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Sergio Garcia Must Win Major to Dispatch Choke-Artist Image

Fans behind Garcia couldn't believe their eyes when he hit his second shot into the water on No. 17.
Fans behind Garcia couldn't believe their eyes when he hit his second shot into the water on No. 17.Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
Jesse ReedCorrespondent IDecember 17, 2016

Forget about whether or not Tiger Woods distracted Sergio Garcia for a moment. 

Forget about whether or not Woods lied about getting permission to pull his club (h/t SI.com's Michael Bamberger). 

These are not even close to being the real issues facing the Spaniard at this point in his career. Garcia is his own worst enemy, and the only way he'll clear up his choke-artist image is by finally winning a major championship. 

In 57 previous attempts, Garcia has never won a major.

He's logged 17 top-10 finishes, which is impressive, but he's also missed 16 cuts and was disqualified at the 2007 PGA Championship after signing an incorrect scorecard.

Woods may be the biggest jerk on the planet, but he certainly had nothing to do with Garcia's epic meltdown on the final two holes of the Players Championship last Sunday. He was already on the 18th hole waiting to hit his tee shot when Garcia dropped two shots into the water.

At the time, Garcia was tied with Woods at 13-under par and had an excellent chance of beating Tiger, who made par on the final two holes. 

When this was going down, ESPN's Rick Reilly made this poignant remark:

And Garcia's latest implosion at the Players wasn't hardly the first time he's come apart at the seams in pressure situations. He has a history of melting down late in tournaments when he has a chance to win.

Back in August of 2007, Mark Reason of the Telegraph had gotten fed up not only with Garcia's penchant for failure in crunch time, but he was also sick and tired of the excuses afterwards.

Reason opened his column titled "Sergio Garcia Has Run Out of Excuses" with this: "It wasn't my fault said Sergio Garcia, it woz just a lot of bad bounces wot robbed me of the championship."

By that point in Garcia's career, he'd already developed a reputation as a choker and as a guy who never took responsibility for his late-round failure.

Nothing has changed since that time. 

The biggest win of Garcia's career was his 2008 Players Championship victory, but after that landmark win he promptly went on an epic run of late-round chokes in big tournaments. 

He hit his tee shot into the water on the 70th hole of the 2008 PGA Championship and came in second. He then lost in a playoff to Vijay Singh at the 2008 Barclays after prematurely celebrating his "win."

To cap it all off, Garcia lost to Camillo Villegas in a two-hole playoff at the 2008 Tour Championship. Villegas won the tournament by parring the two playoff holes—both of which were easy birdie holes.

If Garcia doesn't finally win a major tournament, he'll go down in the annals of PGA Tour history as the most talented player to never win one. 

Maybe he's not concerned about such a label. Maybe he's fine with being viewed as the biggest choke artist in the history of professional golf.

That said, if he's not content with this perception, he needs to stop complaining about the bounces that didn't go his way, stop making excuses for why he hit a bad shot and simply focus on making every stroke count. 

Until he proves otherwise, Garcia will be known as a man who can't perform well under pressure, as golf fan Ian Henderson so aptly points out:

Winning the U.S. Open in June would change that perception for all time.

For his sake, it would be nice to see Garcia finally get this monkey off his back. 

 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78 

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