Twelve years after Sergio García
(below) thrilled the golf world with his blind swipe from the base of a tree at the 1999 PGA Championship, the potential everyone saw in him remains unfulfilled. Critics blame his putter, and perhaps he does too, but I have no doubt that what holds him back is not what he clutches in his hands but what goes on in his head. It doesn't so much look like doubt as it does denied privilege. With every exacerbated trill to uncooperative shots and slouch of the shoulders there is evidence of a man who thinks he is owed something by the game. Then there was the interview after his 2007 British Open playoff loss, in which he referred to a nameless, formless foe that was robbing him of his destiny.
This sense of entitlement kills hope, tenacity and any chance he has of becoming the player that he thinks he is entitled to be. Sergio, who's 31, should read the history of Ben Hogan, who fought tougher on-course difficulties before finally winning majors in his mid-30s. He should talk to Bernhard Langer, who was a far worse putter than Sergio, yet overcame the yips with attitude and perseverance. He should take note of the way Phil Mickelson turned the negative inquiries of missed opportunities into Tony Robbins moments in the media center. He should read the stories of those who overcame obstacles through, to quote Churchill, blood, toil, sweat and tears.
With 18 worldwide wins and 15 top 10s in majors, there is much to celebrate in Sergio's career, and while we have seen him play with the heart of a child, what I really want is to see him play with the head of a man.
Brandel Chamblee is a 15-year PGA Tour vet and analyst for Golf Channel.