Sergio Concession Speech A Shock

Garcia struggled during the weekend at Augusta. AP photo

Sergio Garcia is done. He’s not retiring, but the mental strength required to win on the PGA has evaporated, beaten from the once creative and talented phenom who was supposed to be the sport’s next great European star. It never happened. It never will.

Following his Saturday round at Augusta, from which he dropped out of contention with a 75, Garcia told Spanish reporters that he just doesn’t have what it takes to win a major. The heir apparent to Seve Ballesteros has quit.

“I’m not good enough … I don’t have the thing I need to have,” said Garcia whose comments were translated for the Augusta Chronicle. “In 13 years I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to play for second or third place.”

Asked if it was his emotions talking, Garcia was definite.

“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. If I felt like I could win, I would do it. Unfortunately at the moment, unless I get really lucky in one of the weeks, I can’t really play much better than I played this week and I’m going to finish 13th or 15th … I’m not good enough. I had my chances and opportunities, and I wasted them. I have no more options. I wasted my options.”

One may credit his honesty. After all, he isn’t the only one in this sport or any other to just play for a paycheck. But the openness of his feelings is unprecedented, especially for a player who is still young enough (32), still talented and who has enjoyed recent success. Garcia finished second at the 2008 PGA Championship and the 2007 Open Championship.

Garcia seemed destined to stardom. He was the low-scoring amateur at the 1999 Masters, and won his first European win in his sixth professional start. Later that year, he battled Tiger Woods for the PGA Championship, finishing second after hitting one of the most famous shots in golf history, his hooking approach on 16 at Medinah. The subsequent scissor-kicking sprint up the fair-way has been highlight fodder for more than a decade. He also was the youngest ever to compete in the Ryder Cup. But somewhere along the way the legend-to-be got sidetracked, moving from legitimate Woods rival to best -to-never-win-a-major list. Now, a year younger than Masters champion Bubba Watson, he’s done something most players won’t until they’ve hit their sixth decade, admit that the game has passed him by.

So what is the former El Nino to do?

Garcia remains a draw in the Euro zone and will spend more time there every year. He’ll win sporadically – he did so twice last year in events you’ve never heard of, and will contend in other locales, but he’ll not-so-slowly fade from view, his relevance withered away. He’ll hang with his buddies like Camilo Villegas, another talent slipping out of sight, footballer Diego Forlan, tennis great Rafael Nadal and a score of hotties while enjoying the good life as only his fellow Spaniards, like Miguel Angel Jimenez, seem to do.

Unless he gets his eggs back. And if he does, he has the talent to challenge to take over the game.