Sergio Garcia: Qatar Masters win shows best days are ahead, says Ewen Murray
With calmness, confidence and great days ahead, few can match Sergio Garcia says Ewen Murray.
Last Updated: 26/01/14 6:17pm
In Sergio Garcia, they have a fine champion. There have been some dark days during the last few years for the 34-year-old Spaniard, but following a win in Thailand at the end of last year, we have seen his smile return and there is a bounce back in his step. He is happy on the course once again, enjoying his golf and there has never been any question about his talent.
His charming partner, Catherina, who caddied for him in his victory in Thailand in the autumn, has introduced a calmness to his life and he is in a good place right now.
Just over five years ago, Sergio was second in the world rankings after his victory in the Players Championship at Sawgrass. His first win on the European Tour since the Andalusian Masters victory in 2011, sees Garcia enter the top 10 again.
I've known Sergio for many years and on a practice day, given the time, I like to walk a few holes with him. At his best, he has few equals. The noise of him striking a golf ball is different. The ball is struck as well as it can be and last he has found a putting stroke that matches the quality of his long game.
Like many, I was saddened to hear him say a year or two back that he was not good enough to win a major. That perhaps highlighted his state of mind then. Like every player he has had setbacks.
His putt rimmed out at Carnoustie to win the Open. His six iron second to the sixteenth at Oakland Hills in the USPGA was a yard short. On both occasions, he lost to Padraig Harrington. That for sure left some scar tissue.
These experiences can make or break a player, the former I believe is the case for Sergio. He has taken stock of his life, given himself time to recover and I'm as certain as I can be that his best days with golden golfing moments lie ahead of him.
Up and coming
With many of Europe's top-ranked players now playing the majority of their golf on the PGA Tour, the young up-and-coming golfers have a great opportunity to make their mark nearer to home.
Three players have sparkled over the first two weeks of the Desert Swing and I'm sure we will hear a lot more from them in the future.
In Abu Dhabi, 22-year-old Tyrrell Hatton birdied four of the last seven holes to edge into the top 10. Tenth on the Challenge Tour rankings last year, he will not play in every tournament, so it was essential he got some Race To Dubai points early in the season.
His storming finish in the HSBC enabled him to start in Qatar and he very nearly repeated the same feat in Doha. A bogey six at the 72nd hole ended his chances of making the Desert Classic via the same route, but I saw enough of him to think he can be a big name by the end of the season.
Tyrrell plays out of the Harleyford golf club and hails from Marlow. His sterling efforts in the Gulf earned him more than €50,000 and that has him in the top 70 before the end of January.
The German Golf Federation took their promising young players to Abu Dhabi for experience.
They didn't play, but the officials had them on the range each day watching how the professionals go about their business. They went to the putting green and walked a few holes with their number one player, Martin Kaymer, and some other of the top names that graced the event.
Later in the day, they were back on the range to see how time was managed, another important part of a tournament professional's life.
Playing on a sponsor's invitation in Qatar was a young German amateur by the name of Dominic Foos. On the day before the tournament, his caddie, Rikki Roberts, who has been alongside Ernie Els during much of the South African's success down the years, called me over to meet Dominic.
It took me back to when I was starting tournament golf; young, fresh faced, excited and eager to get going. A delightful young lad and after watching him shots for a few moments, I was left with the impression that he had an old head on young shoulders as well as a very impressive golf game.
Dominic opened up with a pair of 70s and cruised into the final two rounds by three shots. Another 70 followed on Friday and he would start the final round ahead of the middle order at six under.
Three holes from home, he had progressed to seven under. He birdied the 16th, parred 17, then finished in a blaze of glory reducing the par 5 18th to an eagle three. He finished just six shots behind the winner, Garcia. An amazing performance. Remember the name, Dominic Foos.
Another rookie, 21-year-old Adrien Saddier posted the equal best round of the week, shooting 64 to surge through Friday's field and into the penultimate group for the final round.
Adrien had to go through all three stages of the qualifying school and he earned the sixth card at the PGA Catalunya course in Girona.
He finished sixth in the Nelson Mandela event in Durban, but Saturday in Qatar was a tougher examination for him. He will have better days, but a final round 73 playing alongside Thorbjorn Oleson was nothing to be ashamed of.
I will, and I suspect you will follow the progress of these three youngsters in the months ahead.
And so to the final event of the trilogy that makes up the Desert Swing, the Dubai Desert Classic, which celebrates its quarter of a century on Thursday.
Headlining the field is the world number one, Tiger Woods, fresh from missing the second cut at one of his famed hunting grounds, La Jolla by San Diego. Woods cut a sorry figure as he dropped seven shots in five holes around the turn on Saturday.
I wonder how long his alliance with revered Canadian coach, Sean Foley will last. After three years of working together, Woods is still working on drills. When you are thinking about how to do it, it's extremely hard to score. However, Tiger's work ethic is second to none and it wouldn't surprise anyone if he hit form in the city of gold.
The week gets underway with a past champions event on Tuesday. Of course there will be no Severiano Ballesteros, but the organisers have shown a lot of class by inviting the next Ballesteros generation to compete in the 18-hole match which features early champions like Mark James and Eamon Darcy.
It all promises to be a spectacular week with Rory McIlroy returning to the place of his first victory five years ago. Join us if you can, but I will understand if you can't, at 3.30am on Thursday, Sky Sports 4. We open up with all 18 holes of Tiger's first round.
Last year the three Gulf events were all won by British players, Donaldson, Wood and Gallacher. Two Spaniards have won in Abu Dhabi and Qatar this time round. What odds an Iberian treble?
I'm delighted to be back with this weekly column on the Sky Sports website and if you have any questions or comments, feel free to air them and together we can discuss all matters golf.
I hope the weather picks up at home as it's been a miserable month. Roll on springtime.