Garcia eyes positive week in Portugal
September 19, 2018
Sergio Garcia will make his Portugal Masters debut this week at the Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course as he gears up for an event in which he has rather more experience.
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“Since the last time I played here in 2005 there have been a lot of changes. The fairways look much narrower than they were then, the rough is much thicker, so you have to drive the ball well here. If you do that then it's a course that's going to give you some chances of scoring, but you have to be very precise off the tee, so that's going to be important."
“Obviously getting a win here would be amazing. You can't beat confidence. That would be nice but more than anything I just want to get some rhythm, get some competition juices flowing, that's one of the main reasons that I wanted to come here. It's a nice tournament and I want to do the best I can, but obviously I'm thinking a little bit about next week. You can't help it."
The Spaniard is preparing to make his ninth appearance in The Ryder Cup after being selected as one of Thomas Bjørn's four Captain's Picks, but first of all the 2017 Masters Tournament champion is looking forward to a week of competitive action in the golfing mecca of Vilamoura.
“I'm excited about it. Everyone knows how much I love The Ryder Cup, and that hasn't changed, so I'm really excited about it. I'm very thankful to Thomas and the vice captains for picking me and I'm just going to try to help the team as much as possible.”
The 12-time European Tour winner's most recent experience on this course came back in 2005 when he represented Spain alongside Miguel Ángel Jiménez in the WGC-World Cup, and he's expecting an entirely different challenge this time around.
He is joined in the field by Ryder Cup team mate Thorbjørn Olesen who is also looking forward to getting back into competitive action after a few weeks of rest.
The Dane sealed his maiden appearance in the biennial contest after putting together an impressive run of form that has included six top 20 finishes since capturing his fifth European Tour title at the Italian Open in June.
“I've played well this year and had a lot of good results, I have the confidence. There are a lot of big names here so I wouldn't say I'm the favourite but I would put myself in the mix for sure."
“I actually came here earlier this year to train for five days with my coach and caddie. It's a place I've always enjoyed coming to - nice weather, good food and I feel like I know the course really well. Last year I felt very comfortable with my game when I came here. I felt like I was hitting the ball well. Obviously I didn't get the result that I wanted but I feel like I know the course really well and feel comfortable around here so hopefully I can get going tomorrow, shoot a nice score, and slowly build up to Sunday."
“It's obviously difficult not to think about next week, being my first Ryder Cup. It's exciting and I'm looking forward to that very, very much, so in the back of my mind it's definitely there but I also want to try to perform this week, get some tournament golf after a few weeks off."
He's looking forward to a week in a place that he enjoys so much, he visited for a training camp earlier in the year.
The field for the 12th Portugal Masters includes a further four Major winners in Argentinian Angel Cabrera, Ireland's Padraig Harrington, South African Charl Schwartzel and Danny Willett of England. Meanwhile it will be a family affair for home favourite Ricardo Gouveia, who will be joined by his dad Tomas on caddie duties.
“I have great memories of the fifth place last year, especially the back nine on Sunday," said Gouveia. "Looking at this situation last year, the way that day went, I can use those good memories to get back to where I need to be."
“There has been a lot of inconsistency in my game. Technically, it was a matter of alignment that was wrong, but that I had not realised it. That small change has made a big difference in terms of training. I hope to take the same technique from practice into competition."
“My father will be my caddie here and until the end of the year. It was a decision I made when I stopped working with Nick Mumford. I wanted a person who knew me well and had already had good experiences and there is no better person than my father, so I feel pretty good with him. And being here in Portugal, the support of the Portuguese public will give me a great boost.”