Golf: Garcia committed to European Tour

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The Independent Online
SERGIO GARCIA, who competes in the Deutsche Bank-SAP Open TPC of Europe event here at the St Leon-Rot club near Heidelberg, Germany today, has pledged his immediate future to the European Tour despite his extraordinary debut in the United States.

The 19-year-old won pounds 90,000 by finishing joint third in the Byron Nelson Classic last week in his first professional appearance on the American Tour, ahead of the likes of Tiger Woods and Fred Couples. He was also the top amateur at the Masters this year before joining the paid ranks to bring an end to a phenomenal amateur career containing more than 70 victories, including the British Amateur title.

The Spanish teenager has already won over the American public with his performances and personality but he has decided to concentrate on playing in Europe when he gains his tour card.

"The United States is a great country to play in, but I want to focus in Europe," Garcia said before the pounds 1.2m event near Heidelberg, his second professional tournament in Europe. "This year, I want to get both my US and European Tour cards and if I do that, then I will play in Europe next year.

"Europe is a great tour to get some experience, and that's what I need. You also have the Ryder Cup and you have to play in Europe to earn the points to make the team. If I got the US card, I would have to play at least 12 tournaments plus the three US majors, and that's almost half a year."

A Ryder Cup berth this year is not out of the question for the prodigiously talented teenager with Woods and the Open champion, Mark O'Meara, predicting a bright future for the player nicknamed "El Nino".

But a realistic Garcia added: "That's something very difficult. I will probably play nine events before the Ryder Cup, while the other guys have been playing for almost a year. I'll have to do some very good things to get in but I will do my best. Do I think I'm good enough? That's a question to ask Mark James. He's the only one who knows."

Another player with ambitions to make the European side to defend the Ryder Cup in Boston in September is Jesper Parnevik, who this week is celebrating the birth of his third daughter.

Pebble Peach Philippa Parnevik keeps up the Swedish tradition of family members all having names with the same initial. Her sisters, Peg and Penny, can count themselves lucky.