There were golf fans around the world who rejoiced at seeing Sergio Garcia’s name atop the leaderboard when the Wyndham Championship ended due to rain last Monday. The personable Spaniard has been one of the world’s elite golfers for the better part of a decade, spending over 300 weeks in the Top 10 between 2000 and 2009 before seeing his game slump for a little over a year. However Garcia has been on the comeback trail toward the end of 2011 and now into 2012, a comeback which has seen him grow his business portfolio, re-establish his game and move him into contention for another spot on the European Ryder Cup team this fall.
With the Barclays at The Bethpage Black taking place this weekend, we caught up with Garcia to talk about his game, his business ventures and the looming presence of Olympic golf in 2016:
1. How important was this past weekend’s win to you at this stage of your career?
Every win is important because it shows that the work you are putting in is paying off, but this win is especially important to me to earn my way on to the European Ryder Cup team. I didn’t make the team two years ago, and that has served as fuel for me since.
2. What does participating in the Ryder Cup this fall mean to you as an athlete?
It’s one of my favorite events, and to bounce back and play my way on to the team this year is very rewarding. I think the Ryder Cup is one of the best events in sports and I will be very proud to represent Spain on the European team.
3. The London Olympics have just finished, and Rio 2016 will have golf on the agenda. have you given any thought to playing in 2016 and what it would mean to represent Spain?
Golf’s return to the Olympics will be tremendous for the sport, for future generations of golfers and also for the golfers who are fortunate enough to participate in 2016. I think it would be a great honor to be able to represent Spain and hopefully encourage young people watching, both in Spain and around the world, to pursue their dreams through golf.
4. Have you made any major changes in your game this year to get you back toward the top?
No, the game has always been there, but sometimes in this game it can leave you briefly. Whether it is a confidence issue, or just trying too hard, it can happen. It has happened to the best golfers in the world for many years, and taking a short break from the game a couple of years ago definitely proved beneficial for me. I’m happy to be back and playing well.
5. You have been one of the early adopters of the Mission Athletecare line of products, a lineup which now includes people like Dwyane Wade and Serena Williams. How valuable are those products to your game at this point?
From the beginning I’ve been a believer in Mission’s “Athlete-Engineered™” model. The idea of bringing athletes into the equity structure of the business, and equally if not more significant, bringing athletes into the center of the development process is brilliant. I also like the idea that Serena, Dwyane and Mia play different sports from golf, but we’re all committed to building something that makes an impact for sports and athletes at all levels. The products are really best in class – and truly solve problems we face each day. Sweaty hands can make a big difference in golf, and Mission’s Power Grip solves that problem, just as their EnduraCool Instant Cooling Towels can give me (and my caddy) a quick hit of cooling fresh in between holes. The sun and heat can be brutal on the course.
6. What Mission Athletecare products do you use most while training and competing?
I use all of them, but the ones that I use most frequently are the EnduraCool Instant Cooling Towels, SPF 30 and Power Grip – all of which help me in training and competition. The new EnduraCool Towel is as important as anything else in my bag – and trust me, my caddy needs it just as much as I do, if not more – staying cool is key to performance.
7. The Tour seems to still be adjusting to a number of rising stars along with the veterans who are playing well again. You are kind of in the middle as a rather young veteran. Where do you see your game going in the next few years?
Golf is seeing a new generation of exciting, young players doing well, which is great for the game. It helps push the veteran players to keep getting better and it will definitely attract young fans. I like where I sit and am excited about where my game is headed. Experience is a wonderful asset in this game, and I think the more experienced players have shown the younger guys that it takes a lot of hard work to get to where we are. They’re going to have to fight to take any wins away from us.
8. Golf is again trying to expand its grassroots efforts globally, what are the best ways you have seen to get young people back and interested in the game?
We have seen some initiatives, like ‘Tee it up’ in the U.S., that aim to make the game accessible and fun for as many people as possible. Golf is the ultimate sporting challenge that you can enjoy for a lifetime. Exposing young people to the game through programs like The First Tee give them the same thrill that we all felt when we hit that first good golf shot. I think golf being in the Olympics in 2016 will also do great things for the future of the game. I’m excited to see where it goes.