Someone needs to hook Sergio Garcia up with Stuart Smalley pronto. The golfer who recently turned 32 has suffered through Major disappointment after Major disappointment, and this came to a head this weekend with Spanish media, when he expressed frustration after Saturday’s round and said he did not feel capable of winning a major. He confirmed that the next day.
“Everything I say, I say it because I feel it,” he said. “If I didn’t mean it, I couldn’t stand here and lie like a lot of the guys do. If I felt like I could win, I would do it.”
So what are the chances that Sergio Garcia is correct, and that he is not capable of winning a major for his entire career? Well, he needs to get his head right, but I still think he has a very good shot of winning at least one.
We don’t know how long his career will last. He could decide to retire in a few years. He could play competitively for 13 to 15 more in majors. If he plays in 40 more major tournaments (the equivalent of 10 years), then even if he has a 2% chance of winning each individual tournament, the likelihood he wins at least one major over that span is greater than 50% (56% to be exact). If we assumed a 3% chance of winning each one–a bit more of a stretch–then he should win at least one major 70% of the time over a 10 year span.
But let’s look at history. Sergio has eight Top 5 finishes in a major, including two seconds. How many guys who were “always bridesmaids” before age 32 and had multiple top 5 finishes in majors went on to never win a major title? Well, I can’t find any like Sergio. Maybe I’m missing someone, but I went through Joe Posnanski’s list of guys never to win a major here, and looked through Hall of Fame lists and can’t find anyone remotely similar who played in majors since 1960. Here’s a list of the guys with the most top 5 finishes before their 32nd birthday, without a major title:
So Sergio is tied atop the list with Crenshaw and Couples, and just ahead of Mickelson and Kite. The other guys most often considered among the best never to have won a major–Lee Westwood, Colin Montgomerie, Bruce Crampton and Steve Stricker–all had exactly two top 5 finishes before their 32nd birthday.
Golf is a mental game, and he is not going to accomplish something if he really does not have belief that he can compete. However, it was more likely frustration after another tournament of being in contention but not putting it all together. He should look to guys like Crenshaw and Kite and Mickelson and realize that eventually, if you are in contention enough, you will break through.
[photo via US Presswire]