Sergio Garcia (1 Masters, 8 Ryder Cup's.)
Sergio García Fernández (pronounced: [ˈseɾxjo ɣaɾˈθi.a feɾˈnandeθ]; born 9 January 1980) is a Spanish professional golfer who plays on both the PGA Tour and the European Tour. García has won 30 international tournaments as a professional, most notably the 2008 Players Championship and the 2017 Masters Tournament. Garcia is also the Chairman of Spanish football team CF Borriol.
García has spent much of his career in the top 10 of the Official World Golf Ranking, including over 300 weeks in the top 10 between 2000 and 2009, and over 400 weeks in the top 10 in total. García reached his highest career ranking, 2nd, after winning the HSBC Champions tournament in November 2008. García has achieved career earnings of more than US$43 million. As a player, he is noted for strong iron play and accuracy. In the Ryder Cup, García competed in eight of the nine matches playing during his professional career cumulatively earning 22.5 points during those matches.
García began playing golf at the age of three and was taught by his father, Victor, who is a club professional. García won his club championship at age 12. Four years later, he set a record as the youngest player to make the cut at a European Tour event, the 1995 Turespaña Open Mediterranea. This record was broken by amateur Jason Hak in November 2008 at the UBS Hong Kong Open, beating García's record by 107 days. In 1995, García became the youngest player to win the European Amateur. He followed that with a win in the Boys Amateur Championship in 1997. He won a professional tournament, the 1997 Catalonian Open as an amateur. In 1998, he won The Amateur Championship and reached the semi-finals of the U.S. Amateur. and finished second in the 1998 Argentine Open, being the low amateur and winning the Pereira Iraola Cup.
García turned professional in 1999 after shooting the lowest amateur score in the 1999 Masters Tournament. His first title on the European Tour came in his sixth start as a professional, in July 1999 at the Irish Open. He first achieved worldwide prominence with a duel against Tiger Woods in the 1999 PGA Championship, where he eventually finished second, losing by one stroke. Late in the final round, García with his ball up against a tree trunk in the right rough on the 16th hole, and the green hidden from view, he swung hard with his eyes shut and hit a low curving fade that ran up onto the green. As the shot traveled, he sprinted madly into the fairway and then scissor-kick jumped to see the result. Shortly afterwards he became the youngest player ever to compete in the Ryder Cup.
In 2002, during a practice round, García made an albatross (double eagle) on the par-5 second hole at the Masters, one of the few players to have ever done so. On the 575-yard (526 m) hole at the Augusta National Golf Club, he holed a 253-yard (231 m) 2-iron following a 325-yard (297 m) drive.
When García first turned professional, he had an unorthodox swing with a circular loop and long large lag, and this method drew comparisons to Ben Hogan, one of the best players of all time. But during the 2003 season, he worked towards making his swing more conventional, but has largely kept his original method. In his early years, he repeatedly gripped, released, and regripped his hands on the club handle before finally taking a shot. This "waggle" habit created a stir, especially at the 2002 U.S. Open when some spectators shouted out, "Hit the ball, Sergio!", and some people audibly counted the number of regrips into the twenties. Since then he has eliminated the habit. Responding to criticism of his swing, he said, "My swing works for me, so why should I change it? I prefer to have a natural swing and play well rather than a perfect swing and not be able to play good."
At the age of 21, García won his first PGA Tour event at the 2001 MasterCard Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and then won again at the Buick Classic in New York the same year. He was the youngest Tour winner since Tiger Woods in 1996 at age 20. In 2002, García won the Mercedes Championships in early January, and in 2004, he won the EDS Byron Nelson Championship and the Buick Classic for the second time. His sixth PGA Tour victory came at the 2005 Booz Allen Classic. He also plays a limited schedule on the European Tour, where he has thirteen tour level victories to his name.
García has been a member of every European Ryder Cup team since 1999, with the exception of 2010, and has a career record at the Ryder Cup of 19–11–7 (.608). He has been in five winning sides and contributed 22.5 points in total. This is joint fifth on the all-time European points list, level with Seve Ballesteros.
In the 2006 Ryder Cup, at the K Club in Republic of Ireland, García won both his fourball and foursome matches (with José María Olazábal and Luke Donald, respectively) on day one, beating David Toms and Brett Wetterich in the fourballs and Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk in the foursomes. On day two, he paired up with Olazábal again, who won both their matches against Phil Mickelson and Chris DiMarco in both the foursomes and fourballs. Going into the final day in the singles, García was heavily tipped to be the second person to win all their matches in one Ryder Cup; however, Stewart Cink beat him 4 and 3. Europe won the cup again, with 18½ points to the United States' 9½ points.
In March 2007, García received criticism for a spitting incident at the WGC-CA Championship. During his third round García spat into the bottom of the cup on the 13th green after three-putting for bogey. After missing the cut in the first two major championships of 2007, García came close to winning The Open Championship – his favorite of the four majors – at Carnoustie Golf Links in Scotland. He held the lead after each one of the first three rounds and carried a three-shot lead over Steve Stricker and a six-shot lead over the rest of the field into the start of the fourth day.
