Now, five years on, he’s back and there’s no doubting how thrilled he is to be here.
The eyes that had looked so dimmed, and were perilously close to welling up when Record Sport put Torrance’s comments to him behind the 18th green back in 2010, have now regained that mischievious glint.
THE view overlooking the 18th fairway at St Andrews from the balcony of Rusacks Hotel would bring a smile to any golf fan’s face.
But Sergio Garcia’s relaxed grin told the story of a guy happy with more than just his surroundings. Last time The Open was here five years ago the normally ebullient little Spaniard cut a forlorn figure that scarcely resembled the usual cheeky, wise-cracking force of nature fittingly nicknamed El Nino.
The aftermath of a painful break-up with girlfriend Morgan-Leigh Norman – daughter of Open-winning legend Greg Norman – had wounded Garcia deeply and the toll of his emotional pain was obvious for all to see.
So much so that former Ryder Cup captain Sam Torrance, shocked by his hang-dog body language on the range, said on television that he looked like he didn’t want to be there.
I’m the same when I’m playing football, tennis or whatever. “So it was a tough time but I started getting my passion and enthusiasm back towards the end of 2010. It was nice to feel the warmth of the people at Celtic Manor.” For a guy who so evidently thrives on the passion and intensity of a Ryder Cup, it’s surely no coincidence that his game over the last couple of years has looked as sunny and positive as his character.
Currently ranked 10th in the world with a notable second-place finish to Rickie Fowler at the prestigious Players Championship in May among two runner-up finishes this season, a first win since last year’s Qatar Masters seems to be edging ever closer. In the Major he loves most, in which he has been runner-up at Carnoustie in 2007 and last year at Hoylake.With no fewer than eight top-10 finishes in 18 appearances, the Claret Jug has long been considered Garcia’s best chance of finally claiming that elusive first Major he’s been threatening to win since he famously pushed Tiger Woods all the way at the 1999 USPGA.“Fortunately, I think we all learn from our experiences in life.I’ve had some great moments in mine but obviously there have been some bad ones too and it’s about learning from them to become both a better golfer and a better person.“I wouldn’t necessarily say my style of golf means I need to be happier more than anyone else to play well.I think anyone needs to be happy doing what they love. "I’m always passionate about anything I do, not just golf.