Garcia on Garcia

Paco Jarque won The Masters. If you’ve ever met the new president of the Casino Español de Cebu, Paco Jarque looks like Sergio Garcia. What a victory for the Español! I watched highlights of last Sunday’s final round and it was a heart-stomping, rollercoaster battle.

I asked the best Garcia golfer in Cebu to comment on the best Garcia golfer on the planet.

Bayani Garcia said: “Everybody in the golfing circles agree that before this win, he was undoubtedly the best player to have never won a major championship.”

That’s true. Now 37, Sergio turned pro in 1999 and spent the last 18 years attempting to win a major.

“When he first burst in the scene with his unforgettable duel against Tiger Woods during the 1999 PGA Championship at Medinah, people were predicting that this was the person who could go toe to toe against Tiger and perhaps become the next best thing in golf,” said the Cebuano Garcia, Bayani. “He had the charm, charisma and no doubt the game to do so.”

Sergio Garcia finally succeeded on his 74th major start. And it couldn’t have happened on a more symbolic day. Last Sunday, April 9, the great Seve Ballesteros, whom Garcia idolized, passed away nearly six years ago of brain cancer and would have turned 60.

“Over the next few years, he (Sergio) wasn’t the ‘bright star’ that everyone expected of him,” Bayani Garcia added. “Yes, he won a few tournaments, including the so-called ‘5th major,’ the Players Championship. Often times he would be in contention in regular tour events and in majors. In my opinion, he did not succeed in ‘closing’ the wins because as the years went by, doubt and uncertainty crept in. The self-doubt of not being to win a major championship got stronger and it messed up his psyche.”

He almost did not win again two days ago. After leading in Days 2 and 3, when the final day started, Sergio established a two-shot lead over his Ryder Cup teammate, Justin Rose. But midway through the day, that advantage evaporated. Heading into the last five holes, it was Rose who led by two. But armed with a serene mind (“I felt much calmer than I felt on any major championship Sunday,” he later admitted), Sergio inched closer until he tied Rose, missed a for-the-win 7-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole; he regrouped as Rose faltered on the first playoff hole.

“I have always believed that Sergio is one of the greatest ball strikers of all time, even better than Tiger. Sergio has always been a streaky putter and that’s why he hasn’t racked up as many wins and majors,” Bayani Garcia said. “Hopefully now that will change after this win. He has validated himself as being one of the best and has gotten that wicked monkey off his back. He is riding on a confidence high. Things are going great in his life on and off the course. I think winning more majors should be a little ‘easier’ since he has won his first.”

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