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Rediff.com  » Sports » Sergio Garcia triumphs at Sawgrass

Sergio Garcia triumphs at Sawgrass

May 12, 2008 17:46 IST

Sergio Garcia, arguably the best current player yet to win a major, enhanced his status with a playoff victory at the prestigious Players Championship on Sunday.

The Spaniard ended a week of superlative ball-striking on the challenging Stadium Course at Sawgrass by beating American Paul Goydos to the title unofficially dubbed the fifth major.

"I'm so thrilled to be here standing with the trophy," Garcia, 28, told reporters after sealing victory with a par to Goydos's double-bogey at the first extra hole.

"I think everybody feels, not only because of the field but the course and everything around it, that it feels like a major.

"It tests you like a major but unfortunately it's not. Maybe sometime in the future, it might be."

Asked whether he felt his victory could lead to a breakthrough in one of golf's four majors, Garcia replied: "I think I still had an open door before this.

"I've always said it; I have to believe in myself. I know what I can do and what I can achieve.

"Believe in myself the whole week, even when things were not going right," added the Spaniard, who has posted 13 top-10s in majors since turning professional in 1999. "That was huge."

GAME'S BEST

Garcia, who burst on to the world scene by finishing runner-up to Tiger Woods in the 1999 PGA Championship, has long been regarded as one of the best players from tee to green.

Erratic putting has often been his Achilles heel and that proved to be the case again.

Although Garcia led the 74-man field in driving accuracy and greens in regulation, he languished in 69th spot in the putting charts with an average of 31 per round.

"That's the goal is to keep getting better," the Castellon native said after claiming his seventh PGA Tour title and first in more than three years.

"The only thing this tells me is to keep working hard and to believe in myself. When I do believe in myself, I think there's not a lot of guys out there that can beat me."

Garcia, who closed with a one-under-par 71 in winds that gusted up to 65 kph, was delighted to become the first European to win the title since Britain's Sandy Lyle in 1987.

"It's been a long time since a European has won here so I'm happy to be the one this time," he said.

"It's huge for me and I'm sure it will be huge for everybody back at home."

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