Sergio Garcia was destined to be a professional golfer. Taught at a young age by his father, Victor (who was a club professional), Garcia was the youngest player ever to make the cut at a European Tour Event at the age of 16. The hype began to surround the teenage sensation after shooting the lowest score by an amateur at the 1999 Masters, earning him the opportunity to turn pro.
It Begins: PGA Tour Card
Garcia, in perhaps his most dramatic finish as a professional, came one stroke short of beating Tiger Woods in the 1999 PGA Championship. The young Garcia, on the 16th hole, shot in desperation from the rough with the green out of vision, somehow manipulating the ball in play and setting himself up for an opportunity to win. He followed the ball as it traveled through the air as fast as he could and leaped up to see where the ball would eventually land cleanly on the fairway. This would set the tone for the rambunctious and gritty personality that Garcia has displayed over his accomplished career.
First Victory and Those That Followed
Garcia won his first PGA tour event at the 2001 Mastercard Colonial at the age of 21, two years after his showdown with Tiger. In the same year, Sergio won the Buick Classic in New York, making him the youngest ever to win such an event since you guessed it, Tiger Woods in 1996.
In 2004 he won the Buick Classic again along with the EDS Byron Nelson Championship. His first Players Championship was in 2008, the very same year he just missed his first Master’s title.
Garcia has been a perennial top ten professional according to the OWGR since entering the pro circuit. However, for the past few years there have been critics categorizing him as a great player, but one who has never won a major. Many lists would put him at the top of such a category, that is until this year when Sergio finally got the monkey off of his back by winning the Masters at Augusta.
Receiving praise from his long-time rival, Tiger Woods, was an indication that he has officially earned his place as one of the best of all-time.
Congrats @TheSergioGarcia. Well earned.
— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) April 9, 2017
Drama On and Off the Course
It was the rivalry/feud with Woods on and off the golf course that has always seemed to fuel Garcia throughout his career. Ever since the 1999 Championship, the two have met in multiple championships/events and have been linked in a few different off-course altercations that have labeled Garcia as sensitive and Woods as an instigator.
Both players were at the top of their game for so long that their competitive spirit would come out, sometimes with repercussions. In 2013, a reporter sarcastically asked Garcia if he would be inviting Woods over for dinner to which he replied that he would be serving “fried chicken”. The racist remark added to the negative antics that have been attached to Garcia’s controversially successful career.
For as much flack has Garcia has gotten off the course, there are very few flaws in his game. When it comes to driving the ball, he is still one of the best to do it. With a high and wide wind-up, Garcias follow through is like no other. Keeping his left arm stiff and long and allowing his right arm to guide his swing softly, Sergio’s club bends significantly while swooping low and connecting accurately with the ball. His weight shifts quite obviously into his left side as he makes contact with the ball, keeping his head down the entire swing. This swing has made him a top 10 golfer for most of his career. According to the OWGR, Garcia finished in this prestigious rank 300 times from 2000 to 2009.
What the Future Holds
If anything has ever held back Garcia, it is his temper. He has the unfortunate ability to take himself out of his own game. At the 2013 Players Championship, Garcia had a total meltdown towards the end of the contest. On the 17th and 18th holes, he finished with a quadruple-bogey and double-bogey respectively plummeting him to an eighth-place finish. He later blamed the poor finish on Tiger Woods, claiming that he caused the audience to cheer while going for his club during Garcia’s shot.
Perhaps Tiger was in fact in Garcia’s head ever since their epic battle in 1999. Now that Tiger has missed significant time due to an ailing back injury, Garcia has finally emerged on top. With his biggest rival potentially through as a pro golfer, Garcia could see the most success he has had as he is still 37 years old.