IT HAS taken Sergio Garcia a while to get going, and yesterday his group were one of those deemed to be taking too long to get round according to the officials, who had him and his playing partner Padraig Harrington on the clock for a couple of holes.
But at least he is finally in a position to make his presence at this year’s Open known.
There wasn’t much joy in watching poor Sergio Garcia over the opening two days, with each round bordering on a voyeuristically sadistic episode. Each day he threatened something, each day things began to unravel as he approached the turn, much to the amusement of some in the crowd, who were still preoccupied with his recent ill-advised comments about Tiger Woods and fried chicken.
But yesterday, instead of simply throwing clubs at his bag in disgust or taking himself off for a quiet moment, as he had done while his playing partners holed out on the 17th on Friday, he found some resolve. It was the third day in a row he had bogeyed the par-3 eighth, but this time he bounced back with four birdies on his route back to the clubhouse.
It added up to a thoroughly decent 68 on a course which has gifted little and tortured much, and on a day where no-one could pull away from the rest of the field, he edged his way into the reckoning.
Still three over, he is on the periphery of the battle, but is aware that he could yet have a key role to play in what is his favourite major.
“Obviously I needed to do something like that today to have a slight chance. The majority of the pins were a bit more accessible. You could see that they put a little bit of water on [the course]. I think that with being a little bit overcast this morning, even though it cleared up, you could see that it was not as firm. I’m not going to say it was soft, because it wasn’t. But you were able to – if you drove the ball well, you were able to hit some good shots at it.”
There have been seven top ten finishes for the Ryder Cup player in this event over the years, the best opportunity coming at Carnoustie in 2007, but it was yesterday’s playing partner who ended that dream in a play-off that year. Yesterday, they threatened to earn themselves a penalty shot as they dallied around, a warning on the back nine forcing them to speed up.
“I felt like I was rushing quite a lot then, I even played when it wasn’t my turn, probably two or three times to try to catch up. But it’s difficult when it’s this breezy. If you’re not hitting the ball well, you have to think so many things…so it takes a little bit more time to figure out all those things.
“I think it’s difficult when you’re on the clock. It’s difficult with anybody that is struggling, because it’s always going to take a little bit more time. And it feels like you have to make up for that time a little bit. So I think we tried as hard as we could, both of us. And we managed to get back on time. So, you know, the last four or five holes were a little bit better.”
The 18th was the best of all, though, where another birdie edged him closer to the leaders and kept this year’s hopes alive.