Blogs & Opinion


Ewen Murray:

Most Popular Posts:

Opinion Archive:

Sergio Garcia: Qatar Masters win shows best days are ahead, says Ewen Murray

Ewen Murray Posted 26th January 2014 view comments

The Qatar Masters had a lot to live up to after the excitement the previous week in Abu Dhabi, but the Commercial Bank event over the sumptuous Doha Golf course more than delivered over four sun-drenched days.

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.

Garcia: a winner again in Qatar

Garcia: a winner again in Qatar

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.

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.

Ewen Murray
Quotes of the week

Dubai Desert Classic

3.30am, Thu, Sky Sports 4

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.

Final event

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.

back to top

Other Golf Experts:

Latest Posts in Golf:

Rob Lee

Out of the woods

Rob Lee heralds the return to form of Lee Westwood and says he could yet win multiple majors....

Rob Lee

Pinky and perky

Rob Lee blogs on his vivid Masters Breakfast attire and the men that made waves at Augusta National....

Latest News RSS feeds

Tiger Woods targeting future

Tiger Woods' foremost concern is ensuring that he has a long-term future in the game, according to his representative.

Dyson shares lead in China

England's Simon Dyson has a share of the lead with Alvaro Quiros after the opening round of the Volvo China Open.

Fast start for Wiesberger

Bernd Wiesberger got his Indonesian Masters title defence off to a good start and lies just one behind the leaders.

Illness lays Stenson low

Henrik Stenson hopes to put up a good show in the Volvo China Open this week despite not feeling 100%.

Poulter: Ryder stars strong

Ian Poulter feels Europe's key Ryder Cup stars are hitting form at just the right time ahead of Gleneagles showpiece.

Features

Zurich Classic: A preview and best bets for this week's PGA Tour event in New Orleans

Zurich Classic: A preview and best bets for this week's PGA Tour event in New Orleans

The PGA Tour pitches up in New Orleans this week as Billy Horschel attempts to defend the Zurich Classic.

Volvo China Open: A preview and best bets for this week's European Tour event

Volvo China Open: A preview and best bets for this week's European Tour event

After two years at Binhai Lake Golf Club, this year's China Open heads to a new course, Genzon Golf Club in Shenzhen.

WTS podcast

WTS podcast

David Moyes, Peter Moores and Mercedes are the hot topics on the What's the Story podcast this week.