Garcia set to grease skids to retain title

AUGUSTA • Sergio Garcia took 74 Major starts and more than 20 years to win his first Major but barely a day had passed before his Masters Green Jacket was stained by grease.

The 38-year-old recalled on Tuesday the tough job the dry cleaner had to do to get rid of the offending marks but a year on, it promises to be nothing compared to the challenge of trying to retain his Masters title.

Only Tiger Woods (2001-02), Jack Nicklaus (1965-66) and Nick Faldo (1989-90) have won in consecutive years.

"It's just difficult to win. It doesn't matter if it's back-to-back or just one," Garcia said, ahead of the first men's Major of the year, which starts today.

"It's just not easy to do it one time, so imagine twice. And back-to-back. It doesn't mean that I'm not going to give it my best shot and I'm going to try as hard as I can, but it's not easy to do it."

Even so, he likes the state of his game against a world-class field.

"Preparation has been good. My game is quite solid," he added.

"It's just a matter of how I'm going to feel on Thursday, and how the nerves are going to be, because I know I'm going to be a little bit nervous."

The Spaniard won a play-off over Britain's Justin Rose after an epic back-nine battle last April, taking an emotional victory on what would have been the 60th birthday of his late idol Seve Ballesteros.

With the media's focus falling mainly on Woods, Garcia remains quietly confident of his chances this year.

"I'll try to go through the things that I know help me and hopefully get off to a good start... and really enjoy the week," he said.

He will be paired with world No. 2 Justin Thomas and US Amateur champion Doc Redman in the opening round.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 05, 2018, with the headline 'Garcia set to grease skids to retain title'. Print Edition | Subscribe