Sergio Seeking to Take Next Major Step


Sergio Garcia is only 25 years old and already has played in 25 major championships.
The next step is to win one.
Not long after Phil Mickelson won the Masters last year, some tried to figure out who should wear the label as the 'best player to have never won a major.'
Despite his age, Garcia's name kept coming up.
He already has won five times on the PGA Tour and nine times around the world. But what separates him from other young players with bigger trophies - such as Adam Scott, who won The Players Championship last year - is Garcia's performances in the majors.
Not many will forget his dynamic charge at Medinah in the 1999 PGA Championship, when the 19-year-old carved shots out of trees, raced up fairways and finished one shot behind Tiger Woods.
He was in weekend contention at the U.S. Open and British Open in 2001. He played with Woods in the final round of the 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black and finished fourth. And while he was never a factor at Augusta National last year, Garcia played his final 12 holes in 8 under par for a 66 to finish in a tie for fourth.
That alone gave him plenty of confidence going into this year.
'It gives you a little bit of momentum, but you've still got to go perform,' Garcia said Tuesday. 'We're all starting from scratch. I'm hoping to do that this year, hopefully three more rounds just like that.'
The Masters is the one major where Garcia would seem to thrive.
Augusta National has been good to Spaniards - Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal each have won twice, and Garcia is the only European to be low amateur at the Masters, tying for 38th in 1999.
His imagination with a wedge is exquisite, and he retooled his swing two years ago to reduce the moving parts.
'I like what Sergio has done with his game,' Nick Price said.
Still, memories of his Masters drift from the closing 66 to his surly behavior when the round was over - first in an interview with Dick Enberg in the Butler Cabin, then with reporters in the press center.
'You've got to understand that we are human beings here, and we can't always be in a perfect mood,' he said. 'Unfortunately, I wasn't last year. But you learn from those things, and I got a lot of positive things out of it.'
Garcia later attributed his mood at the Masters to being away from his home in Spain too long.
But there is a sense that Garcia feels left out when people talk about the top players in golf, even though his credentials do not warrant him being mentioned among the best half-dozen players.
His answers became short at the start of the year when asked what it would take for him to belong in that group. But on Tuesday, the boyishness came out when asked about the so-called 'Fab Four.'
'Are they fat? I don't think they're fat,' he said.
When a British reporter emphasized 'Fab,' Garcia smiled playfully and gave them their due.
'They are all playing at a good level. Things are going nicely for them,' he said. 'The only thing I can do is control myself. I can try to get better and keep improving. I'm not too worried about it.'
Indeed, there was a quiet confidence about him. He has been around for so long, that it's hard to remember he is still among the youngest players in golf. He made his major debut in the 1996 British Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes as a 16-year-old, and still plays without fear.
'I've felt confident all my life,' Garcia said. 'I've always had the belief that I'm good enough to win if it's my week. Unfortunately, it hasn't happened yet. But I know I'm on the right track.'
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