Garcia (68) in familiar position at British Open

HOYLAKE, England – If Sergio Garcia is going to win a major championship this would be the one you’d think he could collect.

Not, particularly, here at Royal Liverpool, but the British Open in general. In 17 previous starts, Garcia has seven top-10 finishes. He has 11 top-10s in the other three majors combined.

You get the point.

At 34, Garcia remains in the conversation for best player never to have won a major. He’s been knocking on the door year-after-year, basically since he went toe-to-toe with Tiger Woods at the 1999 PGA Championship,

Many remember the 2007 Open at Carnoustie, Garcia’s closest call in a major championship that ended with a playoff loss to Padraig Harringon. But the year before was here at Hoylake and Garcia trailed Woods by a shot heading into the final round. He shot 73 and tied for fifth place, but he has good vibes around this track even though it doesn’t necessarily resemble the quick, brown, crispy conditions of eight years ago.

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Garcia shot a smooth first-round 4-under 68 Thursday and is only two shots behind Rory McIlroy. He made five birdies and a lone bogey and never put serious strain on himself during the morning.

“I think with experiences you have, you try to kind of ease up a little bit,” Garcia said. “At the end of the day I realize that I’m out there trying to do my best. Obviously some days I feel it better than others. But if I’m doing my best I can’t ask myself for anything else.”

It’s a refreshing attitude to see from a man who has often been at odds with major championships. He’s insisted in the past that the golf gods hate him, and he has said that he’s not fond of Augusta National, home of the Masters. But all of that appears in the past, at least for now.

“There’s so many things that can happen out there,” Garcia said. “It would be nice to put myself in a position to have a solid chance on Sunday, like I did a couple times, and like I did in 2006 here. But, still, it’s only the first day.”

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