Dubai: Spain’s Sergio Garcia approaches Thursday’s Omega Dubai Desert Classic with confidence having missed out on a playoff by a stroke at last week’s Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.
Both Garcia and South Africa’s George Coetzee birdied the 18th hole to share the lead at 17 under par, but England’s Chris Wood went one better to snatch his first European Tour win with a 12 foot eagle at the end.
Garcia, 33, is himself no stranger to wins with 24 titles since turning professional in 1999, two of which came last year in the US PGA Tour’s Wyndnam Championship and the Asian Tour’s Iskandor Johar Open. With nine top 10 finishes from 28 appearances in Europe, the US and Asia, last season, he now feels consistency is back after his 2010 slump, and he hopes to continue this momentum into the new campaign to chase the majors that have so far eluded him.
“Qatar was a good start to the season,” said Garcia, who carded 69, 66, 70, 66 in Doha. “I felt I did everything I had to do to get into the playoff, but in the end I was beaten by a better player. It’s not as though we bogeyed the last and he parred. We birdied and he eagled, which wasn’t easy to do,” he told Gulf News.
“I think I played nicely through most of Sunday, maybe in the first third of the last round I didn’t feel great about my shots, but I recovered well and overall it was a solid week,”
Garcia’s game has been on the up after hitting a previous course record 64 at last season’s DP World Tour Championship following laser eye surgery and a change in clubs. “Last week makes for a nice start to the season what with new irons from Taylor Made, the Rocket Blades,” said Garcia. “I started with them in Dubai at the tail end of last year.
“I used them through the last three events to see how they performed under tournament conditions and I felt I was getting what I wanted out of them. It’s been a very easy transition and I’m very excited.”
Of his contention for Dubai, with eyesight and clubs now settled, Garcia added: “I try to keep improving all aspects of my game to win as many tournaments as I can.
“I don’t set any targets for myself I just try to perform as best I can and stay in the same attitude as the last 8-9 months.”
Garcia said: “I’m capable [of a win in Dubai] if my game is on. I’m not as big a hitter as Alvaro Quiros [2011 winner]. But I’ve done fairly well on this course in the past and it all depends on how I feel coming into the competition. If I can get going, and continue the way I’ve been playing hopefully I’ll have a chance.”
If successful, Garcia would be the fourth consecutive Spaniard to win the classic after Miguel Angel Jimenez, Alvaro Quiros and Rafael Cabrero-Bello. He said: “It would be amazing to follow Miguel, Alvaro and Rafa. We’ll see come Sunday if I can have another good week. But it’s a solid field and it wont be easy, so we’ll have to give it our best shot.”