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Is Sergio Garcia's Recent Hot Streak a Sign of Bigger Things to Come in 2014?

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Is Sergio Garcia's Recent Hot Streak a Sign of Bigger Things to Come in 2014?
USA TODAY Sports
Sergio Garcia could be a force to be reckoned with in 2014.

Someday, Sergio Garcia is going to make a wonderful case study on how mental and emotional stability affect a professional golfer's performance.

There may have never been a golfer so driven or derailed by events in his life as Garcia.

But that's somewhere down the road. Right now, the 34-year-old Spaniard is in a happy place in his life and has begun to produce quality golf again.

Moody, petulant, pouting, powerful, charismatic, childish. All were perfect descriptions of Garcia at different times during his 15-year professional golf career.

His third-place finish in the Players Championship last weekend appears to be another indication that his game truly is solid. It also raises the question that, as a more mature player, he might be able to fulfill some of those high expectations others have had for him.

If, as it seems, Garcia performs best when all is well in his world, he should be poised to make a strong run in 2014.

Scott Halleran/Getty Images
Sergio Garcia is smiling a lot more these days.

Garcia has a girlfriend, Katharina Boehm, who is a native of Germany and played golf at the College of Charleston. According to his friends, Garcia seems to be much more at peace, much more comfortable with himself, his surroundings and his golf game.

 "I think he's happy overall," fellow Spaniard Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano told ESPN.com's Gene Wojciechowski. "I think he has a wonderful girlfriend and he loves what he does again because not long ago he was a bit grumpy on the course and he never seemed to enjoy what he was doing."

Garcia's results would indicate Fernandez-Castano is on to something.

Garcia finished the 2013 PGA Tour season with three top-20 finishes, including a tie for ninth place in the Tour Championship. He finished off last season with a victory in an Asian Tour event, the Thailand Golf Championship.

His game obviously handled golf's brief offseason well because he came right back with a win on the third playoff hole at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters early in 2014.

Garcia's form didn't change all that much when he began his 2014 PGA Tour season. Eight starts, seven top-25 finishes, a pair of thirds and over $2 million in the bank.

It would be correct to point out that he hasn't won a PGA Tour title since the 2012 Wyndham Championship.

It's also correct to point out that Garcia has had so many near-misses on golf's biggest stages over the years that it's become something of an accepted truth that he'll never win one. He tied for fourth in the 2004 Masters, tied for third at the 2005 U.S. Open, lost in a playoff at the 2007 British Open Championship and tied for third and second, respectively, in the 2006 and 2008 PGA Championships.

In his current state of mind and golf, he could negate all of that with a major victory this summer.

The numbers he has produced to this point are rock-solid and of the quality that can make a player a mainstay near the top of the leaderboard.

According to PGATour.com, he's 12th in greens in regulation (69.66), ninth in birdie average (4.12), first in scoring average (69.484), fourth in sand saves (62.69), and third in final round scoring average (68.50).

However, those numbers are certainly no guarantee of winning, as proven by the fact that he hasn't won yet in 2014.

They do make a nice foundation for Garcia to stand on, however, as he has gotten himself into contention much more regularly in the last couple of years.

As strange as it may seem, the most important thing to Garcia climbing higher among golf's elite and maybe winning a major might very well be maintaining his good relationship with Boehm.

Stuart Franklin/Getty Images
Sergio Garcia with girlfriend, Katharina Boehm.

In 2008, Garcia was on top of the golfing world, having won the Players Championship and posted three second-place finishes. He was dating Morgan-Leigh Norman, daughter of Greg Norman, and life couldn't have been better for him.

That relationship hit the rocks in March of 2009 and so did his game. Garcia struggled for most of the next three years.

He's now ranked No. 9 in the world and seems armed with a game that should hold up under the pressure of the majors.

For Garcia, however, the most important arm in his arsenal might be the one he keeps around the waist of Boehm.

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