Christmas came early for Sergio Garcia on Sunday, when the Spaniard ended a wait of almost two years for a title by winning Vietnam’s Ho Tram Open on the Asian Tour.
He didn’t do it the easy way, squandering a two-shot lead with a double bogey at the 17th hole, but recovered his nerve to come through a four-man play-off and earn a first win since January 2014.
In truth, it doesn’t matter how convincing a victory was once you have your hands on the trophy. He had been playing well without winning for some time, so he’ll have been delighted to take the next step.
Garcia is a popular player and I’d love to see him win a Major. He’s had chances, and may feel he should have beaten Padraig Harrington to two of his – the 2007 Open, and the US PGA Championship the following year.
It would be the icing on the cake for the 35-year-old, who has won just about everything else in the game, including The Players Championship, but as yet it hasn’t happened for him.
For the past four or five years his putting has been a weakness, and while for most players that would be their downfall, he has managed to limit the damage.
Some would try to compensate for that by aiming their shots closer to the pin. Garcia, however, has stuck to his game and remains among the top 10 ball strikers in the world.
Lately there have been signs of improvement in his putting. Maybe this long-awaited triumph could prove a turning point.
Another man hoping to build on his success at the weekend will be Marc Leishman, the Australian who lost a play-off at the Open but won the Nedbank Challenge in stifling Sun City at the weekend.
A first European Tour title marks a significant step for the 32-year-old, whose rollercoaster season also saw him pull out of the Masters when his wife fell seriously ill.
Missing out on the Open at St Andrews to Zach Johnson will have hurt, but he will also have taken confidence from a display that showed he could compete with the very best.
Leishman, who has climbed to a career-high world ranking of 26, can now enjoy the holidays having ended the year on a high, and safe in the knowledge he has secured his place at next year’s Majors.
England’s Danny Willett put up a decent defence to finish joint fourth, while compatriot Chris Wood recovered from heatstroke to finish a very creditable third.
I’ve suffered from the same ailment while playing at Sun City myself and remember it being horrible, forcing me to abandon a round even though I had just two holes left to play.
Final congratulations, too, go to Bubba Watson for his 25-under-par winning score at the Hero World Challenge, and young Nathan Holman’s success at a tournament I know well, the Australian PGA Championship.