It was only five years ago that Sergio Garcia was so down on himself and his abilities that he was ready to throw in the towel where major championships were concerned.
“I'm not good enough ... I don't have the thing I need to have,” Garcia told the Spanish-speaking media at Augusta National after shooting himself out of the Masters in 2012 with a third-round 75. “In 13 years I've come to the conclusion that I need to play for second or third place.”
Garcia was asked if he meant in the Masters, and replied: “In any major.”
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In April, he tossed aside his own despair and lack of self-belief to win the Masters for his first major championship at age 37. He will be paired for the first two rounds of the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow with the other two major winners this year – Brooks Koepka, who won the U.S. Open, and Jordan Spieth, the Open Championship winner.
He knows that regardless of this week’s outcome in Charlotte, no one can take the Masters from him.
“Well, you do think about that,” Garcia said. “You do think whatever happens, I've already won the Masters, and it's amazing.
“But at the same time, it doesn't mean that you're not going to go out there and try as hard as you can, because that's what we do. That's the only way we know how to play. And if I didn't care, then I wouldn't get angry when I don't play the way I want to.
“So you do have that in the back of your mind, feeling like, you know, obviously I've already achieved something amazing this year. But at the same time, you still want to go out there and play the way you know how to play and contend and have another shot at it.”
That said, Garcia has spent the time since April at Augusta with a Masters hangover of sorts. In six PGA Tour events since the Masters, his best finish has been a tie for 12th at the Dean and Deluca Invitational at Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas.
And he had another life-changing event at the end of July when he married Angela Akins. But he doesn’t use that as an excuse. “We’re here to play golf,” Garcia said when asked about the wedding.
“Obviously I'm not coming in with the best momentum in the world right now, but we are going to go out there and hopefully be as committed as possible, be confident out there, and hit some good shots,” Garcia said. “Because the way the course is playing right now, we're going to need it.
“There's a lot of 5- and 4-irons into some of these greens, which are very difficult to hit it close and some of them hold. It's going to be a test for sure.”
Garcia nearly won at Quail Hollow at the Wachovia Championship in 2005. He lost in a three-man playoff won by Vijay Singh. However, he had a six-shot lead entering the final round and squandered it. He doesn’t look at Quail Hollow the same way.
“The course is totally different now,” Garcia said. “There's obviously four or five holes that kind of play similar, but pretty much I haven't played here probably in the last five or six years or so (actually last played at Quail in 2013, when he tied for 16th).
“You know, it's a different golf course. It's much longer, different looks. A couple different holes here and there. So it definitely doesn't feel like the Quail Hollow that we used to come and play.”