Garcia's streak of majors in jeopardy
Time is running out for Sergio Garcia.
The one-time wunderkind has played in 47 consecutive major championships, but that streak is in peril as he plays this week in the HP Byron Nelson Championship at TPC Four Seasons Resort Las Colinas in Irving, Texas.
The first of two deadlines for being in the top 50 in the World Golf Ranking — and thus automatically be qualified for the US Open at Congressional — is Monday. Garcia, No. 2 as recently as 2009, is No. 73.
The final deadline is June 13.
It clearly was on his mind a month ago, but he has tried to downplay his efforts to keep the streak alive.
"Four good weeks, get into the US Open and move on from there," the 31-year-old Garcia said at the Wells Fargo Championship earlier this month, where he tied for 28th before tying for 12th in the Players Championship and tying for 16th in the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial the following two weeks.
". . . I don't care about the streak. I don't care about records and things like that. I worry about enjoying it and doing what I love and doing the best I can. I'm not going to look back when I'm 55 and say I should have tried to play 100 in a row instead of 99."
Of course, there is another way for Garcia to possibly make it into the field at Congressional, but it seems he would have to swallow considerable pride to go that route. He does not appear to be interested in entering a 36-hole qualifier on June 6.
"I don't think so," Garcia said, which is interesting because he entered a 36-hole international qualifier Monday in Texas for the British Open in July at Royal St. George's (he withdrew from the qualifier, citing an infected fingernail). "If I don't qualify (for the US Open through the rankings), then I don't deserve to play."
That simply might be his way of keeping his concentration on the task at hand and finishing among the leaders this week at Las Colinas, where he claimed the title in 2004.
Instead of using that as a positive, however, he slips into the pessimism that has infiltrated his demeanor, which once bordered on cockiness.
"The past is the past," said Garcia, whose only top-10 finish in six tournaments on the PGA Tour this season was solo eighth in March's Arnold Palmer Invitational.
"When I get on the first tee and say, 'I won here two years ago, three years ago,' they are not going to say, 'OK, we give you a 67.' It doesn't work that way, unfortunately."
Garcia didn't finish in the top 10 in any of his 14 stroke-play events on the PGA Tour last season. His best result was a solo fourth in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championships.
After failing to make the European Ryder Cup team and merely serving as a vice captain and cheerleader at Celtic Manor, he went home to Borriol, Spain, and took 10 weeks away from the game.
The results have been better this year, but he's not close to being the player he once was.
"I've said all year long, it's a work in progress," said Garcia, whose last victory on the PGA Tour was the biggest of his career, the 2008 Players Championship.
"It's building up. Any good round helps. I'm trying to get things the right way for four rounds. There have been a lot of good things."
And some bad. Although his scoring average of 69.50 before the cut ranks seventh on the PGA Tour this season, Garcia has been unable to make things happen on the weekend.
When he closed with a 7-under-par 65 in the Players two weekends ago, it was the first time he had broken 70 in 10 rounds on the weekend this season on the US tour.
"Yeah, I definitely think today was a nice round," he told reporters after posting the best score of the final round at TPC Sawgrass. "But I don't know. It's kind of been like that for the past three months or so. I've been saying that I'm feeling better. I'm definitely hitting the ball better. Unfortunately, nothing's been happening on the weekend. I've had some rounds where I played really well and I shot 2 under and I'm moving back.
"But today finally things seemed to happen a little bit. I played nicely, I hit some good shots and rolled some good putts in. . . . Yeah, it was a nice, positive way to finish a tournament."
While he claims his confidence is higher this season, it seems he really could use an injection of it. You have to wonder where he goes from here.
Garcia qualified for the Masters only because he had won the Players within the past three years, and he failed to make the field for the first two World Golf Championships events of the season.
All he needs is one big finish to qualify for the three Grand Slam events of the summer, but whether he has it in him at this point is anybody's guess.
For years, Garcia was known as the best player never to win a major, but at the next one he might simply be the best player not playing.