It’s the closest any golfer can get to donning Superman’s red cape, but reigning Masters champion Sergio Garcia admits he didn’t truly grasp the enormous power of the Green Jacket. It only dawned upon him during a worldwide tour with golf’s most famous piece of fabric in his luggage.
Garcia donned the revered blazer at the Greg Norman Medal dinner last night as part of the Australian PGA Championship’s festivities at RACV Royal Pines Resort on the Gold Coast, marking the end of his finest year that included three European Tour wins and marrying Angela Akins.
Permitted by his bride to wear the green jacket for the wedding – “Green always goes with white” – Garcia has been feted across the globe over the past seven months, including some emotional trips home to Spain where he kicked off the La Liga El Clasico clash between Barcelona and Real Madrid and hosted the Andalucia Valderrama Masters.
“It’s been a little bit overwhelming I would say. It also shows you the respect that you need to give to that green jacket,” said Garcia upon his return to Australian for the first time since the 2010 Australian Masters where he was T-28.
“I thought I knew how big the Masters was and the green jacket and how much it meant. But then once you win it and start travelling with it and see the reaction from not only the people but the players and everything, you realise how massive it is and how much of an icon the green jacket is.”
While he refused to divulge his menu for the Champions Dinner at Augusta National next April – “I know ‘Scotty’ (Adam Scott) is looking forward to it because we talked about it” – he did say the reverence he has for the green jacket has grown whilst in his possession.
“Once you become a Masters champion, there’s a lot of things that you have to be careful. You have to take care of it and you just can’t do freely, you have to know that a lot of eyes are on you even more than before and you want to show what’s best not only for yourself but for the game.
“If I don’t say this probably my wife would kill me, obviously one of the very important moments where I wore the green jacket was at my wedding. But yeah, you have to be respectful for it and you can’t just wear it to go for dinner anytime you want.
“I like to use it when it’s really important and when it’s worth it, and when it’s not. I like to give it a rest and make sure that it’s fine.”
Garcia and his wife Angela flew into Australia late on Monday after playing in the UBS Hong Kong Open last weekend, one third of the way through something of a ‘babymoon’ that will include a short holiday in New Zealand next week.
The pair is expecting a little girl due in March, but the 37-year-old is adamant impending fatherhood or the pressure of following up his Masters triumph won’t deter him from seeking even loftier goals in future.
“Fortunately or unfortunately for me, that expectation and that kind of outside pressure has always been there,” said Garcia, who has won 32 professional tournaments in his career to date.
“So the way I look at it is, I’m extremely honoured to call myself the Masters champion and to try to help the game of golf, not only in Spain but all over the world.
“I think at the end of the day what matters is what I expect from myself. If someone comes to me and says, ‘Next year you should win six times and one or two Majors’, I know what I want to do and know where my expectations are and what I need to improve on.
“I’m still fairly young, so I can still achieve many, many things.”