LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- If not for the run that new world No. 1 Rory McIlroy has been on, the hottest golfer in the world would be Sergio Garcia.

Instead, Garcia comes to Louisville in the shadow not only of McIlroy, but of whether Tiger Woods will play in the 96th PGA Championship, which begins Thursday morning.

But overlooking Garcia might be a mistake, given the way he's played lately.

He finished tied for second behind McIlroy in the British Open and finished second outright to McIlroy at the WGC-Bridgestone last weekend, though he did cough up a three-stroke lead in that runner-up finish.

But Garcia said the near-misses haven't been discouraging.

"It's been a good year," he said. "Obviously a lot of high finishes, some really good chances of winning tournaments. Unfortunately it's only happened once this year, in Qatar. . . . I always try to look at the positive side of it. I think that the only one that I could say I could have done a little bit better, obviously was Sunday. I could've definitely putted better Sunday (in the Bridgestone loss). For some reason I just struggled with the speed of the greens.

"But you know, if you look at some of the other finishes, I was coming from behind, I was attacking, I was trying to catch up. So I think for the most part, it's all been very positive. I mean, like I always say, obviously finishing second is not the greatest, but, you know, the only guy that loses is the one that has a chance of winning. If I'm lying 50th, I'd rather finish second and lose than be 50th and not have a chance."

At one point in his career, Garcia looked like he might be the guy to take up the primary chase to Tiger Woods. He nearly caught Woods in the 1999 PGA Championship, and was in the final group with Woods in the 2002 U.S. Open and the 2006 British Open.

But he never caught Woods. He might qualify for the honor of "best player without a major." He wasn't always the best loser. He made excuses, pouted, and struggled with his lack of a breakthrough. But he was gracious after his loss to McIlroy last week.

Now, he says, he's not pressuring himself about winning a major, though Valhalla this week should present him an ideal opportunity to do just that.

"I've always wanted to win at least one (major), but I would never say I felt urgency about it," he said. "I mean, obviously we're here trying to do it, week-in, week-out. So it would be nice. But like I've always said, if I get to 45 and I haven't won one, then I'll probably start worrying a bit more. But hopefully that won't happen."

He may be in position, after having a rivalry with Woods, to put himself in a similar shape against McIlroy.

"He's a wonderful player," Garcia said of McIlroy. "We're quite friendly with each other. We get along well. We enjoy each other's company. So it's good to see him playing well. Obviously he's got a lot of talent. You know, the only thing I can do is keep improving, keep getting better."

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