SPAIN’S Sergio Garcia finished as the Open Championship’s runner-up for the second time in his career but insisted this near miss was a positive experience.
Seven years ago the Ryder Cup star was centimetres from winning the Claret Jug at Carnoustie only for his putt at the last to brush the edge of the hole and drop him into a play-off, which he lost to Ireland’s Padraig Harrington.
On that occasion he began the final round three shots clear of the field but, in the 143rd Open Championship at Royal Liverpool, where in 2006 he played in the last group with Tiger Woods but fell out of contention after four bogeys in his first nine holes, he began seven shots back.
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Garcia carded a six-under 66 but, despite his valiant effort, it was not enough to reel in a significant advantage held by Rory McIlroy, who went on to win his third major by two strokes.
“Everybody looks at you as second and they want to make it a negative. Not at all,” said the 34-year-old, who finished joint second with American Rickie Fowler on 15 under.
“I felt like I played well. I felt like I did almost everything I could and there was a better player. It’s as simple as that.
“You don’t have to look at other things. It’s just that simple.
“All these weeks help in majors – even if you don’t win, they still help.
“Obviously there’s some by Carl Markham negative things and obviously my bogey on 15 is not nice but I try to look at the positives.
“There’s always a lot more positives than negatives and that to me is where I want to take it.”
Graeme McDowell admitted he was envious of McIlroy after his fellow Northern Irishman’s victory.
McDowell performed impressively himself on the final day, shooting a five-under- par 67 to finish in a tie for ninth on ten under, and was frustrated not to have been challenging higher up.
The 34-year-old, winner of the US Open in 2010, told reporters: “They just asked me in there what my emotions are for Rory, as I watched him walk to the 16th tee box.
“I used the word ‘jealousy,’ but I think what I really meant was ‘envious’.
“Envious because I’d love to walk down the 18th fairway with an opportunity to win the Claret Jug.
“I’d love it to be me. It’s the greatest walk in world golf.
It’s in there inside me somewhere.
Some year it will be my year, hopefully.”
McDowell has much admiration for McIlroy’s achievement, with the 25-year-old having led at Hoylake since the end of the first round.
He said: “I have a huge amount of appreciation for what he’s doing and respect for what he is in the game of golf, and how good he is for the game of golf. So, great stuff.”
As for his own performance, McDowell regarded the week as a good opportunity to double his major tally missed.
McDowell, who wrapped up his tournament with an eagle three at the 18th hole, said: “I said at the start of the week that this venue, it was my type of venue – not super long, not a lot of advantage for the big boys to take trouble out of play, good iron play and big flat greens where I can putt well.
“These were greens that I felt I could putt well on and did putt well on. Yes, opportunity missed but could I have caught him (McIlroy)?
I don’t know.”