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A kinder, gentler Sergio Garcia insists at LIV Golf event that he’s ‘happy’ for PGA Tour, won’t take swipes at Rory McIlroy

MARANA, Ariz. — A kinder, more gentle Sergio Garcia showed up at the Gallery Golf Club last weekend, resisting the urge to take a swipe at Rory McIlroy or anyone else on the PGA Tour.

“Everybody has an opinion,” Garcia said on his way to another top 10 finish on the LIV Tour. “Obviously everyone is going to talk. At the end of the day, we’re very happy where we are. We love the product. You just have to see what’s going on out here. So just go and ask them.”

This is the man who famously was caught on a TV camera saying he “can’t wait to leave this tour” at last year’s Wells Fargo Championship when a ruling didn’t go the way he wanted. He also said his one-time bestie, McIlroy, lacked maturity when McIlroy removed Garcia’s number from his phone after receiving an angry text. Despite all that, he did not take the bait.

Sergio, who joined LIV Golf last summer, even complimented the Tour after recent changes led to designated no-cut events with limited fields and increased purses.

Sound familiar?

“I’m happy about what’s happening on the PGA Tour because I have a lot of friends there and they deserve to get everything that they’re getting,” he said. “And I’m happy for them.”

This does not mean friendships will be repaired, even those with a man (McIlroy) who was the best man at his wedding. But Garcia certainly now appears to be taking the high road.

Perhaps he’s softening? Or maybe Garcia is just tired of the bickering and rhetoric from the two commissioners on down to the players on both tours?

Eugenio Chacarra of Fireballs GC and Captain Sergio Garcia of Fireballs GC wait on the 18th hole during the final round of the LIV Golf Tucson at the Gallery Golf Club on Sunday, Mar. 19, 2023, in Tucson, Arizona. (Photo by Montana Pritchard/LIV Golf)

Or maybe it’s just that he is playing better.

Garcia recorded his fifth top-10 finish in seven LIV events Sunday with a T6 at LIV Tucson. He was 7-under 206 for the 54-hole event at Gallery Golf Club, closing with a 73 Sunday.

Garcia’s top 10s equals the number he had in his last 42 PGA Tour events.

But it could have ended so much better. Garcia entered Sunday alone in second place, two shots off the lead. But three bogeys on his front nine had him teetering in the top 10. He secured his spot with a birdie on 16.

More satisfying was captain Garcia celebrating on the 18th green with Fireballs teammates after winning the team championship. Carlos Ortiz led the four-man team this week with a 65 on Sunday and finished 9-under, landing him in the four-man playoff for the individual title won by Danny Lee on the third playoff hole.

Ortiz finished tied for second after a bogey on the first playoff hole.

“Great to get that team win,” Garcia said. “I would have loved to play better. Unbelievable for Carlos to play in those conditions.”

Garcia never got comfortable Sunday, calling it “one of those days.”

“I wasn’t feeling it,” he said. “Because of that I wasn’t confident.”

The putter, which pushed him to the top Saturday, was not as strong as the first two days.

Garcia’s driving and ball striking never has been questioned. But his putting has been such an issue that the last three weeks he messed around with his grip while practicing at home in Orlando. On Sunday, he was using the claw grip.

This is a man who once broke a putter during the Dell Technologies Championship in 2017 forcing him to make a 13-footer for birdie with his 3-wood. In 2016, he five-putted from 8 feet at The Players Championship.

And after equaling the low round of the day Saturday (66), he said after working on his putting the last year and a half, “it feels much better.” He lost that feeling somewhat Sunday.

“Disappointing,” Garcia said. “It feels like it could have been a good opportunity to at least be in the playoff.”

Still, he was on the podium with his team.

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