Before Sunday, Sergio Garcia, despite his immense talent, was perhaps known more for his failures – or, at the very least, for his close-but-no-cigar performances – than he was for his successes.
Steve Elkington summed up Garcia’s pre-Masters career as follows:
“Well, he’s one of the greatest players that we’ve ever seen out on the Tour,” Elkington said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “He basically hits the ball so solid every time, and he’s one of the greatest strikers of the ball. Basically, you don’t have to worry about Sergio.”
Garcia, however, battled mental demons for many years, almost winning several majors before ultimately coming up just short. Heck, he had finished runner up in four majors (twice in the Open Championship, twice in the PGA Championship).
“To a certain degree, I would say he had a tendency to do it to himself,” Elkington said of Garcia’s demons. “You didn’t have to add anything to him.”
But now that Garcia has won the Masters, now that he became the first Masters champion to play all four rounds under par since Tiger Woods in 1997, the 37-year-old Spaniard has written a new chapter in his illustrious career, which includes more top-10 finishes at majors than any player on Tour.
“I think Sergio’s fiancee has helped him a lot,” Elkington said, referring to Golf Channel reporter Angela Akins. “I think it’s given him a lot more perspective. He’s calmed down. I think he realizes now that this life is not just all about him and the mirror.”
Elkington said “there’s no doubt” that Sunday’s win will change how Garcia – and others – view his career, adding that the Hall of Fame is now a distinct possibility. Elkington, 54, drew on his own experience of winning the 1995 PGA Championship.
“I always felt like for me personally that I could always hit the ball really well,” he said, “but because it is an individual sport, you are certainly playing against yourself. When you see the great players like Nicklaus and Tiger, they were able to go the other way under the most pressure. To be honest, there was a few of the players I was a little surprised about yesterday.”
That includes Rickie Fowler. The uber-talented 28-year-old has finished in the top five at every major but is still searching for his first major championship.
“I had Fowler picked at minus-10 to win the tournament,” Elkington said. “He looked the best to me in practice. Rickie looked really good all week, to me. But it became a two-man show (between Garcia and Justin Rose) through six holes yesterday.”