08 June 2017
El Niño is Back!
For so long Sergio Garcia has been the “nearly man” missing out on championship titles in the closing holes and becoming known as the best golfer to never have won a major. After finally making his dramatic breakthrough victory at the Masters his name once again resonates through the golf world for the right reasons.
Sergio Garcia was predicted to be the golfer who would continue Spain's glory after Severiano Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal. Based on his great achievements on the amateur circuit - twenty-one victories, including the low amateur title at the 1999 US Masters - and possessing the talent, the touch, and the temerity to become one of golf’s all-time best, there were high expectations of what Garcia could do. That expectation was raised even further when he finished second at the 1999 PGA Championship, the fourth major of the season, just a short few months after turning pro.
However, Garcia’s journey as a professional never quite reached the dizzying heights that so many expected. The Spaniard was unable to clinch a Major title. Garcia came close to victory in several of the Major tournaments but always fell short, and the expectations slowly began to fade. Pushed aside by emerging young golf stars, Garcia fell off the radar.
Then, in his 74th major event, the 2017 US Masters Tournament, Garcia sped back into focus. After almost two decades he was able to put his demons to rest and claim his long sought-after Major title after a sudden-death victory over Justin Rose.
“El Niño” was back. This is his story…
What was Sergio Garcia’s childhood like?
Born on January 9, 1980, in Borriol, Spain, Garcia was the second of three children. The Garcias lived in an apartment just a couple miles from Mediterraneo Golf Club where his father, Victor Senior, worked as a caddy.
How did golf come into his life?
The Garcia children acquired their love of golf from their father who had worked as a caddy growing up in the 1960s. At just two years old, Sergio began mimicking his father’s swing with a broom or feather duster. His father cut down a set of clubs for his son when he was three. Sergio often worked on his game on his own. He sneaked out onto the Mediterraneo Golf Club course and practiced hitting difficult shots between trees and from uneven lies. The Garcia children all loved golf and became golf athletes but Sergio was the most talented of the three.
Why was Garcia dubbed El Niño and is it true he doesn’t like the nickname?
At age twelve, in 1992, Garcia won Mediterraneo’s club championship. In the same year, he also fired his first sub-70 round. The media dubbed the 12-year-old El Niño. However, the Spanish wonder-kid didn’t like the nickname. "One of my wishes this year is for my nickname to drop out of use," said Garcia, as quoted by Spanish sports daily AS, after his 1999 runner-up finish to Tiger at the US PGA. "I've been called 'El Niño' since I was 14. It doesn't really bother me but wouldn't it be more normal to call me Sergio?"
Of the disappointments, which was Garcia’s biggest?
It came at The Open Championship in 2007 when he blew a four-shot lead in the final round after making three bogeys on the front nine. Sergio had a chance to win on the 18th, but he hit his approach into the bunker. A putt for par meant he had to face Padraig Harrington in a four-hole playoff, which he lost by one stroke.
What was Garcia able to show people at Augusta?
Most obviously, Garcia finally proved everyone in the golfing world who believed he would never win a major, wrong. Aside from that, he also showed a very different attitude: a quiet and steely game-day confidence that had never been seen before. “I felt much calmer than I felt on any major championship Sunday,” said Garcia, as quoted by Mirror.co.uk.
In addition to golf, what other sports does Garcia love?
Sergio also loves and enjoys playing tennis or football in his spare time. He’s a Real Madrid fan. His passion for football encouraged him to accept the role of President of Borriol CF, a Third Division team in the Spanish football league. In 2010, he even played for the team on September 12, in a match against Ribarroja CF.
What’s in Garcia’s Bag
Driver: TaylorMade M2 (9.5 degrees)
Fairway-wood: TaylorMade M1 (15 and 19 degrees)
Irons: TaylorMade P750 (3-PW)
Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52 and 58 degrees)
Putter: TaylorMade Spider Red
Ball: TaylorMade TP5