GOLF

García gives up on Masters and major title obsession

Frustration boils over after third round at Augusta blows chances of maiden victory

Sergio García reacts after a shot on the first hole during the third round of the 2012 Masters.
Sergio García reacts after a shot on the first hole during the third round of the 2012 Masters. STREETER LECKA (AFP)

Ahead of Sunday’s fourth and final round of the US Masters at Augusta, Spain’s Sergio García was ruling himself out of contention for the Green Jacket — and not just this year, but anytime in the future too.

“After 13 years, today was the day when I realized. I am not capable of winning a major,” the player who has won 22 professional tournaments and achieved a world ranking of number three. “The reality is that I am not good enough, and now I know. I have been trying for 13 years,” he added, saying it was time to just be happy with high finishes where possible.

At 32, the man known in Spain as “the kid” is still a relative youngster in golfing terms, so this apparent renunciation of major-title ambition should perhaps be treated with suspicion. His frustration was understandable though after his excellent play of Friday had evaporated, García carding a third-round 75 to slip back from five under par to just one under — a forbidding nine shots behind the overnight leader, Sweden’s Peter Hanson.

Still, it is also hardly surprising that García has grown tired of the “best player never to have won a major” title he has attracted after several notorious near-misses, particularly his second place in a playoff at the 2007 British Open after taking a sizeable lead into the final round.

At Augusta on Saturday, “El Niño” racked up three bogeys in the first four holes. But poor third rounds have been García’s bane at the US Masters, having carded his worst score on the Saturday seven times out of the nine occasions on which he has passed the mid-tournament cut. The only light moment to break the tension was when he and playing partner Rory McIlroy, on a similarly awful round, embraced ironically after both men had sunk birdie putts on the 12th.

It was an even worse Saturday for Miguel Ángel Jiménez, the veteran Spaniard shooting a 76 to go one over par. Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño ended the third round at nine over par.

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