IT HAS been a momentous year for European golf to say the least and Sergio Garcia’s return to winning ways is certainly among one of the many highlights.
For its poignancy, and to an extent the surprise nature of it, you’d be hard pressed to look past Darren Clarke’s achievement of winning The Open as the standout moment, but it has also been a landmark year for Rory McIlroy and Luke Donald.
Garcia, meanwhile, has been through the full range of emotions as a golfer over the last few years, from dropping out of the world’s top 50 to suffering continued heartache at the Majors, and that’s what makes his back-to-back successes all the more uplifting.
Throughout his dip, however, he remained one of the cleanest strikers of the ball in world golf, albeit one who struggled for composure every time he stood over a putt.
Those sorts of putting issues can strike at any stage and while they’re not always easily rectifiable, it’s more of a mental issue than anything else.
For that reason I’ve always felt it inevitable that someone as ferociously competitive as Garcia would return to his rightful place among the elite.
I’ve not detected anything discernibly different in his putting stroke during his victories at the Andalucia and Castello Masters, which confirms to me his problems were in his head, rather than any sort of technical glitch.
His success on Sunday earned him a shot at this week’s Champions event in Shanghai and it will be interesting to see how he performs at course not as familiar to him as the ones he’s won around recently.
That said, with his confidence sky high again and the force of momentum behind him, I’d anticipate him featuring prominently again and further improve his world ranking.
Garcia will compete in Shanghai alongside young McIlroy, who banked a cool £1.25m following his victory in the same city on Sunday.
Any victory is a good one and although he’ll be disappointed at having blown a three-shot overnight lead, it will serve him well in the long-run to have toughed one out when he wasn’t playing at his best.
After his collapse at the Masters, there were lingering doubts about his ability to regain his composure when the chips are down, but the fact McIlroy managed to do so with Anthony Kim breathing down his neck has put that theory to bed.
There has been a touch of controversy surrounding the US Open champion following his decision to switch management stables , but he responded in the best possible fashion and he’ll be the man to beat this week.
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