BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. ' Another duel down the stretch. Another shot that hit a pin and kicked away. Another loss in a major championship.
He bristled when asked about his disappointment after finishing tied for second at the PGA Championship on Sunday, two shots behind Padraig Harrington.
Why are you making this a disappointment? he snapped at his questioner in the twilight glow outside Oakland Hills. Obviously I was trying to win, but thats it. Its not disappointing.
Its just that everyone expects it to be. How can someone fall short again on the biggest stage and not be disappointed?
Garcia says he does not brood about his defeats, even the three seconds in majors. He gives it his best, sees where he finishes and then heads home. Mission accomplished. Sort of.
But thats not the way most premier athletes think.
Asked later if, when he was leading by a shot heading into the final nine holes on Sunday, he thought he finally was on his way to that elusive first major victory, he couldnt withhold his anger.
Next question, he said. Lets try to keep this as positive as we can, please.
Its just that more than the victories, Garcias decade in the spotlight has been measured by his close calls in the biggest tournaments.
He exploded on the world scene by challenging Tiger Woods as a callow 19-year-old at the 1999 PGA Championship at Medinah, showing he was a marvelous shotmaker like his idol Seve Ballesteros only he played with the joy of a kid.
Still, he finished second to Woods that year. In 2007 he lost to Harrington (again) at Carnoustie, having his heart broken when his shot to the 16th green in the playoff ricocheted off the base of the pin and ended up 18 feet away.
He also played in the last group at the British Open at Hoylake in 2006 before fading to a tie for fifth and, that same year, tied for third at the PGA, six shots back of Woods (again).
After those setbacks things appeared to be going his way Sunday.
It was looking like it was his day, Harrington said.
Three shots defined Garcias latest, uh, shortcoming.
Tied with Ben Curtis and a shot ahead of playing partner Harrington at the uphill, par-4 15th, his iron approach tracked the pin all the way, hitting it flush, sliding down the shaft, then glancing out of the cup and ending up 15 feet away. It was eerily reminiscent of what happened at Carnoustie, another bad break that could have turned things his way.
Then on the next hole, on a 6 iron to the green from 178 yards, he said, I came out of it just a touch. The ball went right on a hole where the green is surrounded on three sides by a lake. The ball hit on a bank, clicked off a stone and ended up sinking to the bottom of the water, leading to a bogey and dropping him into a tie with Harrington.
Harrington stuck his 5-iron on the par-3 17th about 10 feet away. Garcia stuffed his 5-iron even closer. But Harrington rolled his putt in and Garcias missed.
Another major lost.
Hes been close, Curtis said of Garcia. Hes such a talented player that its just a matter of time.
The Spaniard, now 28, agrees. He tries to be philosophical about his setbacks.
Theres guys that get a little bit fortunate. They get in contention, in a major, and manage to get things going their way, either because they play well or because somebody else comes back, Garcia said. Unfortunately, it hasnt happened to me.
No matter what he says, that has to be a major disappointment for anyone.