Garcia not fussed if he never wins a golf major
Sergio Garcia confesses his golf career will be complete even without the one glaring omission, a major championship.
Garcia returns to competition at the BMW International Open starting on Thursday in Cologne after finishing tied for 38th in last week's U.S. Open in San Francisco.
It was Garcia's 55th appearance in a major since his debut at the 1996 British Open as the Spanish Under-16, Under-18 and Under-21 Amateur champion.
Garcia has been runner-up three times in majors, firstly as a youthful 19-year-old in his first U.S. PGA Championship in 1999. Eight years later at the 2007 British Open, Garcia stood in the middle of the final fairway and in the last group at Carnoustie with victory virtually in hand only to lose out to Padraig Harrington in a playoff.
Harrington again denied Garcia 13 months later at the 2008 U.S. PGA Championship.
Garcia, along with a handful of players including Lee Westwood, Colin Montgomerie and Adam Scott remains one of the best players not to win a major.
But Garcia says it's not a concern.
''If I don't have a major, what can I do?'' he said. ''I'm not going to take my life because I don't win a major. Fortunately I have a lot of other things that maybe some of those guys who have won majors don't have.
''Many things, many friends, many other hobbies that make me happy. So you know, some guys need to win a major, some guys don't.''
Garcia's next major will be the British Open in a month at Royal Lytham and St. Annes, a special venue for the Spaniard.
''I've played Royal Lytham twice before, once as an amateur and once as a professional,'' he said. ''There are a lot of things that come to mind. In `96 I played practice rounds with Seve (Ballesteros), which was amazing as a 16-year-old playing my first British Open.
''I played really well that year but unfortunately didn't make the cut. But in 2001, I finished ninth, which was nice.
''But I just love the British Open. I love the people that come to watch the British Open. I love the golf courses and the challenges that it provides, and that's why it is my favorite tournament.''
Garcia tees up on the Gut Larcenhof course outside Cologne with fond memories of having captured the 1999 German Masters on the same course.
It was his second victory in his debut season and in only his 12th European Tour event after capturing the Irish Open in his seventh appearance.
Joining Garcia is Martin Kaymer, the highest ranked player in the field at No. 13 and coming off a share of 15th in San Francisco.
Kaymer spent his childhood at the Cologne course chasing autographs from the likes of three-time major winners Ernie Els and Padraig Harrington.
''The first time I came here in the late `90s, I was waiting for players to coming off the 18th green looking for autographs or hats or gloves or something,'' he said.
''I always wanted Padraig Harrington's autograph and I got it on a Saturday of the tournament, and a glove from Ernie Els.
''Then I played a junior tournament, and I wore the glove only for the first hole as it was too big.
''But I don't think Ernie will remember, even though he was always my biggest role model, and it was so cool and so nice to get his glove. It was fantastic even though I don't have it anymore.''
Kaymer won the BMW International Open in emotional circumstances in 2008 with his mother seriously ill. She died a few weeks after his success.
Another returning former champion, John Daly, captured the only remaining German event on the tour in 2001.
The 45-year-old Daly, a double major winner, arrived in Cologne ''more at ease'' with his life.
''I wish my mind was like it is now than compared to the `90s,'' he said. ''My mind wasn't good back then but my mind's good now. It's just that my game's not so good.
''Maybe when I am 60 I'll get it right.''