As far as defending Masters champions go, Sergio Garcia may rank as the new Augusta National leader in the clubhouse.
Let The Forecaddie repeat that: The once occasionally irritable, often-perplexing Garcia has worn the green jacket with class, dignity and spirit like few others.
“He’s done everything we’ve asked and way more,” said one of the club members who joyfully greeted Garcia, but who did not want to speak for new chairman Fred Ridley.
One look at the 2018 Drive, Chip and Putt competition spoke to Garcia’s interactions with all since he won the Masters. Garcia signed 2017 flags for all of the “DCP” participants, hung out with them at their Saturday night dinner in his green jacket, then spent his Sunday watching the competition.
Charged with handing out trophies for the 10-11 year-old boys, Garcia hugged — you heard The Man Out Front right — hugged — members who clearly have delighted in a year of Garcia as champion.
After exchanging a few words with former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, Garcia watched the Drive, Chip and Putt from off the 18th green before being waived over by Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, who was running the putting festivities.
Garcia congratulated each of the participants. After eventual group winner Tip Price made what turned out to be the clinching putt, the Masters champion offered advice to the lad.
“Just breathe,” he told Price, who listed meeting Garcia as one of the high points in his first trip to the Masters and first time meeting a golfer of Sergio’s stature.
While he still has a Champions Dinner to host, Garcia’s worldwide tour of the jacket is wrapping in Augusta just the way it ended last year: with plenty of good vibrations.