Ignacio Garrido, who with a delicate chip won a play-off for the Volvo PGA Championship on Sunday, has always been a sturdy character. As an amateur 11 years ago he won the Brabazon Trophy at the magnificent Hollinwell by a street while on leave from national service.
Garrido, known often by the Spanish diminutive of 'Nacho', played his part in the Ryder Cup victory at Valderrama in 1997 despite only one victory to his name at the time. Prior to the match he spoke out against the treatment of Miguel Angel Martin by Seve Ballesteros, despite his rookie status and the captain being his childhood hero.
He practises taekwondo, which keeps him fit and mentally sharp, and used to collect, and mount, insects, but rarely has time now. He also wears long-sleeve shirts, whatever the temperature. "I've heard all the stories that I have skin cancer or that my arms were full of tattoos," he said.
The truth is predictably less fanciful. His father Antonio, one of the first European Ryder Cup players alongside Ballesteros, had a clothing contract but would always discard the long-sleeve shirts, which his son would wear instead. Since then whenever he has practised in a short-sleeve shirt it has never felt comfortable.
For the last three years Garrido has been going out with Sam Head, also a professional golfer. Head was happy to be woken with the news of his win in the middle of the night in Japan, where she has been playing on their women's tour. Until Garrido claimed the £414,555 first prize at Wentworth, he admitted Head had earned more money this season.
As well as revamping his swing with a fellow Spanish professional, Domingo Hospital, Garrido said he had been helped a lot by Head. "Sam has been telling me from the beginning of the year that my golf is there, I just needed a better mind," he said.
"She gave me a little book two weeks ago, and she said: 'Look, this is all you need. Just practise less and read more and take what the book wants to tell you'. I've done it and basically, the book is saying: 'Well, look, enjoy yourself. Enjoy life. Enjoy life because you can enjoy the good and the bad, and things will come'. It happened exactly that way. If I had finished second, I wouldn't be as happy, but I would be very, very happy as well, because it was a big step in my career. "The book is called The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. It's by Deepak Chopra. To be honest, I haven't finished it yet. It has seven [laws] and I only got to the fourth but they are really good."
In a week when Annika Sorenstam appeared in a men's tournament, the PGA was won by a player who has caddied on the women's circuit. "I was one of those who thought Annika had no chance," Garrido said. "I have played with my girlfriend and she couldn't compete with me from the same tees. I hadn't seen Annika play so I was so surprised at how she did but also very proud. She was incredible."
The victory lifted Garrido from 228th in the world to 62nd. Trevor Immelman, who so nearly eagled the last to beat the Spaniard, returned to the world's top 50 where he was briefly earlier in the season. The South African, at 23, is in the same mould as Adam Scott and the young Britons, Justin Rose and Paul Casey.
Immelman, like his compatriot Ernie Els, and Padraig Harrington, who did not play at Wentworth, will compete at the Memorial event in the States this week before, like Rose and Casey, playing in the US Open for the first time next month. Harrington withdrew from the PGA because only once had he been better than 45th. Garrido, it should be pointed out, had only once finished better than 50th.Reuse content