Written by
Joy Chakravarty, LIV Golf Correspondent
May 02 2024
- 4 MIN
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SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia goes into this week’s LIV Golf Singapore with a lot of hope – personally, as well as for his Fireballs GC team.

The Spanish maestro has featured in two playoff losses this year – in Mayakoba after a four extra-hole thriller, and in Miami – and Singapore last year was the first of his three playoff disappointments when he fell short against Talor Gooch.

But the Serapong course at Sentosa Golf Club has always played to his biggest strength – his immense ball-striking ability – and there is no reason why Garcia should not be in the mix come Sunday.

Asked if he would love to finish just one better than last year, Garcia, who is ranked 5th in the season-long individual standing, said: “That would be ideal.

“The season has been great so far, but I think it’s not been as consistent as I would have liked it to be. Obviously, I had some really good weeks. But I also have had weeks where I felt I was in the middle of nowhere.

“I am just trying to figure a few things out with my game and with my mental side. I’m trying to be as consistent and as solid as possible. The only thing you can do out there is do your best with whatever you have. Try to give yourself a chance every week. And some weeks are always going to be better than others.”

There are a couple of tough golf courses where the 2017 Masters champion always seems to be at his best. Valderrama at his home country is one, and Sentosa is another.

“It’s a tough course. It asks you a lot of questions. You have to be very good and very precise off the tees. The greens are of good size, but they’re very fast and the pin positions can be very tricky. So, even if you’re on the green after a bad shot, you can put yourself in very tricky situations. That’s why there is a premium on ball-striking on courses like this,” explained Garcia.

Fireballs have been served well by Mexico’s Abraham Ancer, winner in Hong Kong and tied 9th in his last two starts in Miami and Adelaide.

And then there is the 22-year-old David Puig, who won his first professional title in city-state last year at the International Series Singapore in the neighboring Tanah Merah Country Club.

The young Spaniard is sporting a beard this week – a move that his girlfriend has approved. He had opened with a 64 during his International Series win and was ahead by a country mile on Sunday when he won by five shots despite shooting a 73.

Puig realizes he needs similar opening rounds in LIV Golf, something that he has struggled with.

“A good opening round is not the most important thing, but when you consider we play 54 holes against some of the best players in the world, you do want to have a good start,” said the world No105, who is on the cusp of qualifying for his first major – the PGA Championship – if all goes well. Puig has already made it to the Open Championship at Royal Troon by winning the IRS Prima Malaysian Open, which was one of the International Qualifying events.

Garcia said they haven’t spoken specifically about his opening-round issues, but added Puig was too good a talent not to figure things out.

“We haven’t quite talked that much about it. Obviously, we always try to encourage each other and I know the potential that David has… he’s a really, really good player,” said Garcia, one of Puig’s childhood heroes.

“Sometimes, we just try so hard to do well, and I think that is the case with him. As golfers, we’re all used to playing for ourselves. And when you’re part of a team and don’t do well, you feel like you have not only disappointed yourself but disappointed your teammates as well. It is easy to get on that kind of train of thought.

“At the same time, David should know that his teammates are always there for him, supporting him and they’re gonna love him no matter what. I think it’s just a matter of him feeling a bit more comfortable, a little bit looser, and just kind of doing what he does best.”

Fireballs have been in the points in every tournament, except for Adelaide last week where they finished 10th despite shooting a combined 22-under on Sunday. The all-Spanish speaking team is currently 9th in the season-long standing with a tied 4th place finish in Hong Kong being their best finish of the season so far.