Sergio Garcia Still Can't Conquer Greatest Nemesis—Himself

Ben GibsonSenior Analyst IAugust 12, 2008

Call me crazy, but I don't think Ryder Cup captain Nick Faldo should be pairing Sergio Garcia and Padraig Harrington together any time soon.

Garcia had a front row seat as Padraig Harrington claimed his second straight major, and third for his career, on Sunday at Oakland Hills.

With three majors, the Irishman has equaled the total of Tiger's "rivals" like Phil Mickelson, Vijay Singh, and Ernie Els.  Harrington saw his career shift in a matter of two years from that of a very good European player to that of the biggest European star since Seve Ballesteros.

Of course, we all expected the Spaniard Garcia to follow in the footsteps of his idol Seve and continue the "Summer of España" in sports.  For the second straight year that elusive major championship victory has been claimed by Harrington instead of the 28-year-old, who must still face the wrath of the media as the best player in the world not to have won a major.

Garcia may not have liked the result on Sunday, but don't blame Harrington. Garcia will never win a major until he faces his greatest adversary: himself.

Garcia is an amazing player and ball-striker who captured the world's heart with a hop, skip, and a jump in the 1999 PGA Championship at Medinah.

That second place finish behind Tiger Woods put him on the map and since then Garcia has gone through some serious ups and downs.

Garcia got the waggles in the early 21st century, receiving a great deal of criticism for his prolonged pre-shot routine.  He was heckled at Beth Page Black in 2002 and it left him visibly frustrated.

Still, he worked it out.

Then there was that regrettable fashion choice he made paired alongside Tiger Woods in the final round of the 2006 British Open. 

The closing round of 73, eight shots worse than the day before, had people believing Garcia had shown the world his true colors: yellow.

Then Garcia turned heads by defeating journeyman Paul Goydos in a playoff to win the Players' Championship and many believed this would be the turning point.  The "new" Sergio was finally going to get the job done.

Well in all these years, two things have stayed constant for Garcia. 

The first constant is his woeful putting. 

Garcia has yipped his way out of contention before, but not on Sunday.  Garcia was making clutch putts all over the place, putting the pressure on his competitors until a tugged seven-iron on 16 went in the water and cost him sole possession of the lead.

Still, after another close loss to Harrington we saw the other constant in Garcia's repertoire: whining.

"I felt like I responded well and [Harrington] was obviously very good on the back nine and things just happened his way. There's guys that get a little bit fortunate," Garcia said.

Fortune is one thing, but there is not much lady luck can do when you hit a shot into the drink.  Well...unless you're Moses.

Garcia commented on how Harrington got a wonderful lie in the green-side bunker on 18 while his shot was far less lucky.  Obviously the golfing Gods are against him.

This could just be discounted as sour grapes if we had not heard similar things back in the 2007 Open Championship when Garcia had a putt on the 72nd hole for the win that just lipped out. 

"It's not the first time, unfortunately," Garcia stated. "I don't know...I'm playing against a lot of guys out there, more than the field."

Who else are you exactly fighting, Sergio, besides yourself?

Garcia had a similar moment in both of these near misses in which a shot hit the pin and rolled away from the flag stick.  Though Garcia reacted better to the situation in 2008 at the time, he still missed the putt and proved he has not learned to take responsibility for his actions.

There is no higher being saying that Garcia must be given bad luck at every turn.  It's this "woe is me" attitude that will keep Garcia from winning.  I think we all agree that he has more than enough talent to win.  I even know he has the mental toughness to handle difficult situations when you look at his stellar Ryder Cup record.

Garcia has been unbeatable in September. His problem is just finding ways to bring that tenacity into the summer.

If Garcia can take responsibility for his missed opportunities, then he will be in a much better state of mind to win a major and let the flood gates open. He might even give Harrington a taste of his own medicine.

Until then, I suggest you watch some Greg Norman highlights and truly see a snake-bitten golfer.