This year Sergio Garcia had the biggest win of his already impressive career, finally securing his first Major with a green jacket at Augusta National in April. He is set to return to Australia for the first time since 2010 to attempt to win the Australian PGA Championship and become only the second Spaniard to hoist the Joe Kirkwood Cup. His idol and countryman Seve Ballesteros won the Kirkwood Cup in 1981.
Born in 1980 and turning pro at the age of 19, Garcia is just under 6 feet tall and has amassed multiple victories across every World Tour, including; 13 on the European Tour, 10 on the US PGA Tour, five Asian Tour wins and several other International victories that combines into staggering prize money; over $USD47 million in America and over €26 million in Europe. Garcia ranks 7th in all-time career earnings on the US PGA Tour and 5th in all-time leading money winners on the European Tour. From when he turned professional (1999) until today, Sergio has finished inside the Top-10-ranked earning professionals on the US PGA Tour or the European Tour 14 times. At press time, he is 2nd in the ‘Race to Dubai’.
Garcia began his professional career impressively winning in his 6th start (Irish Open) in Europe and went on to win the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie Of The Year award. In America he won both the Byron Nelson Award and Vardon Trophy in 2008 after securing The Players Championship and finishing 2nd in the US PGA Championship. Garcia ended 2008 with more prizemoney than any golfer on Earth and rose to a career high 2nd in the Official World Golf Rankings. Garcia has spent over 400 weeks in the top 10 of the world rankings. He has played on eight Ryder Cup teams and been part of five victories. He has had four World Cup appearances and also represented his country in the Olympics in 2016, finishing 8th.
The colourful Spaniard has had a Hall Of Fame career already, with 31 International victories, and he is only 37 years old. Often referred to as a prodigy and with due reason, Garcia simply has the mojo, the talent and sheer ability. He always has. He started playing golf aged 3 and won his club championship as a 12-year-old. Not one to plough up a practice range for hours on end, Garcia can naturally hit all the shots with a ball striking poise that is the envy of many touring professionals. Recently married and with his personal life in a happy place, we may be about to see the best of this Spanish talent. With 22 top tens in the majors to date, for one victory, they are similar numbers to Adam Scott who has 15 top tens for one victory or Lee Westwood who has 18 top tens and still hoping. Garcia notched four 2nds in majors before finally breaking through for a victory in 2017. Few will forget the first time he played the US PGA Championship in 1999, finishing 2nd to Tiger Woods. Garcia was 19.
Finally removed from the ‘best player to never win a major’ conversation, Sergio is now in decorated company with a stellar Ryder Cup record a formidable International resume that he looks set to add to with a win in Australia this Summer.
Looking back on 2017 and Sergio’s US Masters triumph, few will forget how emotional it was and for good reason. Garcia secured his green jacket on what would have been Seve Ballesteros’s 60th birthday. Seve won the US Masters twice (1980 & 1983) as did Jose Maria Olazabal (1994 & 1999) so history is with Sergio Garcia to join them both with a second US Masters victory.
Leading in to his US Masters triumph in April 2017, Garcia was already in superb form having beaten an elite field in Dubai in February with an impressive 19-under total being three shots clear of the in-form Swede Henrik Stenson. The wire-to-wire victory in Dubai only overshadowed by what some scribes have reported as ‘The greatest Ryder Cup match ever played’ a few months earlier, in October where Sergio Garcia and Phil Mickelson put on a titanic battle on the final day of the 41st Ryder Cup at Hazeltine in Minnesota. A birdie blitz ensued with the pair making 19 birdies between them, for a combined 18-under-par with a better-ball score of 58 and fittingly halving the match with birdies on the final hole.
“Obviously to shoot nine under and end up tying the match, it was heart breaking. I gave it everything I had but obviously Phil just made it from everywhere and played well,” Garcia said.
Much like his idol, Ballesteros, Garcia is patriotic and when it comes to playing for his country he is hard to beat…like Ballesteros they have both played 37 matches and both won 22.5 points for Europe.
Sergio will be bringing his green jacket to Australia, so fans can get a glimpse at Royal Pines from Nov 30th– Dec 3 on the Gold Coast. Ballesteros was also the reigning US Masters champion when he came to Australia in 1980 to contest the Australian PGA at Royal Melbourne, but he finished second to Sam Torrence of Scotland. To his credit Seve returned in 1981, again at Royal Melbourne and this time he beat five-times Australian PGA champion, Billy Dunk, by three shots to etch his name on the trophy. Seve also played The Australian open in 1979-1980, but never won the coveted title.
Sergio will have to beat perennial favourite, Gold Coast local Adam Scott who is clearly looking forward to the battle.
“It’s great to see Sergio in the field for this year’s event and I am sure he and his family will enjoy all that the Gold Coast has to offer while they are in town,” said Scott.
A sports fanatic, who is also Chairman of a Spanish football team, Garcia will be very welcome on Australian shores.
“2017 has been exciting for me winning The Masters and I look forward to celebrating the end of the year at the Australian PGA Championship,” Garcia said.
“It’s been a long time since I have visited Australia but I remember how welcoming the fans were and I have been trying to get back for some time now.”
Gavin Kirkman, CEO of the PGA of Australia, is confident that Garcia will entertain Australian golf fans.
“Sergio Garcia is one of the most exciting players in world golf and has always been a fan favourite so we are pleased to give Australian sports fans the opportunity to watch him in action in our own backyard,” Kirkman said.
“We want to make this opportunity as accessible as possible which is why we have set our tickets at a fan-friendly price of $25 per adult with children, 16 and under free of charge. The Australian PGA Championship is a celebration of golf; we will be celebrating with Sergio his Masters victory, as well as the best of the Australian golf industry at the Greg Norman Medal.”
Regardless of the outcome at this year’s event, one thing is for certain, Sergio Garcia is set to wow the crowds on the Gold Coast