"The Masters is like the Champions League, but the British Open is like the Champions' Champions League."
The words of Sergio Garcia who, in the wake of his long overdue maiden major win at Augusta, resisted any urge to elevate the Masters above the Open.
Such a shift in the affable Spaniard's perspective would have been understandable, given that his Georgia joy had banished the pain of so many major-championship disappointments.
But even with the green jacket stretched proudly across his puffed-out chest, Garcia pined for the incomparable prestige of golf's oldest major.
What an awesome new jacket, the members of Augusta National GC gave me tonight, don't you think? pic.twitter.com/grvu8ZIhi6— Sergio Garcia (@TheSergioGarcia) April 10, 2017
That it has been the stage for Garcia's most gut-wrenching failures has done little to dampen his love for it. If anything, his desire to one day lay hands upon the Claret Jug has been strengthened by the burden of those near-misses.
His record is a remarkable one – 10 top-10 finishes, a play-off loser in 2007, tied for second in 2014. Just last year he earned a share of fifth place, albeit a long way adrift of the titanic tussle between Phil Mickelson and eventual winner Henrik Stenson.
The Swede's stunning Troon triumph, which broke his major duck at the age of 40, may well have served as a timely reminder to Garcia – even now a mere 37 – that golf is a sport in which the winds of time erode talent at a mercifully slow rate.
Garcia had for a long time seemed older than his years, a perception explained by the fact he first appeared in a major at the 1996 Open, when he was just 16.
In the two decades between that outing at Royal Lytham & St Annes and this year's play-off win over Justin Rose, Garcia had featured in so many 'if only' moments that even he had come to the bleak conclusion that he was destined never to win a major.
He said in 2012, after a third-round 75 saw him slip out of contention at the Masters: "I'm not good enough... I don't have the thing I need to have. I've come to the conclusion that I need to play for second or third place."
And that candid confession gave the impression of a man whose best days were behind him, who had simply failed to realise his outstanding potential.
But now, with an Augusta success on his CV, Garcia is a golfer reborn. He heads to Royal Birkdale unencumbered by the weight of an unkind, but previously not unfounded, expectation that he would crumble if major glory should loom into view.
In his present incarnation, Garcia is a man who people expect to win. If he should do so on Merseyside, he would join Seve Ballesteros as one of only two Spaniards to have win the Open and join him too as an undisputed legend of the game.
|Van Gaal: Heynckes can become a Bayern Munich god|
|Real Madrid without Ramos for Girona test|
|South Africa include Morris & Olivier for remainder of Australia series|
|Icardi reaches 100 Serie A goals against former club Sampdoria|
|Ireland Grand Slam heroes denied homecoming by weather|
|Cardiff trip to Derby postponed due to snow|
|Ogbonna gets Italy call as cover for doubtful Chiellini|
|Sunderland suspend Gibson after drink-driving charge|
|Manly claim record Eels thrashing, Knights win late again|
|Winning FA Cup is not important, claims Chelsea coach Conte|
|No one will be compared to me – Cristiano Ronaldo|
|LeBron James: Cavs worried about Lue health|
|F1 2018 Pre-Season Report: Red Bull|
|F1 2018 Pre-Season Report: Force India|
|Melbourne Victory 5 Central Coast Mariners 2: Berisha leads rout with hat-trick|
|Clarke breaks three vertebrae, Greipel has collarbone surgery|
|Waratahs blitz Rebels after scoring 38 unanswered points|
|Del Potro relishing Federer showdown|
|Australia to host two games against Team USA in 2019|
|Grizzlies snap 19-game losing streak, LeBron´s triple-double lifts Cavs|
|McIlroy suggests limiting alcohol sales after Bay Hill abuse|
|Marotta dismisses Allegri-PSG links as Juve focus on Can|
|MLS Review: Champions Toronto still winless, Atlanta crush Whitecaps|
|Lukaku: A lot of players will join Manchester United next season|
|I feel like I just woke up – Indian Wells finalist Federer explains slow start|
|High-flying Reds win third straight in Buenos Aires|
|Salah and Liverpool don´t fear Man City: We´ve beaten them!|
|What can I lose? - Mourinho defends criticism of Man Utd players|
|Mourinho accuses Manchester United of being scared to play|
|Mourinho delivers stinging Shaw criticism after FA Cup win|
|Haskell: England not good enough during Six Nations|
|Allegri waits on Chiellini update after Juve´s SPAL stalemate|
|Stenson leads by one with DeChambeau and McIlroy lurking|
|Racing put pressure on leaders Montpellier as Toulon are toppled|
|Klopp eases concerns over Can´s back complaint|
|Six Nations defeats make no difference to England mindset – Hartley|
|Matic was an island of personality - Mourinho questions United mentality|
|Del Potro demolishes Raonic to set up Federer final|
|He´s getting quicker on the Zimmer frame – Schmidt jokes about Best future|
|SPAL 0 Juventus 0: Scudetto charge halted by Serie A strugglers|
|Manchester United 2 Brighton and Hove Albion 0: Lukaku & Matic book semi-final spot|
|Fresh rib fracture for Cavendish but ´no serious injury´ after crash|
|Unbeaten Federer fights back to reach Indian Wells final|
|Klopp: Salah could be among world´s best, but don´t compare him to Messi|
|Woods hopes to still be within reach at Arnold Palmer Invitational|
|Championship Review: Wolves on the charge as Monk lifts Birmingham´s spirits|
|Twickenham boos will ´put me to sleep at night´, Jones claims|
|Salah threatening Rush´s record for goals in single Liverpool season|
|Hodgson hopes Zaha avoided injury|
|Snow causes Wakefield-Widnes abandonment|
|Liverpool 5 Watford 0: Inspirational Salah nets four as Reds bounce back|
|Lambert rues Everton´s ´offside´ opener in costly Stoke City defeat|
|Scotland´s late rally leaves Townsend feeling positive for the future|
|Wales hold off France to claim second behind Ireland|
|Man Utd bench Pogba & Sanchez for FA Cup quarter-final|
|Pardew: Evans loss key to Bournemouth defeat|
|Zarco breaks track record to claim Qatar pole after Rossi crashes in practice|
|Ireland had to make every moment count against England – Best|
|Salah breaks Torres´ impressive Liverpool record|
|We are not heroes one day and villains the next – Mourinho continues defence of Sevilla exit|
|Lions bounce back against Sunwolves, Stormers end miserable streak|
|Jones: England losing streak only natural|
|They have many players who´d get in my team – The Sevilla stars Mourinho should buy|
|Mario Gomez will not beg for World Cup place|
|England´s form continues to run cold in Twickenham snow|
|Nibali holds on in Milan-San Remo as Cavendish crashes again|
|Bournemouth 2 West Brom 1: Stanislas piles misery on Pardew|
|Buffon to play on for Italy as Di Biagio calls up uncapped duo|
|Huddersfield Town 0 Crystal Palace 2: Tomkins and Milivojevic secure priceless win|
|Stockdale makes history as ruthless Ireland win Grand Slam|