Sergio Garcia is raring to go after a winter break as he gets his 2022 DP World Tour season under way at the Slync.io Dubai Desert Classic at Emirates Golf Club from Thursday.
The Spaniard, who won this tournament in 2017, is looking for a return to form and is hunting his first victory since 2020 — with the EGC looking a little different this year as it becomes an $8 million Rolex Series event.
Renovation over the summer has restored all 18 greens on the EGC Majlis Course to their original size, with a 33 per cent increase in green size, and Garcia is relishing a new challenge on a happy hunting ground.
“I had a little practice on the back nine today,” the 2017 Masters champion told Gulf News in an exclusive chat. “I am still a little tired but a couple of good nights’ sleep will have me ready for Thursday. I haven’t played the front nine holes but I have seen enough of the course to appreciate the changes. There are larger greens, allowing for more pin position options and new slopes and contours.
“The DP World Tour was on an entirely new course for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship last week but here in Dubai there is still enough of the same look for us to know our way around — with a few changes.”
Garcia is now 42 and is regarded as a bit of a veteran on the tour these days, after making his debut way back in 1999. However, he still sees similarities in the emerging youngsters and his own beginning in the game.
“It is not obviously too different to when I turned pro, but the one thing I notice is that there are more of them,” he said. “When I started out there was a few of us turning pro, but now a lot of amateurs are getting more and more opportunities and invited to play on pro events. They are better prepared for the step up to the pro level when it comes and they are more cooked.”
The Dubai Desert Classic is Garcia’s first event of the year and he is well aware how important a good start can be for a campaign.
“Every year, to start nicely gives you confidence for the campaign,” he said. “It relaxes you and all the little things can add up. However, it is not the end of the world if you struggle as you still have a long season ahead.”
With two DP World Tour events in Ras Al Khaimah following Dubai, the UAE now has six tournaments a season on the tour, with the season ending competitions in Dubai, and Garcia is delighted to see more events in the region.
“It is always welcome to see the game get bigger out here,” Garcia said. “We always try to help out and the tour helps us so we are always working together to improve the game and enhance the tour.”