His career’s on the upswing, but Sergio Garcia also understands what he is to a lot of people. Approaching the 18th marquee with a four-shot cushion --- Henrik Stenson birdied the last to make it three --- the Spanish golfer still had to make the final putt to call the Omega Dubai Desert Classic title his. Making his way to the green, he pulled out a marker and signed some giveaways --- a ball and the glove that was a part of him on Sunday.
Since the day had gone off without fuss, barring the phase when Stenson, the world No 4, cut the lead to two shots on the back nine, a quiet raise of the arms signalled the win. A dry run on the European Tour had come to an end, and before it got official status at the score recorders, Garcia reached out to his fans, briefly though. The ball was tossed into the stands, causing a scramble, and the glove changed hands. The beneficiary was a boy by the edge of the green.
It isn’t because the year has begun with a personal milestone or his last title (Qatar Masters) came in January 2014. The New Year is the time for thanksgiving. “I love playing golf and the possibility of doing it year in, year out for a living is something magnificent to start with,” he said.
Set to walk the aisle with fiancée Angela later this year, Garcia admitted serenity outside made it easier on the golf course. But even after playing one of his best “ball-striking tournaments” this week, a question was popped on the cabinet being bereft of a Major trophy.
The world No 15 didn’t have an answer. “When I get to the Majors, I do the best I can, and that doesn’t change. Golf is tough, very tough.” Another topic was raised but the hunger permeated through the easy demeanour when asked why he skipped some key events on the Tour.
“If you can promise I’ll win The Open, I’ll play (those events), but you can’t.” Despite the toothy grin, the keenness was apparent.
Scheduling has played a part in Garcia staying injury free for most of his career, and there is no way that will change. Not even the lucrative FedEx Cup playoffs on the PGA Tour at the yearend.
It isn’t as if those four weeks aren’t accorded importance, they matter. But at 37, he needs to preserve himself. Playing beyond three weeks on the trot is avoided. “If you haven’t played well for three weeks (of the playoffs), the fourth won’t make a difference.”
It’ll be a while before Garcia will need to take a call on that again. Right now, he is looking homewards, and there is excitement over a lot of things that are coming the couple’s way.
India’s Anirban Lahiri finished tied 19th while 17-year-old amateur Rayhan Thomas was tied 60.