Commentary

Sergio Garcia doesn't trust success

Updated: April 12, 2013, 1:16 AM ET
By Rick Reilly | ESPN.com

 Sergio GarciaJewel Samad/AFP/Getty ImagesSergio Garcia showed little joy for a man sharing the lead after the first day at the Masters.
People, you're going at life all wrong. Do not try, try again. Try a few times and then go back to your room and mope. Set the bar low and then slink under it. The key to success is being positive ... that it will never happen to you.
          
Take, for instance Sergio Garcia, the Sulking Spaniard. He is a man who does not see a glass half full. He sees a glass that someone will soon pick up and crack over his skull.
          
Take last year at the Masters, for instance. Garcia shot himself out of it with a Saturday 75 and then announced to the world he was done trying.
          
"I'm not good enough," he said that day. "I don't have the thing I need to have. In 13 years [as a pro], I've come to the conclusion that I need to play for second or third place. I have no more options. I wasted my options. ... Tell me something I can do."
          
And yet?
          
If you check your favorite sports website this morning, you'll see that this same Sergio Garcia, the Eeyore of golf, has a share of the lead at this 2013 Masters after a brilliant 6-under 66 Thursday.
          
It won't be easy playing for third place from first, but if anybody can do it, it's Garcia. 
          
"This is obviously not my favorite place -- my most favorite place, that is," he said afterward. "We try to enjoy it as much as we can. Sometimes it comes out better than others. Today it was one of those good days. Let's enjoy it while it lasts."
          
Hey, Sergio, can you come speak at my Pessimists' Club meeting?
          
Look at him, would you? The man just shot 66 and he looks like he just shot 86. He has all the joy of a mortician whose hearse just ran over his own dog. His next smile is scheduled for Aug. 13.
          
I don't know where the happy, jumping-off-the-golf-cart, 19-year-old Sergio went, but what we're left with now is the waiting-for-a-Steinway-to-fall-on-his-head Sergio.
          
"That's the beautiful [thing] about being 19," he reminisced recently, at 33. "When you are 19 or 15 or 12, you don't think. You just go out there and you don't think and you let it fly and there isn't a worry in the world. ... And then, as the years go by and you've been hit with disappointments and they start to wear down on you, you start thinking too much. Back then, the world was right in front of me."
          
Wow. Anybody got a Xanax?
          
[+] EnlargeSergio Garcia
Jamie Squire/Getty ImagesAs a 19-year-old pro giving Tiger Woods a run for his money, no one expected Sergio Garcia to struggle so much in the future.
Garcia had so much promise. They called him The Kid. He was the low amateur at his first Masters. He was a pro by 19. Youngest ever to play in a Ryder Cup. Now he's 0-for-57 in majors.
         
And he knows what happened. Somewhere along the way, the cosmos decided to ruin his life. Golf grew biased against him. 
          
At Bethpage in 2002, USGA officials refused to suspend a rain-soaked round simply to spite him. Afterward, he railed that they'd have stopped play if Tiger Woods had been out there.
          
Fans tormented him. At that same Bethpage, they counted his waggles (27, once) and chanted, "Hit it, Sergio!"
          
Flagsticks mocked him. At Carnoustie in 2007, his playoff shot to the par-3 16th hit the stick and bounced 20 feet away from the hole. "I'm playing against a lot of guys out there," Garcia concluded, darkly, afterward. "... More than the field." 
          
Don't you see? Even the unseen want him to suffer!
          
Love has abandoned him. In his 20s, he was in a long relationship with the daughter of Greg Norman, Morgan-Leigh. But they split up and he has yet to marry. In a Masters loaded with attending celebrity girlfriends -- Lindsey Vonn (Tiger Woods), Caroline Wozniacki (Rory McIlroy) and Paulina Gretzky (Dustin Johnson) -- can you image how heavy his heart must lie?
          
Even trees are out to get him. 
          
At Bay Hill in March, he hit a shot into a tree on the 10th hole, climbed up it, hit the shot and jumped out, injuring himself and withdrawing two holes later.
No wonder he is an empty vessel bereft of hope bobbing on an unlit sea. 
          
Even after his Thursday 66, he was talking about probably having to "scramble" back up a leaderboard later in the week, a leaderboard his name sits atop now.
          
He's probably right, of course. He's had two first-round leads in majors before ('99 PGA, '07 British) and lost them both (Woods, Padraig Harrington). He's never really played well at Augusta before this. In 14 tries at the green jacket, he has only two top-10 finishes.
          
Sergio knows. He feels it. Heartache is coming for him.
          
In fact, it makes you wonder. How did he get away with such a wonderful, bogey-free round Thursday without destiny smiting him down?
          
The answer: He, Dustin Johnson and Jason Day all wore the exact same shirt Thursday.
          
God couldn't find him.

Rick Reilly | email

Columnist, ESPN.com