Photo from Golf Digest
My favorite sport to watch on TV is golf. A close second is football (American football). Third is bowling. From talking to friends, or rather me talking while they look at me incredulously, I gather that’s an unusual grouping of sports.
But today I’m writing about golf. I have been to golf tournaments and there is definitely a thrill in the experience and a chance to see pros up close. But I prefer to watch on the television. I can see various pairs almost simultaneously and I like the commentary.
I love to watch all the games from American tournaments to the European championships to the Senior tour (which isn’t called that anymore) to the LPGA tour.
My favorite golfer since 1999 has been Sergio Garcia. I first noticed him winning an amateur competition and seeing that Seve Ballasteros took him under his wing.
Being honest, I have to admit that he had a big leg up in my mind and heart because he’s from Spain. I’ve studied Spanish since 7th grade, visited Spain once, and then lived there for a time period in college.
I was a Seve Ballasteros fan since the mid-70’s and was devastated when he was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2008 and died in 2011. His influence and his death both had a huge effect on Sergio Garcia.
What was frustrating watching Sergio play, like stomach-in-my-throat heart-wrenching frustration was watching Sergio clutch in the Major Championships in the US. Not so on the European Tour, but definitely in the big championships here. He would be in the lead for days and then on the last 9 holes of the last day he would fall apart.
It didn’t seem to be stress and certainly wasn’t pressure from the fans; he had been competing professionally for a long time.
It was like he psyched himself out.
Sergio came in 2nd in the PGA Championship twice and the Open Championship twice, with one of those each a tie for 2nd. He went from leader to drop down the leader board many times. Justin Ray of the Golf Channel tweeted out on April 9th “Sergio Garcia: most career top-10s in majors all-time at time of 1st major victory (22)” See, I’m just a little obsessed.
Last Sunday, April 9, 2017, Sergio Garcia was in the lead, then almost gave the game away, then won in a playoff against Justin Rose to win the 2017 Masters Championship. He now wears the coveted green jacket won twice by his hero Seve Ballesteros. To make this particularly poignant, April 9th, had Seve still been alive, would have been his 60th birthday.
Sergio Garcia won the Masters this year in a nail-biting last 18 holes on Sunday. He is over this self-imposed jinx and I feel he will win more majors from now on.
Sergio Garcia would still have been my hero had he not won this year. But I feel this win will get him out of his self-imposed fear of not winning majors on the PGA Tour. And I will be cheering him on in each tournament and rejoicing his every win.
Congratulations, Sergio, from one of your biggest fans.