Sergio Garcia’s wait for a major championship is set to continue, despite an impressive showing after 54 holes of the British Open.
The Spaniard’s form around Hoylake has been admirable and in many other majors may have been enough to be in contention, but he has been trumped by the brilliance of Rory McIroy.
The Northern Irishman is seven shots clear of Garcia and six ahead of his nearest challenger, Rickie Fowler.
Now, even the man who many say is the greatest player never to win a major openly admits that his wait is set to continue.
“Obviously, if Rory [McIlroy] wasn't 16-under par, it would be really, really tight," he told reporters.
"If Rory plays the way he has been playing it is difficult to see any way to catch him. If he shoots three under I have to shoot 10 [under]. It is an Open Championship and no-one's done it before so it's not that easy.
"If he plays the par fives well like he did today it is going to be tough as even though he started slowly he really got going on the back nine."
McIlroy made two eagles on the final two par fives on Saturday and if he does similar again tomorrow then the title is all but his.
No player has let a six shot lead in a major slip since Greg Norman did so in 1996 and the chances of McIlroy doing so look slim.
Even so, Garcia’s tournament has to be considered a success. He has only finished in the top ten at the Open once in the eleven he has competed in and the fact that he is back competing at the right end of the leaderboard must be encouragement that Garcia can challenge again.
In 2008, Garcia said that he wasn’t good enough to win a major before quickly refuting his own claim but, although it is too early to say that time is running out on his career ambition, the years are ticking away.
Time ticking away
Garcia is 34 now and the once top young talent in golf has seen a new generation come and take his place – indeed, even McIlroy is nine years younger and he will be on a career grand-slam if he takes his expected first Claret Jug later today.
However, the Spaniard does not begrudge the current leader’s success. He merely feels that he missed opportunities to close the void between McIlroy and the rest of the field.
“I've always said at the end of the day we're all doing our best," he added. "And if somebody is better than you, you can't ask yourself for anything else.
"The only thing I would have loved today is to hit a couple of better shots coming in on 17 and 18. That disappointed me a little bit more than seeing Rory making eagles and birdies.
"If you're disappointed at somebody making birdies and eagles, then you're not a good sportsman.”
He shouldn’t be disappointed, either. Garcia is still waiting for his first win of the year, but he is getting closer and, although it has been said many times before, if he keeps getting into positions at the right end of the leaderboard then it will come sooner rather than later – it just won’t be this week.