone. "I'm playing against a lot of guys out there, more than the field," he said.
Was he watching in 1999 when Jean Van de Velde's second shot to the 18th ricocheted off a tiny railing on the grandstand and back across Barry Burn? Wasn't he at Torrey Pines in 2005 when Charles Howell III hit a shot that landed in the cup for eagle, only to bounce out and into the water? That turned eagle into bogey, and Howell finished three shots behind.
"Crazy game," Howell said that day, leaving out any mention of conspiracy.
162; 2007 CA Championship at Doral.
Garcia was so disgusted by a three-putt in the third round that when he retrieved his ball, he spit into the cup a gob of saliva easily picked up by television. Beyond disgusting, it was rude to the guys playing in the groups behind him.
"Don't worry. It did go in the middle (of the cup) and wasn't going to affect anyone else," Garcia told NBC Sports.
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem was in Miami that week, and he was either looking the other way or not paying attention when he suggested the spitting incident was a "one-off" for Garcia. This has been going on since Garcia was 19, and he threw a shoe that nearly hit a rules official at the World Match Play Championship.
Garcia would do well to try to emulate Nicklaus, described by his friend as the greatest champion and greatest loser.
Because right now, Garcia is neither.
is a golf writer for The Associated Press.
The first step for Garcia is learning to lose
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland &