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Sergio García: ‘It’s special to be called a Masters champion but my career has been amazing’ | Sergio Garcia

HIonly 54 men have won the Masters, which tells you everything about the club’s exclusivity. Childhood dreams made from Sunday night trips along Magnolia Lane with Green Jacket in hand.

It is a testament to the level of Sergio García’s talent that, for many observers, the fulfillment of his long-awaited main ambition at Augusta National in 2017 was not enough. Not long after the Spaniard ended his big drought – in his 74th time, after a famous bout with Justin Rose – people began to ask when García would become double champion. He had prepared himself for the narrative.

“I knew this was going to happen,” García said. “When I didn’t have it it was: ‘What if he never wins a major?’ At the time I said: ‘In the end, of course yes, winning majors makes your career better,’ but I already felt my career was a great career. You can ask a lot of guys here and they would love to have a career like mine, even then.

“It’s clear that the more majors you win, the better your career will be, but that doesn’t mean that now, because I haven’t won my second one, my career is suddenly bad again. I’ve never seen him like that.”

García’s sentiment actually ignores the fact that so many people in golf want him to win a major. It feels right. Those with two majors include ngel Cabrera, Lee Janzen, Zach Johnson and Retief Goosen. García should take it as a compliment that there is a widespread belief that he should, at the very least, be in such a company before he retires.

Golfers throughout history have insisted that their professional lives have been more than satisfying, only to admit an element of bluffing when they finally entered major winner territory. Somehow it was considered a form of weakness to express great frustration. García is interesting in this context because he insisted during his glory days in Georgia that differences with him would be minimal. He stands at that point, five years later.

Danny Willett, the 2016 champion, presented Sergio García with his Green Jacket. Photo: David Cannon/Getty Images

“I’m proud to do it, of course,” said the 42-year-old. “It’s definitely a special week every time I go back there and it’s special to be called a Masters champion for the rest of your life. But as I said, I’m very happy with the career I’ve had before, so it’s not a case of: ‘If I don’t win one of these, I can never be happy with what I’ve achieved.’ Winning it made things better but it wasn’t like a gamechanger for me. Early in my career, it would have made a bigger difference.”

Augusta García’s post-2017 experience somewhat sums up what has been a difficult relationship between players and venues. Indeed, in the moments leading up to the victory – and even when in such a promising position – García would have given the impression that he thought he was more likely to win Miss World than the first major of the year. García laughed when asked if he really loved Augusta National. “Yes, I know,” he said. “It has obviously changed a lot from the first time I went there in 1999 but it is still an amazing championship and a special place.

“This is a course that gives me a bit of both. There are some things that are good, some things that are not so good. I always go there excited and hope everything goes well, but you never know how it will turn out.”

He missed the cut in 2018, 2019 and 2021. The European Ryder Cup icon was forced to miss the 2020 Masters after testing positive for the coronavirus. What Augusta gave, he deserved.

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“I don’t think there’s a reason for that run,” García said. “There is a combination of things. Right after I won, there was an equipment change and it didn’t work. It doesn’t help me. Last year even though I didn’t start well, I should have gone through without a doubt but missed one. It seems like things don’t want to happen there since I won, if that makes sense. But you keep coming back, keep trying and waiting for things to change a bit. Hopefully this year it will be.”

Case in point: 15th hole during the first round of defending Garcia’s title. With just 200 yards left on the green at par five, Garcia fired his second, fourth, sixth, eighth and 10th shots into the water. A 13 at the end means he is almost guaranteed to come out at halfway point. But is such an incident easier to pick up when one is already a Masters champion?

“I see the point how it can happen and maybe a little bit, but at the same time we are competitors,” said García. “We never like it when things like that happen. Even more so when you hit what were probably two or three good shots that ended up in the water. I thought of my first and second shots like that. You can look back and say: ‘You know what, it was supposed to happen,’ or whatever, but it’s never fun to have an experience like that. You want to make a birdie or an eagle there. It still makes me bad. It might last a bit longer because you’ve won there but it still gets you, for sure.”

Sergio García looks out over the water on the 15th during his first round at the 2018 Masters
Sergio García looked out over the water in the 15th minute during his first round at the Masters in 2018. He shot eight over 13 on the hole. Photo: David J Phillip/AP

García has spent time heading into the 86th Masters admitting that improvement is needed if he is to compete for that second win. His iron play is usually accurate but he has averaged over 28 putts per lap this PGA Tour season and his driving style has strayed from time to time. He may, then, arrive at Augusta with more hope than hope; policies that have done little to harm García in the past. It’s not surprising at all to see him featured in the upcoming Masters discussion.

Sergio García: ‘It’s special to be called a Masters champion but my career has been amazing’ | Sergio Garcia

Source link Sergio García: ‘It’s special to be called a Masters champion but my career has been amazing’ | Sergio Garcia

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