CARNOUSTIE, SCOTLAND — After losing in a playoff at the 136th British Open, Sergio Garcia sat with his head down, hiding his eyes, waiting for his press conference to begin. The poor guy from the R&A had the unenviable task of starting the proceedings.
“There’s no easy way to say this,” the R&A press man said. “But I know you’re bitterly disappointed.”
Garcia, looking distraught, shrugged and replied: “No, I’m thrilled. Happiest man alive.”
It was the dark humor of a condemned man. He was then forced to relive the disastrous end to his week, but it was clear that all he wanted to do was get out of town and crawl into a dark corner of a dark room.
He was down on himself, but he also lamented his bad luck. As an example, he pointed to his tee shot during the playoff on the 248-yard, par-3 16th. He hit the pin but settled for par.
“It’s funny how some guys hit the pin and go to a foot; mine hits the pin and goes 20 feet away,” he said. “You know what’s the saddest thing about it? It’s not the first time, unfortunately.”
Garcia said he knew on the 18th tee during regulation that he needed a 4 to win. But the average score for the week on No. 18 was 4.611. Par was far from certain, especially with his first major title on the line.
“I knew Padraig had hit it twice in the water,” Garcia said. “I knew a par was a winner.”
Garcia complained about the delay on his second shot on 18. After what he described as a great tee shot, he had to wait to hit his approach shot while bunkers were raked.
“When you’re one in front, 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,” he said. “I wasn’t very happy about that. It seemed to take a long time, a very long time just to rake two bunkers.”
Garcia’s second shot found the left front bunker, and he left himself a 12-footer for the championship. It lipped out.
“I still don’t know how that par putt missed,” Garcia said. “I should write a book on how not to miss a shot in the playoff and shoot one over. It’s the way it is. I guess it’s not news in my life. I just have to move on and hopefully do better next time.”
For the second year in a row, Garcia played beautifully in the British Open to get himself into the final group on Sunday. For the second year in a row, he came away with his head in his hands. Last year he crumbled on Hoylake’s front nine against Tiger Woods. This time he lost to his Ryder Cup teammate Padraig Harrington.
“I don’t know how I manage to do these things,” Garcia said. “It seems to me like every time I get into this kind of position, I have no room for error. So I just have to get better, I guess. There’s nothing else I can really think about at the moment.”
Garcia has just three weeks to recover from this latest blow to his psyche. The PGA Championship begins Aug. 9 at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Okla.