PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLORIDA – Major champions are different. They look similar, talk the same but there is a slight swagger in their walk, and they give off an almost imperceptible air of superiority. They know that in the grand scheme of things they have done something very few other players in golf have done. More importantly, they know that you know that they know it.
Take Sergio Garcia. The 2017 Masters champion is rarely seen without a smile on his face these days. He seems at peace with himself now that he has a green jacket, a wife and a daughter. His golf can still be patchy and he admitted a 69 that put him 7-under par after 36 holes of the Players contained moments when he was struggling.
But listen to him talking and imagine a smile on his bearded face as he does so. “Playing golf is what I do but being a father is amazing. Both Angela and I are slowly getting used to it. We have the best baby in the world.
Someone said: “You can’t have the best baby in the world. Every father believes that about his child.”
Garcia shook his head vigorously. “No, no. She’s the best. She’s the cutest, the best behaved, the most beautiful, the cleverest and she sleeps great. Besides, she even does the nicest No. 2s ever.”
Need more perspective? Listen to Henrik Stenson, the 2016 Open champion, a man who has displayed his temper on occasion, sometimes on the course and sometimes off it. You might have thought that after an 8 on the par-5 11th, his second hole of the day, he would still be angry hours later. But with age comes wisdom and with success comes a sense of reality. “I wanted a cannon to shoot me back to Orlando after that,” Stenson said. “But I couldn’t find one so I thought I had better hang around.“
He did so to such good effect that he played the next 16 holes in 5 under par to get to 6-under overall and well in with a chance of winning a second Players nine years after his first.
“We know this course can change quite a lot over the weekend so with some wind and very little watering, I guess it will be a different golf course come Sunday,” Stenson said. “As of now, it has been very scorable.”