GARCIA AT EASE WITH HIS SLIM CHANCE FOR RACE TO DUBAI TITLE
Spaniard is content after three wins that included his first major and will focus on a good show at JGE, writes John McAuley
Although Garcia has finished inside the top 25 on all six appearances at JGE, he has never registered a top five
As the least likely of the three in the running this week to win the Race to Dubai, Sergio Garcia has arrived in the UAE relatively stress free.
The Spaniard has already had a year to remember, what with three wins, kick-started by February’s impressive wire-to-wire victory at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. Then, two months later, he had a first major championship, finally, at the 74th attempt.
Off the course, too, things are pretty swell, with Garcia not long married and with a first bambino on the way. So the fact he is rated as having apparently next-to-no chance of crowning a crowning season with the European No 1 title does not particularly irk him.
All things considered such as form, event history, etc, the European Tour cites Garcia’s chances of clinching the year-long honour after this week’s DP World Tour Championship as three per cent. That is some way behind second-placed Justin Rose (24 per cent) and current leader Tommy Fleetwood (73).
To be fair, Garcia did not even realise his odds were as good.
“You know, I don’t even know,” he said at Jumeirah Golf Estates (JGE) yesterday, when asked if he had crunched the numbers and deciphered the various permutations. “It doesn’t really bother me. I can’t control what other people do.
“Obviously, both Tommy and Justin are playing really well. So I’m not expecting to finish 40th or 50th.
“To be totally honest, I see a two per cent chance of me winning the Race to Dubai, but I’m fine with it. I can live with it. It’s been a great year, and that’s not going to change.”
The only change a first Race to Dubai trophy would bring is a great year would transition to an “amazing” one.
As it stands, a fourth triumph of 2017 would land Garcia the big prize, but only if Rose finishes worse than solo fourth and Fleetwood outside the top 20.
“I thought it was worse than that,” Garcia said. “But no, obviously, I’m going to go out there and I’m going to play the best I can. At the end of the week, we’ll see what happens.
“I’m going to keep working like I’ve been saying all year, and like I said at [his most recent win in] Valderrama: keep challenging myself, keep putting myself in situations to test myself and try to overcome those situations the best way possible. Not only for this week and this year, but for what’s coming in the future.”
Garcia’s immediate future is complicated, however slightly, by the fact he is playing a first tournament with clubs from a new manufacturer.
Last month, it was announced his 15-year connection to TaylorMade would not continue, with Garcia almost certain to switch to Calloway. “At the moment, it’s the company that is in front of the other ones,” he said, rather diplomatically.
As such, it does not exactly represent ideal preparation for the Earth course, a track the reigning Masters champion has not yet, well, mastered. Although Garcia has finished inside the top 25 on all six appearances at JGE, he has never registered a top five. In fact, his best performance was a share of seventh, way back at the inaugural event, in 2009.
“I guess it’s probably not one of my favourite golf courses that we play all year,” he said. “So that probably doesn’t help on my behalf. But it doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t be able to do well.
“Obviously I’ve had some good weeks here, but I haven’t had weeks as well as I probably should have. But you know, we’ll try to make that happen this week.”
The European Tour says Sergio Garcia’s chances of winning the overall Race to Dubai title is three per cent