At an early stage of the last round, García had extended his lead to four shots, but bogeys at the 5th, 7th, and 8th holes brought him back to the field. On the final challenging hole, he needed a par to win, but failed to get up and down from the greenside bunker. The last putt on the 18th hole on Sunday, from about 8 feet (2.4 m), would have given him his first professional major. He missed it by a fraction and faced a four-hole playoff with Pádraig Harrington that he eventually lost by one stroke.
In his post-round news conference, García seemed to suggest that bad breaks had cost him the Open championship. During the playoff, on the long par-3 16th hole, his tee shot hit the flagstick but then bounced 20 feet (6 m) from the pin, off the green, and García could not convert for birdie. "It's not the first time, unfortunately," he stated. "I don't know... I'm playing against a lot of guys out there, more than the field." In the 2007 PGA Championship, he was disqualified after signing an incorrect scorecard after the third round.
On 11 May 2008, García won The Players Championship on the PGA Tour in a sudden-death playoff against Paul Goydos. The playoff began at the par-3 17th, where Goydos hit a pitching wedge that ballooned and fell inches short of the island green and into the water, while García played a sand wedge to within four feet (1.3 m) of the hole. Goydos made double bogey while García made par for the win.
At the 2008 PGA Championship, played over the South Course of Oakland Hills Country Club near Detroit, García narrowly missed out on winning his first professional major championship yet again. Like at the 2007 Open Championship, Pádraig Harrington was able to erase a García lead on the back nine to take the title. García finished two strokes back for his second runner-up finish at the PGA Championship. His most serious mistake during the final round was misjudging his second shot on the 16th, playing into a strong wind, which found the water in front of the par-4 hole's green, costing him sole ownership of the lead. Regarding another near-miss in a major championship, García stated, "I felt like I responded well, and he was obviously very good on the back nine, and things just happened his way."
On 26 October 2008, he won his first European Tour title in over three years, at the first playing of the Castelló Masters Costa Azahar at his home course, the Club de Campo del Mediterráneo in Castellón, Spain. With this win, he rose to a career high of third in the Official World Golf Rankings. He dedicated the victory to compatriot Seve Ballesteros, who was recovering from multiple operations from the brain tumor that would ultimately claim Ballesteros' life. He won the 2008 HSBC Champions, the opening event on the 2009 European Tour season on 9 November 2008 in a playoff over Oliver Wilson. This win notched him up to a career high second in the Official World Golf Rankings, replacing Phil Mickelson in that spot, who had coincidentally won the HSBC Champions in 2007. García earned more money than any other golfer in 2008, earning $6,979,959 in 26 events.
After his success in 2008, García had a very disappointing season in 2009, rarely contending and finished ranked 74th on the PGA Tour money list. He had more success on the European Tour where he finished tenth in the inaugural Race to Dubai. His slump continued into 2010, and after missing the cut at the US PGA Championship, García announced he was taking a break from golf and would miss the 2010 Ryder Cup. He also dropped out of the top 50 of the Official World Golf Rankings. Struggles with the putter were the primary cause of his slump, since his ballstriking remained among the best in the world. On 29 August 2010, European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie announced that García would be his fourth vice captain for the 2010 Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor.
García returned to competitive play in late 2010 with a new putting grip and this produced better results for him on the greens during tournaments in 2011. After 36 holes, he was near the lead in both the 2011 Transitions Championship and the 2011 Byron Nelson Championship, but both times faded on the weekend to fall out of contention.
García had to withdraw from qualifying for the 2011 Open Championship because of an infected finger. He had originally planned against qualifying for the 2011 U.S. Open, where he was outside the top-50 in the OWGR and was not guaranteed automatic entry. He eventually earned a spot in the U.S. Open after being one of the top four at a qualifying tournament near Memphis. García played well in all four rounds of the U.S. Open, ending in a tie for seventh place at five-under par 279. García finished tied for ninth place in The 2011 Open Championship at Royal St George's. This was his 17th career top-10 finish in a major.
In late June 2011, García almost broke his winless streak dating back to 2008, when he lost at the fifth sudden-death playoff hole to fellow Spaniard Pablo Larrazábal at the BMW International Open. García led the tournament after the 11th hole of the final round with a stunning stretch of holes, which saw him produce three birdies and two eagles in six holes, from holes six to eleven. However his charge to the finish was derailed by four bogeys in five holes, leaving him needing a birdie at the last to make the playoff. In the playoff, both players made consecutive birdies at the first two extra holes (both par 5s) before parring holes three and four (both par 3s). At the fifth extra hole, García had a 30-foot (9 m) eagle putt for the victory, but ran the effort four feet (1.3 m) past the hole. The resulting putt lipped out, allowing Larrazábal to hole a two-foot birdie putt for the victory.
