Sergio Garcia is confident a year of consistency is set to catapult him back into the winner’s spotlight against the top guns at January’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.
The 33-year-old will return to Abu Dhabi Golf Club’s National Course, from January 16 – 19, in a buoyant mood after an impressive season during which he’s secured eight top-20 finishes on the 2013 European Tour and finished runner-up last week in Sun City. And, despite an unexpected title drought this year, the World Number 20 says his game has never been in better shape.
“I’ve not won a tournament so far this year but in many respects it has been a great season for me,” said the man nick-named ‘El Nino’ for his youthful entry to the professional game. “The hard work is paying off and my game has improved on so many levels. I feel a big win is just around the corner.
“There is no reason why it can’t be in Abu Dhabi. I love starting my season there because I always feel comfortable. The weather, crowds and players make it an extra special event. My form is building nicely, and I would love nothing more than to win against Abu Dhabi’s challenging line-up.”
Garcia’s return to the Emirate adds extra weight to the Championship’s ‘Expect the Unexpected’ promise. He’s a player who produces special moments from anywhere on the course – something he showed during his opening round in Abu Dhabi last year.
The three-time Major runner-up pulled out an ace on the 12th hole of The National, using a seven-iron to drop the ball on the green before it gently rolled into the cup. Garcia's hole-in-one was crowned the European Tour's Shot of the Month and was the first of his Tour career.
“I really enjoyed that moment,” said Garcia. “It was my first ever Tour ace so it was pretty special. I’m hoping I can produce more shots like that in January!”
Swinging his first club at the age of three, Garcia later set the tone for his career by creating worldwide headlines with his most famous shot during the 1999 PGA Championship coming just after turning professional – it’s still talked about today.
With the green on the 16th at Chicago’s Medinah Country Club hidden from view, he swung hard from behind a tree, hitting a low curving fade that ran onto the green. Shortly after, he became the youngest player ever to compete in the Ryder Cup.
Garcia will join a stellar Abu Dhabi Championship line-up which includes: world number four and five-time Major winner Phil Mickelson, world number five and US Open title-holder Justin Rose, world number six Rory McIlroy, former world number one Luke Donald, Abu Dhabi’s record-breaking ambassador Matteo Manassero, and reigning Champion, Welshman Jamie Donaldson. Three-time Abu Dhabi champion Martin Kaymer also returns for his fourth shot at the title.
The Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship 2014 is organized by Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority and runs at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. Tickets and packages are available via the event’s official website - www.abudhabigolfchampionship.com - and Ticketmaster (www.ticketmaster.ae), and AED50 for a daily pass and AED150 for a four-day pass. Guests staying at any Abu Dhabi hotel over the Championship period enter free.