The World According to Garcia

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Hes brash and bold. He's 22 years old. He often amazes and sometimes annoys. Hes Sergio Garcia, and hes coming to a venue near you.
 
Garcia was once again a world traveler in 2002, playing primarily in the United Sates, but making trips to England, Australia, Spain, France and Korea. He still has off-season committments to compete in Singapore, Japan and South Africa.
 
In all, he played 14 events exclusive to the PGA Tour, four tournaments that counted only on the European Tour, and seven others that were mutually official.
 
The four major tournaments and the three World Golf Championship events are the primary reasons why a player like Garcia is given the opportunity to keep his card on his native circuit.
 
Those seven tournaments count towards both the PGA and European Tours, meaning Garcia need only play in four other European events to maintain his playing privilege ' which is beneficial to both parties.
 
Sergio is very important for the European Tour, said Ernie Els, who is one of the games globtrotters. Its very important for (Garcia and others) to play over there, and I know theyre getting a lot of pressure to play.
 
They increase the tours exposure.
 
Els, who was given a lifetime European Tour membership in 1999, no longer has to compete in the required 11 events to keep his card. Garcia hasnt been afforded that luxury.
 
At the beginning of the year, he said his primary goal was to win the money list on both sides of the Atlantic. He started out with a victory in the Mercedes Championships, and then won the Spanish Open in April. But those were his only two titles ' outside of a win on the Asian PGA Tour. He finished 12th in earnings on the PGA Tour, and sixth on the European Order of Merit.
 
I feel like I played a little bit too much this year, Garcia said. Its pretty much the travel. Its quite hard and the more you do it the tougher it gets.
 
Because of the fatigue factor, Garcia said he is going to cut back his schedule in 2003, if only slightly.
 
Ill probably play a little less (in the U.S.). Ill probably go down to 18 (including the majors and WGC events), so a couple less tournaments, he said.
 
Garcia added even though he will drop two or three tournaments from his PGA Tour slate next year, he would still play the required 11 events to keep his European Tour membership.
 
I really feel like I need to play on both tours. I love playing here in the States, but I really feel that Europe deserves to see me play there, because Im European and youve got to support your tour.
 
The European Tour needs that star support. Garcia, Jesper Parnevik and Jose Maria Olazabal are PGA Tour members. Others like Darren Clarke, Padraig Harrington and Thomas Bjorn are playing increasingly more in America. And two-time Order of Merit winner Retief Goosen competed in a career-high eight events exclusive to the PGA Tour this season, compared to 13 in Europe.
 
Garcia has proven to be one of the most talented and recognizable figures wherever he plays.
 
Aside from his victories on each tour, he finished tied for ninth in the WGC-Match Play Championship; tied for fourth in The Players Championship; eighth in the Masters; fourth in the U.S. Open; tied for eighth in the British Open; tied for 10th in the PGA Championship; seventh in the WGC-American Express, and tied for seventh in last weeks Volvo Masters.
 
Im quite happy with this season and my level of play has been good, he said. But Im a little unhappy in that, from the beginning of the year, I felt like my game was better and that I should have won more tournaments.
 
In order to improve on his performances, Garcia said he would dedicate his off-season to further developing his short game.
 
Im working quite hard on my putting. From probably 110, 120 yards in, Ive got to improve a little more. Its not that Im not good, but I need to be better, he said.
 
Ive been driving the ball extremely well for the last couple of years. Long irons are pretty consistent, pretty solid. If I get a little better from 120 yards in, and with my putting, the scores should get lower and lower.
 
His major focus next year is to win a major championship, where he was the only player to finish inside the top 10 in all four tournaments.
 
Though he didnt win one of golfs biggest events, he did help his team capture the Ryder Cup. He went 2-2-1 at The Belfry, but drew the ire of some of the American team members with his enthusiastic behavior. In particular, Davis Love III was put off when Garcia came sprinting down the 18th fairway to celebrate the Europeans victory ' while Loves match with Pierre Fulke was still in doubt.
 
I said, if I hurt him, I said, Im sorry, I didnt mean to, Garcia explained. We really came to one big decision, one thing that we both thought, that the Ryder Cup was over at that time. So I dont think it was that huge of a deal.
 
Jim Furyk and Garcia also had a private talk during the matches. Furyk was quoted as saying the European squad was comprised of 11 gentlemen and one little boy.
 
But despite the criticisms, Garcia said he isnt about to change his demeanor.
 
I dont know if you want me to be a robot going out there; I cant play like that, he said. If I see a guy that doesnt get excited at all, Im not going to tell him, Oh, what are you doing, thats wrong. Maybe you should ask somebody else to get a little more excited.
 
Garcias approach to the game has also annoyed some Stateside fans. He was berated at Bethpage, site of this years U.S. Open, for his constant gripping and re-gripping of the club prior to hitting a shot.
 
The fiery Spaniard fired back with a one-finger salute, but later apologized and said he didnt want to play the heavy in America, as this is where he plans to primarily compete in the future.
 
Garcia has been a member of the PGA Tour since 1999, and recently purchased Els home outside of Orlando, Fla. He admits that over the past few years he has become a bit Americanized.
 
Theres not doubt my accent has already changed, he said.
 
Its got to a point where sometimes I know a word in English and I cant get it in SpanishIts funny, but its happened.