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14 April 2024

Golf: In-form Garcia seeks win in Dubai


Sergio Garcia will be looking to cash in on a rich vein of form and break into the top-10 of the world rankings this week at the Dubai Desert Classic.

The world No.14 Spaniard is one of the top attractions in the $2.5 million (1.8 million euros) tournament, which forms the last leg of the three-event Desert Swing of the European Tour.

Garcia narrowly missed out on winning the Qatar Masters in Doha last week when England's Chris Wood jumped ahead of him and South Africa's George Coetzee with an eagle on the last hole to win by one shot.

That was his first start of 2013 after finishing the previous year on a strong note with a win at the Iskandar Johor Open and a fourth place at the Thai Golf Championship.

In his five previous attempts at the Majlis course, Garcia's best finish is a tied 11th, a fact that is surprising given his great ball-striking ability and how the golf course, with its numerous dogleg holes, forces players to hit all kinds of shots.

Asked if he was surprised that he had not done well on the golf course so far, Garcia replied: "Maybe a little bit. I guess that maybe I haven't been on top form coming into this tournament.

"Obviously, two years ago, I was en route to doing that, and got a terrible break on 17 on Saturday (after opening with two rounds of 67), and that kind of backtracked me a little bit. No, I think it should be fine. Hopefully, we'll change that this week."

Garcia, who had a corrective eye surgery done after the Ryder Cup last year, said he was excited about the season after the start he has had.

"I feel pretty good about my game. Do I feel like it's the best I've played in my career?  Probably not. But I feel fairly good for the most part," said the 33-year-old.

"It would be great if I break into the top-10, but it's not something that bothers me at all. It has not bothered me for a while. I've always said it; if I play well, those things will come.

"I'm excited because I know how I'm feeling. I know how my attitude is on the course. I know how my will is to try to do things to get better. So that's very exciting for me.

"And we had a good start of the season, which is always nice. So I just want to make sure that everything stays the same. I'm going to have bad weeks, but if I can manage to stay with the right attitude, even on the bad weeks, it's going to make the year go so easy and so much better."

England's Lee Westwood is the highest ranked player in the tournament at No.8, and having relocated to Florida during the winter break, he is hoping to reap rich rewards of the hard work he has put in the last few weeks.

"I played a lot more this winter than I would normally play," said the former world No.1, who has played every year in the tournament since joining the Tour barring 2002 and has finished runner-up three times.

"There's no rust. The main reason for moving to Florida was to get more games of golf because I wouldn't play normally when I'm at home because of the weather.

"Last week I had my shorts on and was out playing with Luke Donald. Living in England I've always finished the year, gone home, packed the clubs away and came back out trying to catch everyone else. My short game is sharper from being out there, especially my putting."

Spain's Rafael Cabrera-Bello is the defending champion, while the tournament also features Wood and Jamie Donaldson, winners of the previous two week's tournaments in Doha and Abu Dhabi.