Sergio Garcia is the Goran Ivanisevic of golf. Just as there was good Goran and bad Goran competing for space in the same scrambled mind so there is a disturbing duality about the person of Garcia.
A year ago after posting a 75 on Saturday to kill his chances of winning the Masters he claimed the possibility of victory was forever beyond him at Augusta. He was, he said, condemned to play for second. Three years ago he contemplated quitting altogether having, he claimed, lost his passion for the game.
Ivanisevic thought himself similarly blighted by fate, particularly at Wimbledon on a grass surface notionally made for a service game unplayable on its day. Thirteen years after turning pro, Ivanisevic finally cracked the code on London’s foremost lawns, edging Pat Rafter in a sumptuous five-setter on People’s Monday, 2001.
Bad Goran was famously saved by rain during a semi-final he was losing to Tim Henman. The players were forced to return the following day, time enough to summon good Goran from goodness knows where. Maybe Garcia will benefit from the storms forecast to blow through Augusta last night.
He said the first ten holes of his round yesterday were his best at the Masters. His score of 66 gave him a share of the lead with Australia’s Marc Leishman, one clear of Dustin Johnson and four ahead of Tiger Woods.
This was supposed to be the tournament that re-ignited Woods’s pursuit of the major record of 18 held by jack Nicklaus. Woods requires four to share the distinction. What if, instead, it is the occasion of Garcia’s redemption, the week when he finally spins the thread of a golden talent into the green of a Masters jacket?
It’s about time. After coming close to winning the US Open at Medinah as a teenager, he is now 58 majors into his career. This is his 55 consecutive stab at a big one at a tournament he has never led before. “We go through frustrating moments in this game. In the past I have shot myself out of this tournament. If my best is good I will have a chance of winning. I’m looking forward to doing the same thing over the next three days.”
Over to you, Sergio, or should that be good Garcia.