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sergio garcia us open

Could Sergio Garcia win the US Open when we least expect it?

Sergio Garcia only earned alternate status after US Open Final Qualifying but, after being granted a spot at Pinehurst at the 11th hour, he finds himself in contention for a second major title…

 

A player with the stature of Sergio Garcia rarely finds out on the Monday of a major week that he is in the field.

Having played in the new LIV Golf League since 2022 which doesn’t qualify for world ranking points, the Spaniard has played in few tournaments that offer avenues to the majors. His victory at the 2017 Masters only bought him time in golf’s big four events for another five years (the Masters for life).

So the 44-year-old, looking to earn a place in his 25th consecutive US Open this year at Pinehurst, went to the Final Qualifying event at Dallas Atheltic Club on May 20 where he staggeringly lost in a seven-man playoff for six spots.

All wasn’t lost (as we’ve subsequently discovered) as he earned first alternate status. He was one of the last men announced in the field by the USGA earlier this week and two brutal championship days in North Carolina later, the former World No.2 is on level-par and only five shots behind leader Ludvig Aberg.

“I felt terrible after the qualifier in Dallas because I had it in my hands twice and I let it slip away,” he said on Friday. “Then obviously you know that being first reserve you have a good chance of it, but I tried – last week in Houston, I tried not to think about it because I wanted to play well last week there in Houston, and I did.

“You’re always hoping, but it was really nice to get that call on Monday morning and knowing that we were in. Just excited to be here for the 25th time in a row, and I think I made 20 out of 25 cuts or something like that. So I’m very proud of that.”

sergio garcia us open

(All images courtesy of the USGA)

Sergio Garcia: US Open is his 99th major appearance

Not only did Garcia keep up his remarkable run of consecutive US Open starts that dates back to 2000, but he is also 99 major starts down the line as well. He could require the Final Qualifying route again to play at the 152nd Open at Royal Troon unless he enters next week’s KOLON Korea Open on the Asian Tour which offers two spots for the last major of the year.

Rounds of 69 and 71 have kept Garcia hanging in contention. While many of the world’s best players, namely Scottie Scheffler, Brooks Koepka, Collin Morikawa and Matt Fitzpatrick flounder on larger numbers over par, Garcia has performed in the gritty and determined fashion that has been so crucial to his sustained success across three decades.

“You always want to be a little bit higher on the leaderboard, but I felt like – yesterday I played really well. Today I played okay. I didn’t play quite as well. Obviously the course was playing tougher, and I fought hard in the middle of the round there to keep it together.

“But I’m still in there in a great position. I’m here, I’m on the weekend. I’ve been very fortunate to play, I think this is my 99th major. But I’m realising now as I get older and you’re not automatically into all of these majors, I’m realising how hard it is to get here.”

For so long, it looked clear Garcia wouldn’t win a major despite amounting 36 professional wins on the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour. His heart developed another ache with every near miss.

One shot behind Tiger at the 1999 PGA Championship. Losing to Padraig in a playoff at the 2007 Open. Two shots behind Padraig at the 2008 PGA Championship. They stacked up, and many assumed his career would go the way of his European compatriots Colin Montgomerie and Lee Westwood, who just couldn’t get over the major line.

But he won the 2017 Masters in a playoff against Justin Rose and the relief and the near-misses visibly poured from his eyes and burst from his veins. So it would be incredible that one of the great players of his era, and one of the greatest European players ever, squeezed out one major at the peak of his powers and could win another at the twilight of his career.

There are 15 players above Garcia on the leaderboard who will equally fancy their chances. There is work to do that Garcia isn’t unaware of and there is the unenviable task of chasing the young Swede Aberg who shows the same poise and class that Garcia did when he was 24 years old.

Pinehurst has so far produced a melting pot of a leaderboard with seasoned major champions and hopefuls. For every McIlroy and Matsuyama, there is a Finau and Cantlay. And then there is Garcia who is long enough in the tooth to know the time of the day.

Ahead of an intriguing Saturday, keep your eye on the Spaniard who is far from done yet at the highest level.

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Could we see a Sergio Garcia Pinehurst victory? How much would you like to see a Sergio Garcia US Open win? Tell us on X!

Matt Chivers

Matt Chivers

Now on the wrong side of 25, Matt has been playing golf since the age of 13 and was largely inspired to take up the game by countless family members who played golf during his childhood.

Matt is a member at Royal Cinque Ports in Deal playing off a 5 handicap, just a pitching wedge away from his hometown of Dover where he went to school and grew up. He has previously been a member at Etchinghill and Walmer and Kingsdown in Kent.

Having studied history at the University of Liverpool, Matt went on to pass his NCTJ Exams in Manchester a year later to fulfil his lifelong ambition of becoming a journalist. He picked up work experience along the way at places such as the Racing Post, the Independent, Sportsbeat and the Lancashire Evening Post.

Matt joined NCG in February 2023 and is the website’s main source of tour news, features and opinion. He has reported live from events such as The Open, the Ryder Cup and The Players Championship, having also interviewed and spoken to the likes of Rory McIlroy, Tommy Fleetwood, Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell, Henrik Stenson, to name just a few.

Consuming tour golf on what is a 24/7 basis, you can come to Matt for informed views on the game and the latest updates on the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, LPGA Tour, Ladies European Tour and LIV Golf.

What’s in Matt’s bag: Cobra LTDx LS driver, Cobra LTDx 3-wood, TaylorMade P7MC irons, Ping Glide 4.0 wedges, Odyssey putter.

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