Sergio Garcia’s career will forever be defined by his record in majors.
Forget that the 37-year-old Spaniard has nine career PGA Tour wins, including the 2008 Players Championship. Forget that he has 12 European Tour wins. Forget that he’s pulled in about $70 million in career winnings between the two of them.
Garcia will be either be remembered as one of the best golfers who couldn’t get it done on the biggest stage, or as someone who persevered when many doubted him.
Heading into the 2017 Masters, Garcia had started 73 major tournaments without a win. That’s the third-most in history since 1934:
Of those 73 starts (54 cuts made), he has tallied 22 Top-10 finishes, 12 Top-5 finishes, and four runner-ups. When he was doing things like this at age 19, it seemed it was only a matter of time before he would break through and establish an all-time great rivalry with Tiger Woods:
But while he’s be in contention often, and the talent has always been there, his confidence has not been. After shooting a 75 on Saturday at the 2012 Masters, effectively taking him out of contention, he famously summed up what all the critics were already thinking.
“That’s the reality. I’m not good enough and today I know it. I’ve been trying for 13 years and I don’t feel capable of winning,” he said. “I don’t know what happened to me. Maybe it’s something psychological. … After 13 years, my chances are over. I’m not good enough for the majors. That’s it.”
In 2017, though, Garcia looks like a changed man. He has a new fiancee, and finding that stability off the course has him brimming with confidence on it. He still has the talent he has always had, but now he clearly has the mental game to go with it. While bad breaks would have killed him in the past, he has remained calm and collected throughout the week and sits right in the thick of contention for the Green Jacket.
Garcia ending his major drought at Augusta–a place in which he has just one Top-5 in 18 starts–would be the perfect embodiment of the career-180 he has seemingly undergone over the last year. And even if he doesn’t ultimately get it done, he looks ready to win one soon.