Blog
16
December
Is Sergio García about to enter the prime of his career?
By: Ross Starkey

His win in the Thailand Golf Championship was one which was completed against Henrik Stenson, the best golfer in the world right now, and it will have done wonders for his confidence, after comfortably defending a four shot lead in the final round.

García is only 33, an age when some of the games finest hadn't yet started to win majors. Nick Price was 38 before he won the first of his 3 majors, Nick Faldo was 32 when he won the first of his 6, Pádraig Harrington was 35 by the time he won his first major and then won two more soon after, and even Phil Mickelson awaited his 33rd birthday before wining the Masters for the first time and now he's on five and one shy of winning all of them.

Yet at the 2011 Masters García took the unusual step of unburdening his fears and insecurities onto the worlds press, when he stated publicly that he didn't think he was good enough to win a major.

“That’s the reality. I’m not good enough and today I know it. I’ve been trying for 13 years and I don’t feel capable of winning....I don’t know what happened to me. Maybe it’s something psychological. I’m not good enough for the majors. That’s it.”

Was he being honest? Could he really have decided his game wasn't up to the task or was it just a double bluff and a pre-emptive attempt to silence the doubters and relieve the pressure. Something that Lee Westwood may well wish he'd done years ago.

Since that statement García has been true to his word, he's neither won, nor challenged the leaderboard at a major, until the weekend that is. For a player as talented as García who has 8 PGA wins, 10 European Tour, a total of 25 worldwide wins and 6 Ryder Cup appearances, this may seem a bit impetuous, if only we weren't accustomed to Sergio's impulsivity.

YouTube is awash with gratuitous displays of anger from García, that would be more at home in Nursery class than at a top golf event. Whether its spitting in the hole, repeatedly smashing his club in a bunker, or just audibly bad language, García can get very angry.

But whilst his anger is quick to surface, so is his honesty. His interview at the BMW PGA Championship in May, when he was questioned about whether he liked Tiger, was surprisingly revealing. He can be candid, overly so, uncomfortably so, sometimes a welcome tonic to Tiger Woods' automated shades of grey responses, sometimes a bit too prickly.

“Everything I say, I say it because I feel it,” he said. “If I didn’t mean it, I couldn’t stand here and lie like a lot of the guys do. If I felt like I could win, I would do it.”

Just when we thought García was going to go toe-to-toe with the world's best and duel it out with Woods all the way up to the 18th and beyond at the Players in May, he decided to go swimming, not once, but twice at the 17th and deny everyone watching a playoff between two players unable to hide their contempt of each other.

Shortly after the Players defeat Garcia was at it again with an ill-timed and poorly referenced comment on Tiger Woods and fried chicken. A culmination of events that started at the Players where García accused Woods of distracting him during the third round.

After the dust had settled, apologies made and an awkward shaking of hands at the US Open, a more reflective, and bashful García emerged. And if this change is permanent, we might see him repeat the feats of those other aforementioned golfers, who waited just as long for their first taste of major glory (albeit without the controversy and toy throwing).

Whether the tide will turn for El Niño will be up to the boy himself. His will to win is as enigmatic as his ability to lose it. The Players was an awesome self-destruct, the Thailand Golf Championships was a classy win from the front. Knowing which Sergio will turn up from week to week has been hard to predict. When Sergio grows up, and we are on that cusp right now, his next win might just be a major.

 

(Photo credit Jim Epler http://www.flickr.com/photos/epler/)