Spanish professional golfer Sergio Garcia smiles as he
works on the practice putting green Tuesday afternoon
during the second day of practice for the 117th U.S.
Open Championship at Erin Hills in the town of Erin.
John Ehlke/Daily News
OF ERIN — He stepped onto the driving range, and began
loosely swinging a club.
Wiser and still seemingly youthful after his first win
of a major championship two months ago, Sergio Garcia
began hitting balls on his first day at Erin Hills.
Thwack. Thwack. Thwack. The 37-year-old won the Masters
on his 19th attempt, and questions that arose soon after
putting on his first green jacket were some of the first
repeated Tuesday during a news conference prior to his
first practice round for the 117th U.S. Open.
he win another major? Can he become the seventh player
in golf history to win both The Masters and the U.S.
“It’s been a great experience to be able to call myself
Masters champion, it’s something, it’s a dream come true
and something that I’m extremely proud of,” Garcia said
of his breakthrough. “But like I said after that, after
Augusta, you know, it’s a different week, and that is
not going to give me any advantage when we get on the
still have to focus hard and trust yourself, believe in
your ability, commit to your shots and your thoughts and
then hopefully have another good week here.”
Masters victory served as his 13th top-five finish in a
major and vaulted him to No. 7 in the world. He carded a
69 on the second day to vault into a first-place tie
with four others, and held together as he and Justin
Rose tied for the lead at six-under through the
championship round and went into a playoff.
birdie putt of nearly 10 feet dropped on the first
playoff hole to give him the victory.
“Having all those chances and for it to be there, to be
at Augusta where he’s had his struggles before, I don’t
think you could have written it any better,” Rory
McIlroy noted of Garcia’s win.
“Having all those chances
and for it to be there, to be the Augusta where he's had
his struggles before, I don't think you could have
written it any better,” Rory McIlroy noted of Garcia’s
Masters victory in April.
John Ehlke/Daily News
18 previous trips to Augusta, Garcia hadn’t finished
higher than fourth, missed the cut five times and was
tied for 34th in 2016.
was great to be able to watch. It was awesome,” McIlroy
added. “I’m so happy for him. And he’s in a great place
right now in his life. When he is, he seems to be
playing very well. I look for him to do well again this
Garcia became the first Spaniard to win the Masters
since José María Olazábal in 1999. Garcia also won on
the late Seve Ballesteros’ birthday, a fact that was not
lost on him or another Spanish golfer, Jon Rahm.
close friend of mine winning a tournament motivates me.
A Spaniard winning a major is always going to motivate
me,” said Rahm, who has vaulted into the worldview
recently by placing in the top five in six consecutive
professional golf tournaments.
“With all the places, and all the possible days (Garcia)
could have won, being Seve’s birthday at Augusta, I
don’t think you would ever get much more special than
that for him, especially being a course where he
struggled mentally in the past.”
became the sixth consecutive first-time major winner,
and noted “My goal, obviously, is to make it stop this
week and hopefully get a second one.”
he also comes into Thursday’s first round having tied
for 30th, 20th and 12th, respectively, in the
tournaments between the Masters and Open Championship.
During Tuesday’s news conference, Garcia mentioned
patience and commitment multiple times as key to his
Masters win and mindset each round.
“When it comes down to commitment it’s just a matter of
believing,” Garcia said. “I think that at the Masters I
did that very, very well with all aspects of my game.
The last three weeks — Players, Byron Nelson and
Colonial — I struggled a little bit with that. My
commitment wasn’t as sharp as it was at the Masters. I
don’t know if it was because everything that’s been
going on after the win there and stuff.
we have to kind of collect ourselves again and make sure
that when we get there on the first tee on Thursday that
we’re fully committed, no matter what happens, and have
as much patience as possible.”