HARRISON, N.Y. (AP) - Sergio Garcia made a good argument Sunday 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, beating Rory Sabbatini with a 7-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
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 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 3 feet from the hole.
"I can't complain,"
he said. "Unfortunately, I didn't get to make the putt."
Garcia had a 14 -foot birdie putt to win on the second playoff hole - the par-4 17th - but ran it 3 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 the missing a 7 -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. Garcia was the first to finish, making a 4 -footer for his second straight
4-under 67. Harrington, playing directly behind Garcia in the second-to-last group, holed a 16-foot chip from the fringe for his fourth 68, and
Sabbatini, in the final threesome, followed with a 7-foot putt for his second consecutive 70.
Garcia bogeyed the second and third holes to drop to 6 under, but climbed the leaderboard with four straight birdies on Nos. 7-10. He countered a
three-putt bogey on the 12th with a birdie on 13 and reached 11 under on the long, par-3 16th.
"I felt like if I was patient and I just kept playing my game, I could make some birdies because I've done well on this course and feel comfortable
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 in tied for
46th at 2 under.
Harrington scored well despite having swing problems all week long.
"I haven't got the ball under any control,"
he said. "It was one of those weeks you knuckle down. The last thing you want to do before a
U.S. Open is try to find a golf swing and I seem to have lost mine."