AUGUSTA, Ga. — Sergio Garcia is learning to accept life as it comes, to not get too upset when things don’t go his way.

Sounds admirable enough.

Except when one is trying to finally win a major championship that should’ve been in the trophy case years ago.

Garcia has played magnificently over his first two rounds at Augusta National – a bogey-free performance in the face of howling winds Thursday, a 3-under 69 in conditions that were still quite challenging Friday – yet there’s still a sense he has no idea what it takes to win one of golf’s biggest events.

He’ll head to the weekend with a chance to finally stamp himself as one of the greats.

But he already seems to be steeling himself for the inevitable failure.

“Having a chance is the best thing,” Garcia said, before adding, almost as an afterthought, “and winning it, I’m sure, it’s amazing.”

He talked of how fortunate he’s been to play in 70 consecutive majors, a remarkable accomplishment indeed. But it’s not what a player should be harping on when, once again, he’s in position to win one.

“I don’t even know how many there are, but so many majors in a row and giving myself a lot of chances to win them,” Garcia said, “that for me is already a win.”

That sort of attitude is a big reason why he’s managed to finish in the top 10 of a major a staggering 22 times without even once coming away with a green jacket or a claret jug or a Wanamaker Trophy or that unnamed silver prize they give to the U.S. Open champion.

Garcia isn’t just the best active player never to win a major. He’s probably the most talented player of any era to miss out on one of the titles that transform a good career into greatness.

If there’s any hope for Garcia, at least he sounds a bit more positive than he did at this same place five years ago. After shooting himself into contention the first two days, he fell back with a 75 in the third round.

In a brutal self-assessment, he declared to Spanish reporters: “I’m not good enough. In 13 years, I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to play for second or third place.”


He’s 37 now, hardly over the hill, but his head and beard are now tinged with a bit of gray. Certainly, he’s no longer a vivacious teenager bounding up the fairway after pulling off a remarkable shot from behind a tree on the way to a runner-up finish behind Tiger Woods in a memorable PGA Championship that everyone figured was a mere delaying of the inevitable.

Back in 1999, it would’ve been impossible to find anyone who doubted that Garcia would someday be a major champion. The only question seemed to be how many titles he would win.

Now, he’ll gladly take one.

Garcia was asked Friday about his 2012 meltdown, when he seemed resigned to a fate of never winning the big one.

He tried to sound more optimistic.

“I probably didn’t accept things as well as I should have,” Garcia said. “I’ve shown myself many times after that, that I can contend and I can truly feel like I can win – not only one, but more than one.”

That’s the way he needs to be thinking.

He just didn’t sound all the persuasive.