EDISON, N.J. – It’s been just over a year since Sergio Garcia decided to shut down his game for two months. The Spaniard decided to take a two-month break after what he said was a “long year.”
The break amounted to a reset of his game, particularly on the mental side, which had been ravaged. As high as Garcia was at the 2008 Players Championship, he had reached the opposite depths last summer.
“It’s been a very positive year,” Garcia said Wednesday.
Still without a PGA Tour victory since that playoff win at Sawgrass, Garcia has enjoyed a solid year in 2011. He has been in position to win in Tampa and at the Byron Nelson before faltering.
“I feel like I probably could’ve done a little better than I did in some tournaments,” Garcia explained.
The kill switch on his weeks in contention this year has been Moving Day. Saturday had not been kind to Garcia until a distinguished third round at the U.S. Open.
“It could’ve been Saturday, like it could’ve been Friday or could’ve been Sunday. It’s one of those things. It’s just a coincidence,” Garcia explained. “Earlier in the year, it was a coincidence of playing well the first two days but not scoring as well on Saturday. It doesn’t mean that I played badly, but maybe things didn’t go as well, or a couple of shots didn’t go as well.”
Despite the disappointments in isolation, Garcia fared well in the majors, especially the last three. Garcia says a change in attitude has helped him when starting late in the day on the weekend.
“Now in majors, when I have a chance or am in contention, I feel relaxed. I don’t put as much pressure on myself to win. It doesn’t mean I don’t try as hard, but I just try to let it happen,” he said.
The progress has been steady and visible, but has been a tough climb.
“It was a slow process getting confidence back. It’s never easy when you’ve struggled for a little bit to gain your confidence back quickly,” he said. “We worked on it. We got better.”
El Nino seems to have found a balance between golf and life, improving in one with changes in the other. They may have yet to produce a win, but Garcia feels that will come naturally.
“I want to try to keep going on the same line I’ve been going all year – stay positive, have a good attitude out there, do as best as I can. If my best is fifth this week, then I’ll be happy with that. If my best is 20th, I’ll be happy with that,” Garcia said.
That positive perspective comes from an increased focus on being happy in his life, which makes the grind of Tour life much easier.
“The good thing for me now is I’m where I want to be, I’m enjoying the game – which is always very, very important to me,” he said. “With those things in line, I can get to where I want to be.”