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Garcia avenges near-misses with AT&T Byron Nelson title

The win was Garcia’s ninth on Tour, equaling Seve for most by a Spanish-born player

Some tournaments he’s given away. Others have been stolen from him. Perhaps you recall what Rickie Fowler did last year at THE PLAYERS Championship. Or Kevin Streelman’s record-setting seven straight birdies to finish off the Travelers Championship.

Sergio Garcia was on the wrong end of both of those occasions. 

Earlier this season he finished second again, one stroke behind Adam Scott at The Honda Classic. It was the 15th time in his PGA TOUR career that he’s been the runner-up, and the 28th time in all his starts around the world.

He seemed destined for another second Sunday at the AT&T Byron Nelson Championship…until fate finally decided to break his way in the form of two Brooks Koepka bogeys on the back nine, and an errant tee shot by Koepka that found the water on the first playoff hole. That allowed Garcia to claim his second title at TPC Four Seasons while ending his four-year drought on TOUR.

“You have to get lucky to win tournaments,” Garcia said. “Playing well usually is not enough.

“It’s nice to be on the other side of the coin.”

The win was Garcia’s ninth on TOUR, tying him with his hero Seve Ballesteros for most by a Spanish-born player. It comes 12 years after his first Byron Nelson win, when he celebrated with the great man himself. On Sunday, he celebrated with Nelson’s widow Peggy, who told Garcia her late husband was looking down on the proceedings “with a big smile and very happy.”

That drew Garcia to tears.

Seventeen years ago, Garcia made his first professional start in America in this event. He was 19 years old and took the tournament by storm, finishing tied for third.

That was the first of 11 career thirds on TOUR, and 18 overall. Combine that with his runner-up finishes, and Garcia has knocked on a lot of doors in his career. 

“Sometimes the win doesn’t come and you feel a little frustrated when you finish,” Garcia said. “It’s not easy at all.”

After a solid approach on the last hole, a few minutes later, Garcia was hugging Mrs. Nelson.

 “It’s been a very emotional week,” Garcia said. “Obviously Peggy finished it off by making me cry, which I didn’t think I was going to do.

“But it was nice to have that problem.”

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