Spa­niard is con­tent af­ter three wins that in­cluded his first ma­jor and will fo­cus on a good show at JGE, writes John McAu­ley

The National - News - - SPORT -

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

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