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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 3 March 2021

Sergio Garcia a picture of calm as he prepares for the Omega Dubai Desert Classic

Spaniard loving the European camaraderie that is such a weapon for Europe in the Ryder Cup

Sergio Garcia of Spain in action during the pro-am event prior to the Omega Dubai Desert Classic at Emirates Golf Club in Dubai. Getty
Sergio Garcia of Spain in action during the pro-am event prior to the Omega Dubai Desert Classic at Emirates Golf Club in Dubai. Getty

As having somewhat of a reputation for being among the feistier golfers on the European Tour, Sergio Garcia seemed a rather obvious candidate for the circuit’s latest social-media hit.

“Angry Golfers” became another viral success upon its release last week, a comedy sketch that tackled how to keep emotions in check while competing at the elite end of one of the most mentally demanding sports around.

Tommy Fleetwood played the role of host in the group therapy session, and starred alongside Henrik Stenson, Ian Poulter, Eddie Pepperell, Matt Wallace and Tyrrell Hatton. Even Martin Kaymer, hamming up his “Mr Nice Guy” tag, got a cameo appearance.

Garcia, though, was nowhere to be seen. Most probably, because he wasn’t on location. The skit was shot in Abu Dhabi, at the tour’s season-opening event, and Garcia begins his 2021 European Tour campaign this week at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

Just a week too late, then.

“I'm actually surprised that I didn't make [the video],” Garcia joked on Wednesday. “I guess I've been quite calm for the last year, year and a half. So that probably helped me miss that spot.”

The topic was broached in relation to the European team’s famous camaraderie and how that serves as a real advantage in the Ryder Cup.

Collin Morikawa, speaking not long before Garcia at Emirates Golf Club, had referenced that kinship, too. The American, the world No 4, is this week making only his second regular-event appearance on the tour, and was suitably impressed at last month’s DP World Tour Championship by the closeness of his European counterparts.

“That chemistry is huge,” Garcia said. “It's probably one of our biggest, strongest weapons when it comes down to Ryder Cup. But the most important thing about it is it's a natural chemistry, because we don't really have to work hard for it. We enjoy each other's company.”

Garcia sits proudly as the Ryder Cup’s record scorer – he climbed to 25.5 points during the demolition of the United States in France in 2018 – and is patently eager to increase that tally. Europe’s defence, to take place at Whistling Straits in September, was postponed last year because of the pandemic.

“Obviously it's something I would love to be a part of, and not so much to add to my total, but to add to Europe. At the end of the day, you all know how much I love the Ryder Cup and I would love to be a part of a few more. That's obviously one of the biggest goals for the year."

A strong performance this week would certainly go some way to achieving that target. Garcia won the Desert Classic in 2017, a victory that provided the platform a few months later for his major breakthrough: he won the Masters to finally embroider an already glittering CV.

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - JANUARY 27: A portrait of Collin Morikawa of the United States ahead of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic at Emirates Golf Club on January 27, 2021 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)
Collin Morikawa in action ahead of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. Getty

However, Garcia sat out November's rearranged event having contracted Covid-19. Thankfully, the symptoms weren’t too bad, but it meant his run of 84 consecutive majors – the game’s longest active streak – came to an end.

“Yeah, it was a little frustrating, I'm not going to lie,” Garcia said. “Obviously I had a good run going on majors in a row and to miss the Masters the way we missed it, obviously was a little bit disappointing.

“But once I tested positive, I had to get my head around it because I knew that that's what was going to happen. And it didn't matter how frustrated I got or whatever, it wasn't going to change.

“It was unfortunate, but it happens. We know that by coming out here and playing tournaments, we put ourselves at risk. Anyone can get it any time.”

On that, Morikawa praised the tour’s safety protocols, which helped ease any anxieties he had about taking the trip over from the States.

“I'm excited to be back,” said last year’s PGA Championship winner. “It's obviously a long trip over here from the West Coast, 12-hour time difference. But for me it's exciting, come out here and compete with some guys that I know and some guys that I've obviously seen a lot.

“This week is going to be a great test. The course is in great shape for the most part - greens are a little iffy – but you have to hit some really good tee shots and you have to keep it in the fairway.

“Done some pretty good prep. I look forward to having a solid week here.”

It helps that he’s now familiarised himself with the stunning surroundings at Emirates Golf Club – and that memorable Dubai Marina backdrop.

“The 8th hole is a beautiful tee shot,” Morikawa said. “I need to stop getting too lost in the background and actually hit a good tee shot. I haven't hit one yet. Hopefully that starts tomorrow."

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Published: January 27, 2021 04:58 PM

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