CASARES, SPAIN | “What’s wrong with Sergio,” is one of the most oft-posed questions in golf. The answer, here, is that there’s not too much wrong with the player at all.
True, he has had a few hiccups along the way and has yet to win a major but, such things apart, he is a roaring success – a well-rounded fellow and a world-class golfer. In on-course earnings alone, he has amassed comfortably over 40 million dollars in the last 13 years.
Garcia would not deny that he has contributed to the image people have of him as a player who tosses and turns by night because he does not have a major under his belt.
He came up with a host of negative comments after The Masters and there were more of the same on the preview day to last week’s Volvo Match Play Championship at Finca Cortesin.
When asked if those Masters remarks were merely down to people catching him at the wrong time, Garcia suggested that that was part of the equation but that there was a touch of frustration and reality in there as well. “Sometimes I have played myself out of it (winning a major) and sometimes I have gotten beat. It just feels like it’s taking a long time.”
Carlos Rodriguez, Garcia’s manager, says that while his player took a while to get over his loss to Padraig Harrington in the 2007 Open at Carnoustie, he couldn’t be happier with his overall lot.
“Nowadays,” said Rodriguez, “he’s more likely to shrug off his golfing disappointments in a couple of hours. He’s far more philosophical than he used to be. Okay, he’s not won a major but he’s still got 10 more years in which he could. If he does win one or more, that’s fantastic, but if he doesn’t, he’ll still have had a first-class career and enjoyed a great way of life.
“What doesn’t come across as much as it should,” he continued, “is that Sergio’s isn’t all about golf, golf, golf. There’s so much else in his life.”
He pointed to how happy his player is with his Welsh girlfriend, how well he gets on with his parents – and the degree to which he revels in other sports.
Garcia grew up playing tennis and football as well as golf at the Club de Golf del Mediterraneo. His tennis – he played a rollicking three sets at Finca Cortesin last Wednesday night – was further enhanced during the couple of years he went out with Martina Hingis. As for his football, his enthusiasm never wanes.
When the club in his local village of Borriol in Castellon ran out of money a couple of years ago, they asked Garcia if he would get involved. Not only did he start financing them out of his own pocket but he ran golf days to raise extra cash.
He sponsors the juniors and the women’s teams as well as the Firsts and the Seconds and, in weeks when he is not on tour, he attends the matches – as a player.
You query whether he plays for the Firsts or the Seconds and Rodriguez comes up with a bemused counter-question, “What do you think? The Firsts, of course.”
In Rodriguez’s eyes, there is no question that Garcia could have been as good a footballer as he is golfer: “He loves the locker-room atmosphere.”
When Garcia failed to make the 2010 Ryder Cup side, he explained to Colin Montgomerie that he still wanted to be at Celtic Manor to support the rest. Montgomerie has since mentioned that though, initially, Garcia looked a little forlorn at not being in the mix as a player, he turned into the best of vice-captains.
Last Thursday’s Garcia – Alvaro Quiros contest was all the more riveting in that each is as hell-bent as the other on making Jose Maria Olazabal’s Ryder Cup side for Medinah. Manuel Pinero, the veteran Spanish Ryder Cup player, saw it as such a “big match” that he walked every step of the way.
Pinero rightly predicted that Garcia, the steadier of the two, would win, which he did by 2 and 1. But he had winced, visibly, at the number of times the player’s right hand came off the club, particularly with his tee shots. “He knows he is doing something wrong in his swing and he’s giving up on it too soon instead of getting something out of it,” he said.
Garcia had admitted to technical problems before the start of the event and nothing had happened during that first round tie to tell him that he was getting back on track.
Which was why he was as down in the immediate wake of Thursday’s match as he had been on Wednesday. Down enough to prompt one concerned writer to ask if was seeing a golf psychologist.
Garcia gave him a withering look before snapping, “Is he going to fix my swing?”
Once again, he had made a somewhat unnecessary contribution to the “What’s wrong with Sergio?” debate.