The Citizen (KZN)

Garcia: Seve was there in spirit

It took Spaniard 74 attempts to finally achieve his dream. I’M SURE HE HELPED A LITTLE BIT


Sergio Garcia, who captured his greatest victory in 20 years of topflight golf on Sunday by winning the Masters, said he felt the presence of the late Seve Ballestero­s helping pull him through.

“I’m sure he helped a little bit with some of those shots or some of those putts,” Garcia said.

The 37-year-old Spaniard defeated England’s Justin Rose, the reigning Olympic champion, with a birdie on the first play-off hole at Augusta National after failing in his first 73 tries at a Major win.

“It has been an amazing week and I’m going to enjoy it for the rest of my life,” said Garcia.

Ballestero­s, who died in 2011 at the age of 54 of brain cancer, and Jose Maria Olazabal each won the green jacket twice and were the event’s only Spanish champions until Garcia’s breakthrou­gh.

Garcia won on what would have been the 60th birthday of Ballestero­s, a date seemingly destined for great things from him.

“It definitely popped in my mind a few times, obviously today a couple of times here and there,” Garcia said.

Garcia, set to jump from 11th to seventh in the world rankings, had been treated to supportive notes all week from friends and family, including fiancee Angela Akins and Olazabal.

“All those things helped a lot,” Garcia said. “Obviously Jose Maria’s helped a lot. He and Seve were my idols since I was very little. He mentioned, ‘You know what you have to do,’ and ‘Believe in yourself.’” Olazabal also told Garcia that “I’m not sharing my (Champions room) locker until I get to do it with you. He’s a great man. To be able to join him as Masters champions from Spain, it’s unreal.”

More than his shotmaking, Garcia said, it was a change in attitude and determinat­ion he could win despite setbacks, like bogeys at 10 and 11 to fall two shots back, that gave him the greatest pride.

“I knew what I was capable of doing and I believed I could do it,” Garcia said. “Even after the two bogeys, I knew I could still do it. There were some holes I could go after. I knew I would probably have my chances.

“In the past I would have started going to my caddie, ‘oh it doesn’t go through.’ Now I’m like, ‘If that’s what’s supposed to happen let it happen,’ and let’s see if we can put on a hell of a finish.”

And now that he has started winning Majors, Garcia has some confidence he could open the floodgates.

“I feel like I have so much room for improvemen­t,” he said. –

 ?? Picture: Getty Images ?? THE MOMENT. Sergio Garcia celebrates breaking his duck in Majors at Augusta on Sunday.
Picture: Getty Images THE MOMENT. Sergio Garcia celebrates breaking his duck in Majors at Augusta on Sunday.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa