After a season blighted by illness, Ignacio Garrido will tee it up in this week’s European Tour Qualifying School Final Stage looking to regain The European Tour card he had held for the past 20 years.
This week will be the Spaniard’s first trip to the six-round marathon, taking place at PGA Catalunya Resort in Spain’s north eastern town of Girona, where the top 25 and ties from a field of 156 will earn their places on The 2014 Race to Dubai.
It has been a trying year for Garrido who, alongside his father Antonio became the first father-son duo to win on The European Tour, was diagnosed with glandular fever back in March.
Since then he has been unable to play to his best, or even string two rounds together due to a lack of energy, But he believes his best golf is still within his grasp as he looks to make the perfect recovery on home soil this week.
“It is a very difficult illness to go through,” said Garrido, who won the 2003 PGA Championship at Wentworth Club. “The doctor advised me to take at least two months off but I didn’t do that as I didn’t think it was necessary and as a result I have been unable to play. I’ve been really struggling, just playing one round and then getting high temperatures, feeling weak all the time and not being able to practice.
“I’m better every time I rest, but the illness is probably still there.Six days in a row is probably not the easiest, but we’ll see.
“I’m looking forward to playing this week because I have never played in this event before, but I’m not expecting a lot as it is only a month ago in Portugal that I could only play one round because I had no energy to play.
“If I feel well, obviously I expect to do well, but it is going to depend on how I feel. If I start losing my energy throughout the round then it is very hard, as I’m sure anyone who has experienced this condition would say. It’s weird, sometimes you wake up with only a quarter of your energy in the tank so after six holes you don’t want to be there. You just want to be lying in bed, so it is difficult.”
Trying times then, for a man who has plied his trade for so long on European golf’s biggest stage, having first earned his playing rights after a successful Challenge Tour campaign in 1993.
Since then, the 42 year old Madrid man has been a consistent performer, picking up two wins and representing Europe in The Ryder Cup on home soil at Valderrama in 1997. That same year he also recorded his best finish on the Order of Merit, sixth, thanks to his maiden victory at the Volvo German Open and three runners-up finishes.
Garrido believes that experience will stand him in good stead no matter what happens this week, and thinks he still has the game, but has just not been healthy enough to show it.
“Of course everything that you experience helps,” said the Spaniard, who has made 522 career European Tour appearances. “The problem this year has been that I couldn’t show what I have because I wasn’t healthy enough. I wasn’t fit to play.
““It might be a month or two or six by the time I recover. It doesn’t matter, because when I recover I’ll be back to thinking about good golf again.”
Garrido will begin his week on the Tour Course alongside Joakim Bäckström and compatriot Agustin Domingo at 10.25 from the first tee on Sunday, before taking to the Stadium Course at 9.10 the following morning.
Alongside Domingo, he will form part of a seven-strong Spanish contingent this week, in a field that includes 39 European Tour winners with 63 titles between them.