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For Sergio Garcia, no more excuses

The woman moved almost at a gallop along the rope separating spectators from the Harbour Town practice range, hurrying to get close to Sergio Garcia, who was on his way to hit some balls in preparation for this week's Verizon Heritage Classic.

She was calling out to her son, who was trailing along behind her, "Dickie, it's Sergio, hurry, it's Sergio, Dickie!"

Dickie didn't make it before Sergio moved on. The woman called out, plaintively, it seemed, "Sergio," hoping, no doubt, that he would come back but Sergio didn't hear, or acted as if he didn't.

The scenario had the feel of a parable. Pro golf and its followers have been hoping, as well, that the gifted son of a Spanish teaching pro would come back to the stardom we heaped on him in his early years on the PGA Tour.

They called him El Nino then. He wore a smile and had the air of a bullfighter about him. He was one of the sparklers, a kid with maybe the best tee-to-green game out there, a flair for showmanship and a world of winning ahead. We thought.

In his second full season on the Tour, he won twice and was runnerup twice. In the next four years, he won four more times. But then the blare of the trumpets stopped. In the last four-plus years, he has won one, none since early 2008. And he is still without a major championship, although he has had several top five finishes.

Garcia has an annoying habit of blaming this or that for his failure. It was a bad bounce, a bump in the green that only he could see, the weather, his tee time, the people raking the bunkers, the butterflies raising an awful fuss off in a distant field. Anything but himself, when in truth, the blame lies between his ears and with his putter du jour.

Thurday, he tees off with Camilo Villegas and Stewart Cink in the opening round of the Verizon Heritage Classic. Excellent pairing. Great weather predicted. Golf course anyone can love. No excuses there. Maybe he'll give Dickie's mom and the rest of us something to cheer about.

It's not too late. He's only 30.

Nobody plays better or with more joy in the Ryder Cup matches than Garcia. The pressure is intense in the matches, a stern examination of a man's nerve, but he holes putts from all over the green. So he has it in him.

If he could bring that to the course this week, El Nino might be El Hombre.