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Sergio Garcia shows he’s matured enough to contend in majors

Sergio Garcia, left, and Lee Westwood, center, on

Sergio Garcia, left, and Lee Westwood, center, on the 13th hole during the second round of the 2017 Masters Tournament on April 7, 2017, at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. Credit: EPA / TANNEN MAURY

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Marking anniversaries always is part of the Masters. Returning to the same site every year that naturally makes people remember things. In Sergio Garcia’s case, it is a matter of trying to forget.

Five years ago this week, on these same grounds, Garcia declared, “I’m not good enough for the majors.” As of Friday, after he shot 3-under-par 69 to finish at 4 under and tied for the lead, he is a different man in a different frame of mind.

“Yeah, I was frustrated. I probably didn’t accept things as well as I should have,” he said. “And I’ve shown myself many times after that that I can contend, and that I truly feel like I can win, not only one, but more than one.”

Part of the change is due to the fact he is now 37. Much of it, he acknowledged, is that he is happily engaged to former college golfer and television reporter Angela Akins. “All good things that happen to you in your life help with your profession, your job, whatever you want to call it,” he said. “For me, it’s my hobby and my job at the same time.”

Many times, it has been his drudgery and his nightmare. He has become identified by his failure to have won a major championship. Along with the time he announced he was not up to winning one, there were other times when he suggested that the fates were aligned against him.

On Friday, he took a different approach. He spoke of how lucky he is to have been healthy enough to play in so many majors. That was after he proved he still has game. Midway through his 19th tournament here, he said his rounds Thursday and Friday were the two best in his Masters career. Of his explosion from an ominously buried lie in a bunker on No. 12, he said, “That was probably, I would say, hands down the best bunker shot I ever hit.”

Of Augusta National itself, he said, “You have to get to know it and make peace with it a little bit.”

“Being a part of a major, it’s exciting already. Having a chance is the best thing. And winning it, I’m sure, it’s amazing,” said a golfer who now does not rule out the possibility.

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