Sergio García didn’t need to close his eyes to see the beauty in his dramatic victory Sunday in the Sanderson Farms Championship.
While García putted with his eyes closed – something he said he’s been doing since his 2017 Masters victory with almost no one noticing – he ended his three-year-plus winless spell on the PGA Tour with two brilliant swings.
The first was a 260-yard 5-wood second shot on the par-5 14th that set up a 3-foot eagle putt, jumping him back into a tie with Peter Malnati for the lead.
The second, and the one that forever will be part of the García highlight reel, was a 172-yard 8-iron shot to within 30 inches of the hole for a closing birdie that earned the 40-year-old his 11th PGA Tour victory. He started walking long before it landed.
Just a week after García fell out of the top 50 in the world rankings for the first time in 11 years, he won as if to remind everyone that he’s still Sergio García.
It is the 10th consecutive year García has won at least once on one of the world’s big tours. He has 36 career victories, with nearly half of them (16) on the European Tour.
It’s not as if García had gone missing since he beat Justin Rose in a playoff three years ago at Augusta National, but his profile, particularly on the PGA Tour, had begun to fade.
He had one top-10 finish in 12 starts last season, failing to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs, and he missed the cut in both events he’s played in the new wraparound season. García won the European Tour’s KLM Open last year, but it was a year ago that had begun to feel longer.
“Without a doubt it does feel like it a little bit longer but I don’t take any wins for granted,” García said. “It doesn’t matter which tour … to me winning nowadays anywhere in the world is tough. There are so many good young players in the game.”
At 40, Garcia is now married and the father of two children. He’s in a different place in his life and his career but his performance at the Sanderson Farms Championship was a reminder of how good he can be.
Always one of the game’s best ball strikers, García has chased consistent putting throughout his career. Putting with his eyes closed, which allows him to free up his stroke, isn’t new to him but it became the story in Mississippi.
“Sometimes when it starts feeling really good, I think I can do it with my eyes open,” García said. “I can do it the normal way. (But) eyes closed is probably normal for me now.
“I got too caught up in trying to make it too perfect instead of just letting myself do it. You don’t have to hit a perfect putt every time to make it.”
Ron Green Jr.