Ahead by three shots at the start of the day and the leader by four early in his round, Garcia struggled to a 2-over-par 73 and dipped to 7 under after 72 holes.
The inability to make par from a bunker on No. 18 forced the 27-year-old Spaniard into a playoff where he eventually lost by one stroke to Padraig Harrington.
"I was definitely a little bit nervous at the beginning and it's understandable," Garcia said in his post-round press conference. "If you're trying to win an Open Championship and you're leading and you're not nervous, then you must be dead."
Sunday marked the third time Garcia has played in the final group in a major. Each time he has come up short - none more frustrating than this one.
"It seems to me like every time I get in this kind of position I have no room for error," said Garcia, who has produced three consecutive top-five finishes in the Open.
Even though he entered the final round eight strokes out of the lead, Tiger Woods insisted that his chances were "very realistic" - even though he's yet to come from behind to win a major championship.
"If I would have posted 6- or 7-under par, I would have been right there in the mix," Woods told reporters. "The conditions and the golf course, the way it was playing ... you can make some birdies, but also if you just missed a couple of shots today, the pins were extremely difficult."
As it turned out, Woods shot a 1-under 70 and finished tied for 12th place at 2-under 282. He came to Carnoustie bidding to become the first player to hoist the claret jug three consecutive years in more than a half century.
Woods discounted any notions that he was bothered by a sore shoulder. He said he simply didn't strike the ball well enough to win.
"It would have been nice if I would have just hit the ball a little better and just given myself a chance," Woods said. "I feel like I putted beautifully all week, but I couldn't get close enough.
"When I did, I made them. I wasn't consistent hitting the ball close enough to make birdies and subsequently, I was on the periphery of trying to win a championship."
Despite playing the final two holes in 3 over par to blow any chance of winning the Open, Andres Romero didn't express any disappointment in his third-place finish.
"I am happy," Romero told reporters. "When the best players in the world are here and I played the tournament I played ... I felt very comfortable playing. I belonged there."
Romero had a remarkable round that included 10 birdies, two bogeys and two double bogeys on his way to a 4-under 67. After making four consecutive birdies to reach 9 under after 16 holes, the player from Argentina double bogeyed No. 17 and bogeyed No. 18 to finish the championship at 6-under 278.
One day after Steve Stricker tied the course record at Carnoustie with a 7-under-par 64 Saturday, Richard Green equaled the feat Sunday. The Australian made six birdies and an eagle before suffering his only bogey at No. 18.
Green, who finished the Open tied for fourth at 5-under 279, admitted to members of the media that he gunning for the course record.
"I definitely knew where I was positioned in the tournament over the last few holes," Green said. "I guess I had my focus on shooting the course record for some reason. I had 8 under in my mind.
"I guess having that focus in my mind took the notice a bit away from my position in the tournament and gave me a good opportunity to finish off the round as good as I could. I was pleased with that."
July 23, 2007
With stellar play on the back nine at Royal Birkdale, Padraig Harrington shot a 69 in the final round to earn a four-shot victory and become Europe's first back-to-back British Open champion in more than a century. He earned nearly $1.5 million and climbed to No. 3 in the world rankings. "I'm really thrilled with the way I felt today on the golf course," Harrington said. "I hit the ball as pure as I could and just felt really good."
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