After completing his opening round of one under par 71 at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, Ignacio Garrido became a member of an exclusive group of professionals to have played 500 European Tour events.
The Spaniard, whose career highlights include a victorious Ryder Cup appearance in his homeland in 1997 and a victory in the Tour’s flagship event at the 2003 PGA Championship, became just the 23rd player in history to reach the milestone of 500 (or more) appearances on The European Tour.
To mark the occasion, Garrido was presented with a silver ice bucket, produced by Thomas Lyte, by the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters Tournament Director, David Probyn.
“I have to be honest and confess that I didn't know about my 500th appearance until I got here, but it’s nice to know that I've been around so long – let's hope it's not the last 500 and there are many more,” smiled Garrido.
“I guess it's not easy to reach that many tournaments and it's nice to get there. But the main thing is not only to play the tournaments, but to stay competitive and keep having a chance to win some of them at some point.
“I still have ambition and believe that there is something out there for me that I still haven't achieved and that's what we still work hard for.”
Born into a prodigious golfing family – his father, Antonio, and uncle, German, were both European Tour winners – Ignacio, or ‘Nacho’ to his friends, made his first appearance on Tour as an amateur at the 1990 Spanish Open. He won the prestigious English Amateur Strokeplay title in 1992 before joining the paid ranks and making his first Tour start as a professional in the 1993 Turespaña Iberia-Open de Canarias.
He graduated from the Challenge Tour in 1993 and won his first title at the 1997 German Open to join his father and uncle as a European Tour winner.
That same year, Garrido made his one and only Ryder Cup appearance, an experience that would prove to be the highlight of his career as he played his part in helping Seve Ballesteros’s European Team to victory over the USA in Spain – the first Ryder Cup staged in Continental Europe, at the magnificent Club de Golf Valderrama.
Garrido claimed one and a half points from his four matches at Valderrama, including halving his first three games to become the first rookie in Ryder Cup history to halve three matches.
His greatest individual success came at the home of The European Tour, over Wentworth Club’s famous West Course as he won the 2003 PGA Championship.
“To be part of that Ryder Cup Team in Spain was probably the highlight of my career,” he said. “It’s not only the victories, though. There are a lot of moments that you wouldn't change for anything else. I'm lucky to have been living through those moments in my career.”
Having been a part of The European Tour for 20 years, Garrido has been an inside witness to the most dramatic period of evolution in its history and has seen the Tour grow into a thriving global brand.
“I remember when the Tour went to Dubai for first time and it was like, my goodness, are we going that far to play on The European Tour?” he reflected.
“Now, Dubai seems like next door. We had probably two or three tournaments outside Europe when I started and now we've got tournaments all over the world. It has changed a lot, and the standard of the game has changed a lot.
“When I started probably you could tell that out of the 150 guys that were starting maybe only 50 had a real chance to win. Now everyone can do it. Now anyone can miss a cut. Just look at what happened last week with guys ranked Number One and Two in the world missing the cut comfortably, which is something that probably only happens in this game and that happens because it's so competitive nowadays. It is nice to still be a part of it and to be able to compete.”
Garrido becomes the fourth Spanish player to reach 500 official European Tour appearances. He follows: Miguel Angel Jiménez (598), Santiago Luna (594) and Miguel Angel Martin (545). Aged 40 years and 302 days, he is the youngest Spanish player to reach the 500 mark and the 23rd player in all to reach 500 official European Tour appearances.