SANDWICH, England -- When Sergio Garcia departed from Congressional CC after a T-7 in the U.S. Open, he was not qualified for the Open Championship at Royal St. George's. He'll depart St. George's with his second straight top 10 in a major.
Garcia, who had fallen out of the top 50 in the world rankings after struggling last year, punched his ticket to the 140th Open when he finished second at the BMW International in Munich, Germany. It was at once a disappointing runner-up, losing in a playoff to countryman Pablo Larrazabal. But it had its upside, giving him a chance to compete in his 47th straight major.
With a closing 2-under 68, one of the finest of the day in the gusting winds near the Cliffs of Dover, Garcia completed the championship in 2-over 282, good for a T-9 showing.
"I think the U.S. Open and Munich were very, very important because that was my last chance to get here," said Garcia, 31, who posted his seventh top 10 in the Open. "You know, I've said it over and over again, this is my favorite championship of the year. I love this tournament and I wanted to be in it. Even though I was disappointed with not winning the BMW in Munich, there was something that made me smile a little bit, which was that I knew that I was going to come here to Royal St. George's and play the Open, which was always very special."
Playing in the final round with U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy, Garcia had several special moments as he birdied four of the first seven holes to climb to even for the championship and T-7 on the leaderboard. But his hopes of climbing farther and putting up a number for the leaders to contemplate evaporated when he doubled the eighth out of the right rough.
"I knew I was even par and I knew I was five shots back. The funniest thing about it is I didn't play 8 that badly and I made double," Garcia said. "But that's what can happen here. My drive just went just a tiny bit too far right and it went down in a gully. ... But after that I think the positive is that we played well again. Before the day, if you would have given me 2â¿¿under par, I would have taken it. Obviously after being 4â¿¿under through 7 you think about it twice, but I can't be disappointed."
-- Dave Shedloski
(Photo: Scott Halleran/Getty Images)