Last month at the Open Championship Garcia did everything but win at Carnoustie. In the press conference that followed his playoff loss to Padraig Harrington, he did everything but behave like a sportsman.
The worlds golfing press pilloried Garcia for his petulance. In response, Garcias handlers were livid with what they believed was unfair treatment of a high-spirited competitor who was still smarting, in the heat of the moment, from a bitterly-disappointing loss.
For his part, Garcia went mostly dark in the following weeks, choosing to explain very little about Carnoustie and its immediate aftermath.
So there was a palpable air of anticipation Wednesday at Southern Hills on the eve of the 89th PGA Championship when Garcia met the pens-and-lenses crowd head-on in a packed media center.
Would there be a Carnoustie autopsy? Would there be a public dissection? Would there be an apology? Would the scars show in the plain light of day?
The answers, in order, were no, no, no and not really.
The closest Garcia came to exposing nerves that might still be raw came when a reporter asked if, given a do-over, he would have couched things differently after the loss at Carnoustie--where, among other things--he suggested he gets more bad breaks than other players.
Specifically, the questioner asked Garcia if he regretted his comments. Yeah, I was emotional, Garcia replied. I opened myself up to you guys and I said what I felt. Thats pretty much it.
And that was pretty much it for a media appearance that lasted 15 minutes and felt like five. Garcias answers were not unresponsive. But there was little in the way of elaboration. And there wasnt a whiff of the effusiveness we have come to expect from Garcia in good times.
The opinion here is that Garcia is scarred by Carnoustie but the damage will not be permanent. The opinion here also is that Garcia probably learned more about himself on the course at Carnoustie than he did about himself off the course.
It all comes back, in this instance, to that hoary old chestnut about the guy who said, Show me a good loser, and Ill show you a loser. To which the response always should have been: Show me a bad loser, and Ill show you a loser, too.
So which would you rather be? Which would you rather teach your children to be? The answer is patently obvious.
Meanwhile, back at Planet Sergio, he also said Wednesday that it wasnt easy the first week after, a couple of days after (Carnoustie). But, no, you get over it.
I think overall it was a great experience to be up in the lead all week long, Garcia added. I was the only one that had the winning putt in regulation.
But he missed the putt and, at the time, missed the point. I hope that I have the winning putt here again, he said. And, you know, whatever happens, at least if Im in that position, Ill be pretty happy with it.
The first instinct is to like Sergio. His own instincts are playful. His smile is infectious. His style is captivating. But his choices arent always the best. Like the time he threw a shoe into the gallery after slipping on the 15th tee at Wentworth in an important match he lost to Retief Goosen. Or the time he spit into a cup at Doral during a round. Or his press conference at Carnoustie.
He says winning a major is just a matter of time. And his talent says the same thing. We can only hope his ultimate maturation is also just a matter of time. He comes from a close-knit, grounded family. And that will work in his favor.
Finally theres this: Sergio Garcia tied for 12th at the U.S. Open when they played the U.S. Open here in 2001. golf course architect Robert Trent Jones Jr. said Wednesday afternoon that the best all-around driver of the golf ball will have a huge advantage at Southern Hills this week. Many people believe Garcia is the best all-around driver of the golf ball in the world.
So stick around. If Garcia wins his first major Sunday, his post-round press conference will be a must see and a must hear.
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