SMBC Singapore Open 2018

Jacket makes one go green with envy

SERGIO GARCIA, reigning Masters champion, on why he wore the Green Jacket at his wedding (above) to Angela Akins last July.
SERGIO GARCIA, reigning Masters champion, on why he wore the Green Jacket at his wedding (above) to Angela Akins last July.PHOTO: INSTAGRAM/THESERGIOGARCIA

Garcia picks his moments to don coveted prize and is out to claim another win this week in S'pore

One of the most storied traditions in golf is the Green Jacket each Masters champion receives and gets to take wherever he pleases for a year after his triumph.

But a long list of etiquette rules from Augusta National limits ecstatic winners to, among other things, public appearances at formal or golf-oriented events.

So when reigning champion Sergio Garcia married Angela Akins last July, the 38-year-old Spaniard saw the wedding reception as the perfect opportunity to commemorate a very special year for him.

"The Green Jacket is obviously extremely special, mainly because it's so difficult to win it and, even after you win it, you don't get to wear it that much," Garcia told The Straits Times yesterday at the Sentosa Golf Club, where he is playing in the US$1 million (S$1.3 million) SMBC Singapore Open starting today.

"So to have the coincidence of winning the Masters and getting married in the same year - it was great to have that opportunity and it's been fun."

Garcia, who finished tied for 11th on five-under 279 at last year's Singapore Open, is hoping to begin this season with a strong performance at Sentosa's Serapong Course.

COAT AND TIE THE KNOT

It's so difficult to win it and, even after you win it, you don't get to wear it that much. So to have the coincidence of winning the Masters and getting married in the same year - it was great to have that opportunity and it's been fun.

SERGIO GARCIA, reigning Masters champion, on why he wore the Green Jacket at his wedding to Angela Akins last July.

"Winning is nice whatever the time of the year but, obviously the earlier you do it, the more confidence you get," the world No. 10 said. "I had a solid week last year and then I won in Dubai (the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in February) so that was a nice kick-starting point for the year."

He went on to win the Masters in April and also picked up another victory at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters last October.

He has not been shy about celebrating his maiden Major win after four runner-up finishes, sporting the jacket at last April's El Clasico between Real Madrid and Barcelona, and again at Wimbledon during a Rafael Nadal match in July.

Celebratory tours with the iconic garment have become par for the course in recent years, with 2016 winner Danny Willett also appearing in it at Wimbledon.

American Phil Mickelson broke from the norm when he wore it to a doughnut drive-through in 2010, and jokingly told the New York Times in 2015 that he would put the jacket in his golf bag and pull it out if it was chilly on the course.

Said the three-time Masters champion then: "I wouldn't carry three jackets around with me but I would say, I've got two more, if you're cold as well."

Asked if he had tried anything similar, Garcia laughed and said: "No, no, I mean I think people know I've worn it and I don't like to show off and wear it left and right. At the end of the day, you've got to respect how iconic the jacket is. It's not just a piece of clothing. It means so much more than that. You have to be very respectful of it and wear it when you should, not all the time."

He added that he is looking forward to returning to Augusta.

"I was talking to (two-time Masters champion Jose Maria) Olazabal and he told me that when you come back, it is a different feeling," he said. "There's a sense of pride, and you're even prouder than you were before (your win)."

SINGAPORE OPEN

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 18, 2018, with the headline 'Jacket makes one go green with envy'. Print Edition | Subscribe