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Sergio Relaxed and Ready for Aus PGA

Garcia was all smiles at Royal Pines on Tuesday. (Photo: Australian PGA)
Sergio Garcia today spoke to a crowded media centre ahead of this week’s Australian PGA Championship and expressed his delight in being back in Australia after a seven-year absence and at the end of what he said has been the greatest year of his career.

“Well, I mean, it sits on top,” the reigning Masters champion said when asked where 2017 sits in the history of his golfing career. “I think 2017 and 2008 are definitely the best years I've had in my career.

In 2008, Garcia won the Players Championship, the HSBC-Champions (before it became a WGC event), finished runner-up at the PGA Championship and in his own country won the Castello Masters.

That year he rose to a career high of world number two and although now currently in 11th place in the world ranking he believes, perhaps understandably given his major championship breakthrough, this year overshadows 2008.  

"This one, it's a little bit more special because I won three times in Europe, which I've never done in my career; obviously winning the Masters, getting married, you know, expecting a little baby girl. So it is definitely a top. But yeah, like I said, 2008 would be second and then some other ones."

Garcia’s last appearance in this country was when finishing 28th at the 2010 Australian Masters at Victoria Golf Club on the Melbourne sandbelt and if his comments today were anything to go by it will not be another seven years before he is back again.

“I'm obviously very excited to be back in Australia, a part of Australia that I've never been to, so it's great fun,” said Garcia.

“We (Garcia and his wife Angela) got here yesterday and we were a little bit tired, but relaxed, and a little more of today, same thing, just kind of relaxed a little bit.  It's the last part of the year, so trying to make sure we control the energy levels for the week. 

"It's beautiful,” he added when referring to the Gold Coast although admitted he had yet to see much of it. “I mean, what we've seen, it's obviously beautiful. But I think the whole Australia is beautiful, one of my favorite countries. So we're extremely happy to be back here and going to enjoy the week, for sure.”

The Spaniard was asked as to the motivation he had in coming to Australia.

“I've always been a big fan of Australia. I've been talking to my managers for a couple years now saying, you know, I would love to go back. Japan is another place that I want to go back again because I haven't been there in a while. 

“Everybody knows how much I love to play all over the world. So that was one of the biggest motivations to be back here, which is a place I enjoy coming back and playing. I think it's quite simple when it gets down to that, it's places that you want to be.”

Garcia, whose major breakthrough at Augusta came in his 74th major appearance, said he was not surprised by the increased level of interest and expectation as a result of becoming the third Spaniard to win at Augusta National.

“Fortunately or unfortunately for me, that expectation and that kind of outside pressure has always been there. So the way I look at it is, you know, I mean obviously I'm extremely honored to call myself the Masters champion and to try to help the game of golf not only in Spain but all over the world. 

“I think at the end of the day it just ‑ what matters is what I expect from myself. I know what I want to do and I know where my expectations are and I know what I need to improve on.

"So if I can do that, I know that my game is still in great shape. And I'm still fairly young, so I can still achieve many, many things.  But it's fun to be able to have those possibilities and kind of put some nice expectations for yourself.”

What has been amazing from Garcia's point of view is the amount of interest in the Green Jacket wherever he has taken it.

“I thought I knew how big the Masters was and the Green Jacket and how much it meant, but then once you win it and you start traveling with it and you see the reaction from not only the people but the players and everything, you realise how massive it is and how much of an icon that the Green Jacket is.

“So it's been amazing. It's been a little bit overwhelming I would say. It also shows you the respect that you need to give to that green jacket. You know, once you become a Masters champion, there's a lot of things that you have to be careful of.

"You have to take care of it and you just can't do freely, you have to know that a lot of eyes are on you even more than before and you want to show what's best not only for yourself but for the game."

When asked if at the end of a long and demanding season he could still get up and perform well this week Garcia said: “Obviously, I'm not going to lie to you, last week I was a little bit tired and probably because of that mentally I wasn't quite as sharp and probably that's why I struggled a little bit on the greens more than I usually do. But that doesn't mean that if I get in a good rhythm here I can’t have a great week.

“I am excited about Christmas and some down time, but at the same time, like I said, I'm real excited about this week because I haven't played in Australia for a long time and I'm excited to play in front of all the Aussies again and I get to enjoy them as much as they will enjoy me.”

Following this week, Garcia and his wife head to Queenstown in New Zealand for a short break before winding down what has been a stunningly successful season.

It might become even more so this week. 

BRETT RUMFORD: SHORT GAME GURU

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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