García's runner-up finish at the BMW International Open ensured qualification for the 2011 Open Championship at Royal St George's, through the current form money list exemption. García went on to finish tied for 9th place at the Open Championship, his best finish for four years. He continued the run at the 2011 PGA Championship where he finished in a tie for 12th place, extending his streak to 50 consecutive majors played, the longest streak among active players. In October 2011, García ended a three-year title drought with back-to-back wins in his home country at the Castelló Masters and the Andalucía Masters. García won the Castelló Masters in dominant fashion, with a final score of 27-under-par, 11 strokes ahead of the field. It was the joint third highest victory margin on the European Tour, beaten only by Tiger Woods' 15 stroke victory at the 2000 U.S. Open and Ernie Els' 13 stroke win at the 2005 BMW Asian Open. After the win, García dedicated it to the late Seve Ballesteros, stating "That was for Seve."
The following week, García won the Andalucía Masters, played at the Club de Golf Valderrama, arguably regarded as one of the toughest golf courses on the European Tour. He edged out fellow countryman Miguel Ángel Jiménez by one shot after a tense final round. Following his back-to-back wins, García moved back into the top 20 of the Official World Golf Ranking. In August 2012, García ended a four-year title drought on the PGA Tour by winning the Wyndham Championship. In doing so, García also secured his place on the 2012 Ryder Cup team. In December 2012, García fired a final round 61 to win the Iskandar Johor Open on the Asian Tour.
While tied for the lead at the 2013 Players Championship, García hit three balls into the water on the 17th and 18th holes, finishing quadruple-bogey, double-bogey. He finished tied for 8th place. After the tournament ended, García and Tiger Woods (who won the tournament) had a public feud over an incident that occurred during the third round. Two weeks later, at a European Tour players dinner, García was asked about meeting with Woods at the U.S. Open, to which he responded, "We'll have him 'round every night. We will serve fried chicken." The remark was seen as racially insensitive. García issued a statement later that night apologizing and then issued another apology the next day, saying that his comments were "totally stupid and out of place."
In July 2014, García finished joint runner-up at the 2014 Open Championship, two strokes behind Rory McIlroy. This was the second time García had finished as a runner-up at The Open Championship and fourth time in a major championship, having still yet to break through. García began the final round seven strokes behind McIlroy, but got to within two after an eagle on the 10th hole. However his challenge was ended when he left his second shot in the bunker at the par three 15th which he would bogey to fall three behind with three to play. This finish moved García back inside the world's top five in the world rankings.
The biggest result of García's 2015 season was at the 2015 Players Championship; where he tied Rickie Fowler and Kevin Kisner at 12 under par after 72 holes. He was then eliminated after the three-hole playoff, after finishing two strokes behind Fowler and Kisner. Fowler would go on to win in sudden-death. On the Asian Tour, he won the Ho Tram Open in Phước Thuận, Vietnam, beating Lin Wen-tang, Himmat Rai and Thaworn Wiratchant in a four-way playoff.
As the year before at The Players Championship, García came very close to another win on the PGA Tour at The Honda Classic. In a final round showdown with Adam Scott, where the pair started the final round level, the Aussie prevailed by one shot. In May, García won his second AT&T Byron Nelson championship in a playoff over Brooks Koepka. The win was his first on the PGA Tour since 2012 and his ninth career victory, tying Seve Ballesteros for most by a Spanish-born player.
In February 2017, García completed a wire-to-wire victory at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic for his first European Tour title in over three years. The victory was García's 12th of his European Tour career, as he finished three strokes ahead of Henrik Stenson. The victory moved García back inside the top-10 and after the win García said "Hopefully it will be the beginning of a great year."
On 9 April 2017, in his 74th major championship, García broke through and won the Masters Tournament with victory on the first sudden-death playoff hole against Justin Rose. García become the third Spanish player to win The Masters, after Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal. The victory also came on the same day that Ballesteros would have turned sixty.
García had previously shot rounds of 71-69-70 over the first three rounds to enter the final round at six-under par and in the co-lead with Rose, who played together in the final group. This represented García's second career 54-hole lead/co-lead at a major championship, after the 2007 Open Championship. García began the final round strongly, with two birdies on his opening three holes and he forged a three shot lead early on. Rose came back though and following bogeys on the 10th and 11th for García, Rose opened up a two shot lead.
The 13th hole was then pivotal, as García scrambled a par and Rose missed a short birdie putt to keep the gap at two shots. García would then birdie the next hole and eagle the par five 15th to tie Rose with three holes remaining. They then both hit their tee shots at the 16th close, but only Rose converted, to again lead by one. Rose however would make a mistake at the 17th, leading to a dropped shot and meaning both players were tied going up the 72nd hole. Both players hit their approach shots close on the 18th green, but Rose burnt the lip with his birdie putt. García had a five-foot putt to win the tournament in regulation play but pushed it right resulting in a playoff as both players finished level on 9-under-par after 72 holes.
Playing the 18th hole again, Rose hit his tee shot into the pine straw, meaning his second shot was blocked off by trees, so could only advance his ball 50 yards or so. He played his third to a similar area of the green he had during regulation play. García fired his approach to within twelve feet. Rose's putt for par then missed on the left side of the hole, leaving García with two putts for the win. He only needed one, as he holed his birdie putt for his first major championship.
García became engaged in January 2017 to Golf Channel reporter Angela Akins, the daughter of Marty Akins. He is also the president and chairman of his hometown football club CF Borriol. He maintains residences in Orlando, Florida, Borriol, and Crans-Montana