"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.
|Rebels romp past Sunwolves, Crusaders retain top spot|
|Halep ´stronger mentally´ as she seeks first grand slam title|
|Cipriani on bench for Baa Baas clash|
|Ronaldo´s rival Salah shifts focus back to Liverpool versus Real Madrid|
|Two arrested in Kiev after clashes before Champions League final|
|Johnny Nelson leads tributes after death of Brendan Ingle|
|Batshuayi puts off Chelsea plans until after World Cup|
|Devon Smith back in Windies squad, Hamilton earns maiden call-up|
|Thiago hints at uncertain Bayern Munich future|
|Dhananjaya pulls out of Windies tour following death of father|
|I feel great - Kerr keeps faith with Warriors on the brink|
|Ronaldo: I can´t be compared with Salah|
|Buffon agent backs Paris Saint-Germain move|
|ICC confirms smart watches prohibited|
|Real Madrid v Liverpool: Champions League final in Opta numbers|
|Mane sends 300 Liverpool shirts to Senegal village for Champions League final|
|Arthur will not join Barcelona before December, Gremio insist|
|Real Madrid v Liverpool: Key battles in the Champions League final|
|Trout hits 15th HR, Bundy strikes out 14|
|Rockets star Paul dealing with hamstring injury|
|Does he only care about his hair? - Denmark coach Hareide slams Pogba, France|
|Rockets push Warriors to brink of elimination|
|World number 84 Kicker suspended for match-fixing|
|WATCH: Paul shimmies in Curry´s face|
|Copa Libertadores Review: Estudiantes into last 16 after thrilling win over Nacional|
|Ronaldo: Cristiano and Neymar would be good together at Madrid|
|Rockets honour Santa Fe victims, first responders at game five|
|Real Madrid rejected €150m offers for Asensio – agent|
|Marshall, Baldwin react strongly to Trump´s comments on NFL anthem stance|
|Nabura handed six-week ban for wild kick|
|Pedroia to return for Red Sox on Friday|
|Warriors´ Iguodala ruled out for game five against Rockets|
|Na leads as Spieth makes solid start at Colonial|
|James Harden, LeBron James headline 2017-18 All-NBA first team|
|Manchester United target Fred to decide future after World Cup|
|´Incredible´ Salah is like Messi, says Ronaldo|
|Salah a big candidate for Ballon d´Or - Muller|
|Message from coach keeping Masters champion Reed grounded|
|Anybody can really win it - Seles feels French Open is wide open this year|
|Mambo number 5! - Non-league star channels Lou Bega hit|
|Pakistan to stop wearing smart watches after ICC intervention - Hasan|
|Saha hails ´great man´ Ferguson as legendary Man Utd boss continues recovery|
|Emery´s depth of knowledge impressed Arsenal´s Gazidis|
|Conceicao extends Porto contract|
|Lomax impresses as Saints overrun Tigers|
|McIlroy in contention at Wentworth as Bjerregaard sets the early pace|
|Bad light calls time on Thiem, Wawrinka out in Geneva|
|Garitano in, Canales out at Real Sociedad|
|Caparros accepts new role at Sevilla|
|Pliskova downed by Larsson after drawing Serena in Paris|
|They´re using the anthem as fake patriotism - Warriors coach Kerr critical of NFL|
|Lyon win record fifth Women´s Champions League title|
|French Open 2018: Doing the unthinkable - the men most likely to topple Nadal|
|French Open 2018: How can Rafael Nadal be stopped?|
|Steve Smith named as marquee player for Global T20 Canada|
|Can Emre play? Yes he Can... and so can Milner|
|Liverpool working to help fans after flight cancellations|
|Abbas and Hasan torment sorry England|
|Xavi ´thrilled´ to sign two-year Al Sadd extension|
|Holtby extends Hamburg contract despite relegation|
|Nadal begins French Open defence against Dolgopolov|
|Serena drawn to play Pliskova in French Open first round|
|FA condemns assault of match official|
|Bologna confirm Donadoni departure|
|Yates lead halved in Giro d´Italia|
|Connacht turn to Friend|
|Scotland lose injured Dunbar for June tour|
|Spalletti in ´no rush´ to sign new Inter deal|
|Ricciardo and Red Bull dominate Monaco practice|
|Mauricio Pochettino signs new deal with Tottenham|