AUGUSTA, Ga. – A lot can change in a year. But for Sergio Garcia, these last 12 months have felt like a decade of transformation.
So the 38-year-old’s return to Augusta? As one might expect, it’s nothing but good vibes.
“I’m excited. I’m really excited for many reasons,” Garcia said. “It’s been three amazing days already, starting Sunday. The feel that you get and the receptions that you get coming to Augusta as a Masters champion is different.”
It’s certainly a stark contrast to the past. Just six years ago, Garcia infamously uttered at Augusta National, “I’m not good enough … I don’t have the thing I need to have. In 13 years I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to play for second or third place (in majors).”
Even after he proved himself wrong five years later, Garcia does not wish he could take that statement back.
Changes have been rolling in fast on Garcia, but he likes to keep his penchant for honesty consistent.
“I don’t regret it because, like I said earlier, for good or for bad, you guys, the media, you guys are always asking for people to be truthful,” Garcia said. “I’m not sure there’s many more out there more truthful than myself.”
There will be one hole for Garcia, though, this year. Robert Chapman III, an Augusta National member and a close friend to the Spaniard, passed away in August at age 66.
Garcia, who enters the week with top 10s in his last three starts, is wearing a green ribbon on his hat this week to honor his late friend – a man who befriended him quickly when he started qualifying for the Masters.
Thankfully, Chapman was there last April to see Garcia finish off his first major title. It’s a memory Garcia still holds dear.
“I remember the hug we had just as we finished at the 18th hole, just before the prize giving. I remember he was right behind me on the right on the prize giving, and it was very special,” Garcia said. “I know that he wanted me to win, many people wanted me to win, but he wanted me to win so badly, and fortunately at least he got to see that. So I hope he’s enjoying it up there.”
On a happier note, Garcia has a ritual this year he couldn’t turn to in 2017.
Akins made a big deal of positive reinforcement with her then fiancee at last year’s Masters. That hasn’t changed this week, but the methodology is even more effective.
“She gets to bring our beautiful (daughter) Azalea to me every morning to make sure that I give her a kiss,” Garcia said. “That’s more than enough (for positive reinforcement).”
Can Garcia go back-to-back at Augusta National? If attitude is indicative, you have to like his chances.