2004 Buick Classic
One month after the Nelson, and one week before the U.S. Open was to be played at Shinnecock, Garcia returned to the Westchester Country Club, site of his 2001 victory, for a second bid at the Buick title. Despite being scheduled in the shadow of the Open, the event drew a solid field including Masters champion Mickelson, Singh, Davis Love III and Ernie Els.
Garcia’s unremarkable opening 70 left him seven shots behind Singh in a multi-player tie for 45th. But he got a break when Singh managed nothing better than 70 and 71 over the next two rounds. When Garcia shot 67 and 68, he stood seventh, just three shots behind co-leaders Rory Sabbatini and Cameron Beckman entering final round play.
It was a substantial hill, but Garcia had surmounted higher ones. This time he closed with a 67 to forge a three-way tie with Sabbatini and Padraig Harrington. In the playoff, Harrington fell out on the second hole and Garcia polished off Sabbatini with a seven-foot birdie putt on the third hole.
Sportswriters were already calling him “the best player never to have won a major.” Garcia looked forward to ditching that label one week later.
“I’m really looking forward to the Open,” he said, adding, “I’ve just got to keep doing the things I’ve been doing.”