Sergio Garcia: Destiny helped me achieve Masters dream
Sergio Garcia had saddled up 73 times trying to win a major golf tournament and fallen short 73 times.
But there was something different on his side as he negotiated the revered contours of Augusta National during this year’s Masters: destiny.
“I believe that things happen for a reason,” Garcia told CNN’s Living Golf show of his landmark triumph. “I believe that for some reason, I was meant to win.
“I felt great throughout the whole week. I believe that everything that happened throughout my career, good and bad, made the win at the Masters even better. Now we can really appreciate how hard it is and how sweet it is to have it.
“It seemed like things just were meant to happen for me that week, because everything that needed to happen, happened at the right time. Thanks to that we were able to win it.”
Those tumultuous four days in April served as a microcosm of an often torturous 18-year pursuit of a first major championship.
Garcia had come agonizingly close to realizing his dream on several occasions.
He shot to prominence at the 1999 US PGA Championship, aged just 19, but ended up on the wrong side of a duel with 14-time major champion Tiger Woods.
He would also finish runner-up at the 2008 installment after squandering a lead to Padraig Harrington and he missed a putt to win the 2007 Open, eventually losing out to the Irishman in a playoff.
Ebullient and emotional in equal measure, Garcia collected an army of fans along the way who willed him to go again when he declared after an especially demoralizing Saturday at the 2012 Masters: “I’m not good enough.”
A thrilling final day five years on saw Garcia extend his lead, relinquish it, then battle back to parity with his main rival for the title, Justin Rose. When he missed a putt to win on the final green, many thought Garcia was destined to be the bridesmaid yet again.
But the 37-year-old held his nerve to beat Rose on the first playoff hole and delight those who’d ridden the rollercoaster with him.
“I’m definitely very proud of what I’ve been able to achieve,” he explained.
“Winning Augusta was something spectacular and amazing. And to see, not only how great it felt for me and my team, but for so many people.
“I’ve seen so many great gestures of people of how happy they were when they saw me win and that means a lot.”
Part of Garcia’s resurgence in recent years has been credited to happiness off the course.
He is due to marry fiancee Angela Akins, a Golf Channel reporter, in July and revealed after his Masters win that she had left motivational post-it notes on his bathroom mirror during the tournament.
It might have taken the best part of two decades to land the first one, but could his Masters breakthrough open the door to more success?
“I certainly hope so,” he said. “I’ve been close to winning four or five majors at least before winning at Augusta and unfortunately, it hasn’t happened.
“But I’m excited to keep trying to improve, keep getting better keep giving myself chances to win more. Now that we have one the next step is to try to get the second one.
“It’s just a matter of keep working hard, believing in our ability and what we can do and see how many we can take or how far we can go.”
Life for Garcia could have taken a very different turn had he managed to get over the line in that 2008 US PGA tournament.
Having already won the low amateur medal at Augusta in 1999, his first victory as a professional came on just his sixth start.
Had he bested Woods, who would go on to prove himself one of the best the world has ever seen, it would have been seen as the natural ascension for a teenage prodigy and his life would most likely have taken a different trajectory.
“I’ll definitely say that if I won a major early — it’s all speculation — I might have taken things differently,” he said. “I might not have appreciated it the way that I do now.
“I was meant to win that one and not all the other four or five that that I had chances before. We’re enjoying it as much as we can because it was hard but I think we deserved it.”