After closing the Masters with 75--74 that left him 0 for 42 in his quest for a major championship, Sergio García (right) went on the rant of a lifetime. He questioned the fairness of Augusta National, calling it "tricky" and saying, "They can do whatever they want. It's not my problem." The incongruity was that all week his fellow pros had given nothing but rave reviews to the course setup, which had reignited the roars of excitement. Sergio sounded like a spoiled little kid. It was especially sad during a week in which his countryman and two-time Masters champion Seve Ballesteros, fighting for his life against brain cancer, had made such an emotional impact on the past champions with a personal letter read by José María Olaàbal that detailed the privilege of being a champion. No athlete is beyond making knucklehead moves with the media—I have my own long list of regrets—but you can turn such a misstep into a positive by dealing with it honestly. When you do apologize, as Sergio did two days later, don't issue a statement that sounds as if another person wrote it. (I can't recall hearing Sergio use the word iconic before.) Fans forgive those who 'fess up and take responsibility. Such contrition goes hand in hand with taking responsibility for your own game, a key to succeeding, as Kenny Perry did after just plain ol' losing the Masters. Sergio will have plenty of opportunity to make amends at the Players. If he doesn't, I can't begin to imagine how brutal the U.S. Open fans are going to be at Bethpage.
Dottie Pepper is a 17-year LPGA veteran and an analyst for NBC and Golf Channel.
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ILLUSTRATION BY KAGAN MCLEOD (PEPPER)
FRED VUICH (GARCIA)