Sergio Garcia made a good argument yesterday that he's the best player never to win a major championship, a backhanded compliment that he might not have to worry about for long.
The 24-year-old Spanish star warmed up for the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills with a playoff victory in the Buick Classic, his second extra-hole win in five weeks.
"I'm really looking forward to next week," Garcia said. "I just hope to ride that momentum to next week and hopefully get it going there and give myself a chance on the back nine on Sunday. That's all you can ask for.
"I've just got to keep doing the things I've been doing and hopefully I will win one soon. I think it's just a matter of time."
Garcia won the fifth playoff in the last seven years on the Westchester Country Club course in Harrison, N.Y., beating Rory Sabbatini with a seven-foot birdie putt on the third hole. Padraig Harrington was eliminated on the second extra hole.
Garcia, who beat Dudley Hart and Robert Damron last month on the first playoff hole in the Byron Nelson Championship, earned $945,000 for his fifth PGA Tour victory and second in four years on the Westchester course. He improved to 3-1 in playoffs.
"I've been fortunate enough to do pretty well in playoffs, not only here but also around the world," Garcia said. "I feel pretty comfortable in them."
He set up his winning putt on the par-5 18th with a 90-yard wedge shot, after Sabbatini's 70-yard third shot failed to reach the upper level of the green and rolled 21 feet below the hole.
"I thought, 'Oh, man, this is going to be perfect, it's going to get over the crest of the hill, and it's going to trickle over the other side,' " Sabbatini said. "When I saw it go down, it was a bit of a surprise and a bit of a disappointment."
The South African's birdie putt finished three feet from the hole.
"I can't complain," he said. "Unfortunately, I didn't get to make the putt."
Garcia had a 141/2-foot birdie putt to win on the second playoff hole -- the par-4 17th -- but ran it three feet past.
Harrington, an eight-time winner on the European tour who is winless on the PGA Tour, dropped out with a bogey on the second extra hole after missing a 71/2-foot birdie putt to win on the first hole -- the 18th.
"It just straightened out a little bit at the hole and just missed on the high side," the Irish star said. "It was a pity."
All three players birdied the 18th in regulation to finish at 12-under 272.
Fred Couples (68), Vijay Singh (70) and Tom Byrum (71) tied for fourth, two strokes back. Luke Donald (72) was another stroke back, and Fredrik Jacobson (69) followed at 8 under. Kenny Perry had the best round of the day, a 66 to top a five-player group at 7 under. He began the day tied for 46th at 2 under.
* CHAMPIONS TOUR: Allen Doyle was declared the winner of the rain-shortened Bayer Advantage Celebrity Pro-Am in Parkville, Mo., after thunderstorms swept through the area the night before, making the course unplayable.
Doyle shot a 6-under 66 Saturday to reach 13-under 131, beating Jerry Pate by one stroke.
It was Doyle's first win on the Champions Tour since winning the FleetBoston Classic last August.
"I'm thrilled to have won another golf tournament," Doyle said. "My name is on the trophy."
* CURTIS CUP: In Formby, England, Michelle Wie helped the United States retain the title with a 10-8 victory over Britain and Ireland.
The Americans have won four straight and 24 overall in the biennial amateur competition, which has been played 33 times.
Wie, 14, beat Nicola Timmins, 6 and 5, to give the United States a 7-6 lead. Wie, the youngest player in Curtis Cup history, is part of a U.S. team that doesn't have a player over 22.
Paula Creamer won her singles match, Jane Park lost hers, then Elizabeth Janangelo beat Shelley McKevitt, 1 up, to give the United States an insurmountable 9-7 lead.