Daily Dispatch

Garcia wedded to his zest for Open


SERGIO Garcia is due to get married next week, but the Spaniard insists that planning his wedding is not getting in the way of his preparatio­ns for the British Open.

Before Garcia ties the knot with fiancée Angela Akins in Texas, he is aiming to win the coveted Claret Jug for the first time following some near misses in the past.

“Angela has been doing a great job of getting everything ready for the wedding. And obviously we’re really excited for next week,” Garcia, the Masters champion, said at Royal Birkdale on Monday.

“But we have something that we’re also extremely excited about this week, and we want to be here giving everything we have and hopefully with a chance on Sunday.”

Garcia, 37, has been grouped with 2015 Open champion Zach Johnson and Australia’s Jason Day in the first two rounds of this week’s Open, which starts tomorrow.

He came to Birkdale as a teenage amateur in 1998 and has since come desperatel­y close to winning the Open. He finished as runner-up to Padraig Harrington at Carnoustie in a playoff in 2007 and came second to Rory McIlroy at Hoylake in 2014.

But he shed off his nearly-man tag this year by claiming his first major title at Augusta in April, and even sported the green jacket on a recent trip to watch the tennis at Wimbledon. Now he is eager to win more majors, although he is proud of what he has achieved in his career regardless.

“I’ve always said that consistenc­y is one of my greatest attributes throughout my career. And, of course, I could have won more, but I think the consistenc­y I’ve had for the last 18, 19 years is not that easy to do,” he said. “And I think some people overlook that. Hopefully I can make that even better this week.”

Something that Garcia, the world number five, is well aware of, is the recent success enjoyed by Spaniards on links courses. After Jon Rahm won the Irish Open, Rafael Cabrera Bello took Scottish Open on Sunday.

That completed a fine sporting weekend for Spain following Garbine Muguruza’s triumph at Wimbledon.

“Spanish sport is at a good stage. It’s been up there for a while. And obviously Rafa [Nadal] winning Roland Garros. So it’s been a fun year for Spanish sports, but for Spanish golf it’s been great.

“It’s very exciting to see guys that you’re friendly with winning and fellow countrymen doing great things. So we’re going to try to keep it as much as possible.”

Meanwhile, world number one Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy will play together in the first two rounds of the British Open at Royal Birkdale.

Johnson and McIlroy will play together with former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel of South Africa in a group that will start their opening round at 2.48pm tomorrow.

The trio will then tee-off at 9.47am on Friday on the links in the town of Southport, just north of Liverpool on the north-west coast of England.

McIlroy won the Open not far from Birkdale at Hoylake in 2014 but comes into this year’s championsh­ip in poor form, having missed the cut at both the Irish Open and the Scottish Open in the last two weeks.

The world number four also missed the cut at the US Open, as did Johnson, who has not played since then.

World number two Hideki Matsuyama of Japan is in a group with US Open champion Brooks Koepka and Southport native Tommy Fleetwood. World number three Jordan Spieth of the US and last year’s Open champion Henrik Stenson of Sweden will play together alongside Kim Si-Woo of South Korea in the first two rounds.

Mark O’Meara, who won fhe Open at Birkdale in 1998 and is now 60, will have the honour of starting off the tournament when he tees off tomorrow. — AFP

 ?? Picture: REUTERS ?? TAKING ROOT: Spain’s Sergio Garcia in action during a practice round for this week’s British Open
Picture: REUTERS TAKING ROOT: Spain’s Sergio Garcia in action during a practice round for this week’s British Open

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