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Proof Positive

Sergio Garcia during playoff British Open
Carl De Souza/AFP/Getty Images
"I just have to move on and hopefully do better next time," Garcia said.
"It's funny," he started. "It's funny how some guys hit the pin and go to a foot. Mine hits the pin and goes 20 feet away."

Garcia, 27, rarely faults himself for his failures, not when he disappeared while playing in the last group of the 2002 U.S. Open, not when he faded in the final pairing of the 2006 British, both times with Tiger Woods. It's as if Lemony Snicket is giving Garcia's press conferences, expounding to the media on the latest Series of Unfortunate Events. And so a scribe, happy to play along, asked, "It's just not meant to be?"

"You know what's the saddest thing about it? It's not the first time," Garcia said. "It's not the first time, unfortunately. So, I don't know, I'm playing against a lot of guys out there, more than the field."

What guys, exactly? Garcia didn't say, and it was left to Gary Player to someday explain things to everyone, the same way he'd illuminated the world's scribes on golf's underground war on drugs earlier in the week.

Garcia wasn't finished. He'd had a chance to finish off the tournament and seize the claret jug on the last hole of regulation. But after hitting an iron to the fairway, he had to wait to hit his second shot, a 3-iron from 250 yards that had to go over the Barry Burn and avoid the trouble left and right. Chris DiMarco and Paul McGinley were struggling in the group ahead, DiMarco making double-bogey and McGinley bogey to finish with 75 and 73, respectively.

"When you're one in front," Garcia said, "hitting a 3-iron into a green where there's danger everywhere, having to wait at least 15 minutes to hit your shot doesn't help."

In fact the wait was no longer than five minutes, but the truth hardly mattered. All those putts that didn't go in the hole in the playoff?

"They all touched the hole," Garcia said.

He couldn't even leave his successes alone: "The birdie I made on 3, I made out of a divot in the fairway," he said.

Bob Rotella, who has made his name as a psychologist to the stars of golf, followed the playoff on foot with everyone else because Harrington is one of his clients. The 35-year-old Dubliner's belief in himself never wavered, he said, even when he'd made a complete mess of the 18th hole in regulation.

He's never liked the hole. He lost a match in the 1992 British Amateur there when he went out of bounds left from the fairway. He said he didn't want to leave too long an approach, which is why he hit driver in regulation. That drive went off a bridge and into the serpentine water hazard, but Harrington still did not give up.

"I never let myself feel like I'd lost the Open championship as I sat watching [Garcia finish on TV]," Harrington said. "The one thing, I never, ever had it in my head that I'd lost. Now if Sergio had parred the last and I did lose, I think I would have struggled to come out and be a competitive golfer. It meant that much to me. But I never let it sink into me that I had just thrown away the Open championship on the 18th."

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