They were born a decade apart, Phil Mickelson in 1970 and Sergio Garcia in 1980. Both launched their careers like rockets, blasting into money, accomplishment and fame–and both became “the best player never to win a major.” It’s a title in golf that’s hard to get, but that no one really wants. For a while Mickelson looked like he’d hold onto it forever. His twenties passed, then the beginnings of his thirties and still no major. Finally in 2004, 34 years after he was born, Mickelson won The Masters–and his coveted, elusive major championship paved the way for the five major titles he now holds.
Garcia is chasing Rory McIlroy at the British Open. He’s within range. If the Spaniard charges and McIlroy gives ground, Garcia will win his first major–like Mickelson–34 years after he was born. If Sergio wants to be the next Phil Mickelson–who zoomed from “best player never” to second-best player of his generation after the win–then he needs to start this year, 2014. Garcia will never be 34 again.