No majors? No worries

IAN HUTCHINSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:41 AM ET

If there is a career-defining moment in the colourful career of Sergio Garcia, it has more to do with track and field than golf, a burst of youthful exuberance from a 19-year-old who made a difficult shot from behind a tree look easy before running up the fairway with a now-famous leap to check out the finished product.

Garcia still gets asked about his sprint at the 1999 PGA Championship at Medinah.

"But not as much as I used to," said Garcia, who was at Aurora's Magna Golf Club for the Golf Town Invitational, which raised $200,000 for the battle against prostate cancer.

"It was a fun thing, just one of those things that just happened," said Garcia, who has had plenty of those moments, but this incident was as much about anticipation as it was about sheer fun.

Garcia was battling Tiger Woods, then just 23, at Medinah and even though the latter won by one shot, Garcia apparently was living up to his potential as the next great arch-rival for Woods. It hasn't worked out that way.

Tiger is all about majors and Garcia isn't, if you go by the number of wins El Nino has posted in the big ones.

He gets another shot at breaking into the win column next week at the U.S. Open, where pre-major talk quite often turns from who's going to win to who hasn't won one yet.

"I think it would mean a lot for anybody's career," said David Toms, who won a major at the 2001 PGA Championship.

"I don't care if you're an established winner or you're a new guy that's coming out or you're the guy who's tagged to win one. For anybody, it's such a mental test on a tough golf course and it's on a big stage. I think it would be big for anyone."

Especially big for Garcia, whose early promise on the European and PGA Tours makes it that much more glaring that he hasn't won a major.

Tom Kite, who didn't win his first major until he was 42, lashed out a few years ago at those who would highlight Garcia's goose egg in majors so far.

Toms, who was also at Magna last week, says that still applies, considering Garcia is just 27.

"He's one of the great, young players in the game and certainly has been there many times with a chance and I think it's just a matter of time. Look what happened to (Phil) Mickelson for so long.

"I think they need to leave (Garcia) alone. I think he's done fine and he'll get his fair share."

Garcia hardly is a stranger to the leaderboard at majors as he has recorded 13 career top-10s to go along with six regular tour victories, 10 international wins and some outstanding play and fiery leadership for the Europeans in four Ryder Cups.

Colin Montgomerie knows only too well the expectations on his Ryder Cup teammate.

With his 44th birthday on the horizon, Montgomerie has been living with his failure to win a major much longer than Garcia, but says he deals with it by accentuating the positives of his career.

Admittedly, he would love to show up as a champion the day after the U.S. Open ends for the Telus World Skins at Raven at Lora Bay near Collingwood.

A major championship could very well seal the deal on Monte's induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

"I would have liked to have won a major and will still love to win a major, but it's not the be-all and end-all," Montgomerie said. "It would be good to achieve. I've got, say four or five years left, which is 16 to 20 more majors.

"Hopefully, I'll be in contention in three or four of them and you never know."

RUNNER-UP FINISHES

Like Garcia, Monte has been so close to a major championship, but somehow couldn't reach the pinnacle, having finished as a runner-up on five occasions, including last year's U.S. Open.

Still, he has eight European Tour Orders of Merit, including seven straight in the '90s, an outstanding Ryder Cup record and other notable career achievements.

"I don't lose sleep over not winning a major," he said. "If I'd had five runner-ups in majors without other success, I might have lost more sleep over it, but I don't. I can always fall back on that if I ever get a bit down about my major record."

With age comes perspective and by not obsessing about the failure to win a major may one day lead to doing just that.

Like Garcia's sprint in 1999, it could just happen without thinking too much about it.


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