Garcia can still save a bleak year

Sergio Garcia will go into this week’s Madrid Masters still searching for his first top-three finish of 2009.

Sergio Garcia will go into the Madrid Masters this week still searching for his first top-three finish of 2009.
This was the year when Sergio Garcia could have dethroned Tiger Woods as world number one.
But instead he plays in this week’s Madrid Masters still searching for his first top-three finish of 2009 – in his 22nd event.
The 28-year-old has to think back only 12 months ago, though, to realise there is a lot of golf to be played yet this year – Garcia won his home Castellon Masters in October, then went to the HSBC Champions tournament in Shanghai two weeks later and won that as well.
That should tell him there is still time to turn a desperately disappointing year into a memorable one.
He even still has a chance to become European number one for the first time.
Garcia is currently 12th on the money list, £900,000 behind new leader Rory McIlroy. But while the tournament starting tomorrow cannot be classed a ‘biggie’, the first prize is still £225,000 – and there are some massive events coming up.
It was his victory in China 11 months ago – after a play-off with Oliver Wilson – that took Garcia to second place on the world rankings.
The chance to overtake Woods came in Miami this March. Garcia had to win the WGC-CA Championship – and Woods, playing the second event of his comeback from knee surgery, had to finish outside the top 26.
No European had been top since Nick Faldo in 1994, and Garcia said: “It would be nice to accomplish something like that – and more than anything when Tiger is around, which is even tougher.”
He managed only 31st place in the event, though – and with Woods coming ninth, the gap widened. It has widened further most weeks since.
After bringing the difference between them down from 16 points to less than 1.6, it is now back up to nearly 11 – and Garcia is down to world number eight.
After two weeks off – he failed to qualify for the Tour Championship in America – Garcia returns to action tomorrow against a field that includes Luke Donald, Darren Clarke, Paul Lawrie and Jose Maria Olazabal.