IRVING, Texas - Sergio Garcia knew what was at stake going into the final round of the HP Byron Nelson Championship -- and that was the chance to get his career back on track. Only one shot back of the lead after a brutal third round 74, Garcia considered himself lucky to still be in the hunt on a day, when most of the field failed to gain ground on the leaders.
"I could have shot higher," he said, "but the good thing is even like this I'm one shot back tomorrow, so that's the positive."
There have been very few positives in Garcia's game over the last couple of years. After winning three years ago at the Players Championship, the Spaniard endured a drought the like of which nobody ever could have expected. It got so bad last year, in fact, that he signed up to be to help out with the Ryder Cup team ... as a vice-captain. He even contemplated walking away from the game.
Sunday at the Nelson, a tournament he won back in 2004, was his chance to wipe away the pain of the last three years. But instead of taking hold of the moment, Garcia threw it away in a final round that once again showed us that he's still not close to being the same swashbuckling Spaniard that at one time was considered to be a player on the rise.
With a 7-over 77 in the final round, Garcia not only ruined a chance to grab a spot in the US Open and British Opens fields, he wasted the opportunity for a top-5 or top-10 finish, something he certainly could have used after couple of solid finishes the last couple of weeks.
We're left to wonder, again, just where his career is headed. We see those moments of brilliance from time to time, but just when we think he's on the verge of something special, he throws up a big number that makes us shake our head and feel silly for even believing he could be the Garcia of old.
Garcia is still a good player, but he will never be a great one until he learns how to get out of his own way and quit over thinking pressure-packed situations. Like Tiger Woods, Sergio has lost his passion for the game, and until he gets that back, he'll continue to be an average player that can't close the deal.