St Andrews, Scotland: Sergio Garcia’s illustrious career has been highlighted by six victories on the Asian Tour but this week his relationship with the Tour takes a new turn when he competes in the circuit’s first-ever event on Scottish soil, at the St Andrew Bay Championship at Fairmont St Andrews – the sixth stop of the season on the flourishing International Series.
After two decades of making trips to compete in Asia, the 2017 Masters champion is excited about this week’s unique opportunity, which also gives him the chance of winning his first title in Scotland, as a professional.
Said Garcia: “It would be nice to win [in Scotland] obviously I have been close a few times. If you count the Ryder Cup, yes, I have won here. It is something I would like to have the possibility of changing. We’ll give it our best shot.”
Garcia, 43, claimed the Amateur Championship in 1998 at Muirfield, and was part of the Spanish team, along with Miguel Ángel Jiménez and José María Olazábal, to win the Alfred Dunhill Cup the following year on the Old Course here at St Andrews, but the closest he has come to triumphing since was in The Open at Carnoustie in 2007 – when Ireland’s Padraig Harrington denied him victory after a four-hole play-off.
“It is very exciting. Winning is one of the reason why we are here,” he said.
“I have always enjoyed playing in Scotland. I love the crowds here and it’s good to see. I didn’t have to come and play this week, but I wanted to, it really drove me to come here.”
At Wednesday’s press conference, England’s Paul Casey said it hadn’t occurred to him how unusual it is for the Asian Tour to be in Scotland as major Tour’s today hold events all over the world, and Garcia felt the same.
He said: “It is something you don’t really think about. We play in so many different places and so many different Tours and I think at the end of the day the game is a global game, so I think that is the way I look at it. The Asian Tour is playing in a lot of spots now. I see it as a positive and something nice and it just shows how global our game is.
“And I am sure there are other places they want to go, and they have to find what fits best for everyone. Best it’s good to see and you never know maybe they will add one or two more here.”
The Spaniard claimed his first title in Asia in 2002 at the Korean Open, and he has been a regular visitor since.
And his success in Asia also extends to the LIV Golf League: he captained the Fireball GC team to success in Bangkok last year, and narrowly missed securing his first individual title after being beaten by American Talor Gooch in a play-off Singapore in April.
His adaptability to play and win anywhere is borne out by the fact that his Asian Tour wins have come in China, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
It is surprising that Scotland has yet to deliver him silverware but a win here this week will be the 37th of his career and his first since the 2020 Sanderson Farms Championship, on the PGA Tour, plus his first on the Asian Tour since his memorable triumph at the Singapore Open in 2018, at Sentosa Golf Club – where the Asian Tour is headquartered.
Garcia tees off at 12.20pm tomorrow with American Harold Varner III and Anirban Lahiri from India.