Challenges, says Sergio Garcia, bring the best out of him. Whether it’s chasing that elusive Major win, to add to his 11 European Tour titles, or playing with the wind up, there is no let-up in intensity.
“I’m excited to keep improving, keep giving myself chances at winning tournaments, Majors, and give the best I have got,” he said.
The blustery conditions, which led to the suspension of the round, had been predicted at the start of the week, but did little to unsettle the Spaniard’s rhythm for whatever time play was possible on Friday. Garcia birdied two of the five holes to trail George Coetzee, the clubhouse leader, by one.
Gusts during the Omega Dubai Desert Classic aren’t rare, but were nothing like what was witnessed at the Emirates Golf Club, the wind speed crossing 36 miles at a point. Still, Garcia seemed to love it. “I’ve always been a fan of playing in the wind. It’s always asking you a little bit extra on your game. So, if you’re game, you’re going to be out there (in contention).”
The world No 15 is perhaps going through one of his best phases. After a solid 2016, he announced on Twitter that he was settling down with long-time girlfriend Angela.
Love might be in the air, but Garcia sees the latest development as just “another step in life”, firm not to relax as there lay a problem. “Being comfortable is a good thing, but if you get too comfortable and stop practicing, it can be dangerous.”
With a wink, he added, “Even if I try, Angela won’t allow me to (relax), so I don’t have a problem there.”
The boundless enthusiasm when he started out may not be the same, but that’s not had a bearing on the results, as the fire burns bright. “The hunger is there, I still want to keep achieving, and fortunately I’ve been able to avoid injuries, so that’s always a positive.
While feeling thankful and blessed to be doing what he loves for a living, Garcia hasn’t forgotten his responsibility towards the next generation. When rookie Jon Rahm secured his breakthrough win on the PGA Tour last month, Garcia was among the first to greet the young Spaniard on social media.
“It’s always a pleasure to see a young Spanish player doing something, and becoming a part of a nice group with Seve (Ballesteros), (Jose Maria) Olazabal and myself, as a PGA Tour winner. We’re excited about some of the things he can do,” he said, gushing over how the 22-year-old had a chance to make the Ryder Cup team.
George Coetzee: 66; three-under after 8 holes (-9)
Sergio Garcia: 65; one-under after 5 (-8)
Nacho Elvira: 67; one-under after 4 (-6)
David Lipsky: 67; even-par after 7 (-5)
140: Martin Kaymer (71, 69); Rafa Cabrera Bello (71, 69)
Indians in fray
Rayhan Thomas: 68; even-par after 3 (-4)
Anirban Lahiri: 69; one-over after 3 (-2)
SSP Chawrasia: 77; one-under after 3 (+4)