KING ABDULLAH ECONOMIC CITY, SAUDI ARABIA | Sergio García, Shane Lowry and Brooks Koepka were enjoying some happy banter during the first couple of rounds of the Saudi International, and how much better it came across than the heads-down, stay-in-your-own-bubble approach of some of the others.
In García’s case, that on-course cheer confirmed how he is in a very different place than he was a year ago when he took a few swipes at the Saudi greens. (Not that Saudi Golf supremos were overly upset; they felt that Dustin Johnson’s 2019 victory and García’s flashes of anger made for “vibrations” which spread all around the world.)
García (above), who finished T6 in his Saudi return, has never talked too much about what went so very wrong but, towards the end of last week, he revisited that on-course craziness. “I was in shock,” he explained.
It was down to how his much-loved parents, Victor and Consuelo, had suddenly found themselves at odds. “Now,” said Sergio, “everything’s great again.” He himself did not play a role in the reconciliation process “other than in being as supportive to each of them as they have always been to me,” he added.
The Continental golfers all tend to have rather more in the way of emotional ups and downs than most, with France’s Victor Dubuisson (pictured) a case in point. During his recent missed cut in Dubai and another poor showing in Abu Dhabi there were times when he was said to have looked as if he didn’t give the proverbial damn. However, as his caddie said on Saturday, “Whatever it may have looked like on the outside, Victor was trying his heart out.”
Dubuisson’s coach went with him to Abu Dhabi and confirmed that there was nothing wrong with his swing. Then, having delivered that piece of news, he recommended a return to a previous set of clubs with different lofts and lies. The soaring left-to-right tee shots which had been giving the Frenchman such grief sailed into the sunset and, little by little, he rediscovered his old right-to-left flight.
He and Graeme McDowell, who were in the last pair on Sunday, shared a high-five when they met on Saturday night. They had not played together since the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in 2014, the match in which captain Paul McGinley identified McDowell as the right man to lend support to Dubuisson both before and during the week. No captain ever made a better decision.
The two won both of their foursomes. Then, McDowell beat Jordan Spieth in the singles before running back down the course to shepherd his French friend back to base with a half point versus Zach Johnson.
“The Ryder Cup was very stressful for me,” said Dubuisson, “but Graeme got that stress out of my head.”
Dubuisson didn’t fare so well on Sunday in Saudi Arabia, finishing in a tie for sixth place with García and three others after a closing 74.