Perhaps one of the best things about the new wraparound schedule that the PGA Tour implemented this season was also one of the most obvious. More golf – more meaningful golf, really – isn’t just a good thing for fans. It’s a great boost for players, some more than others.
That’s why it’s so interesting to think that Sergio Garcia, who only played two tournaments in the late part of 2013 to begin this new season, might have made out the best. Sure, he played well at the CIMB Classic and the WGC-HSBC Champions, but more than anything, there was no time in what used to be the “offseason” for people to linger on all the drama that followed the Spaniard last year.
This week marks a year since Garcia’s ages-old rivalry with Tiger Woods boiled over one more time. If you’ve followed any of the coverage of the tournament this week, surely you’ve been reminded. Sergio blamed Tiger for pulling a club during his swing, Tiger fired back, and the battle was on. Sergio certainly seemed to let it get the best of him, as things went awry both on and off the course.
This year, though, something in Sergio seems different. He’s played mostly stellar golf, racking up four top ten finishes in just seven events. Even though he missed the cut at the Masters, he seems to be carrying himself a little more upright, confident that as long as he takes care of business between the ropes, the rest will take care of itself.
While that all may be easier said than done in this week’s star-studded field, there’s absolutely no reason it can’t work. Garcia, despite a limited schedule, ranks second on Tour in adjusted scoring average, and sixth in par-4 scoring, an area that will be of the utmost importance this week. Other than perhaps Matt Kuchar and Rory McIlroy, few golfers have contended as consistently as the Spaniard.
Garcia has mostly refused to speak about last year’s incidents, and for good reason. One of the things we’ve always wanted from him was to see some growth, some move toward maturity. That doesn’t mean he has to lose his fiery edge, the honest emotion that makes him who he is.
At 34 years old, it seems like Garcia is finally in a place where he can truly put the past behind him. In golf, a short memory normally leads to success, so look for Garcia to maximize his potential at one of his favorite courses.