TENERIFE (Spain): Sergio Garcia hopes to reap the benefits of two months' remodelling of his swing with his coach and father Victor when he defends the Canaries Spanish Open at Tenerife's Golf Costa Adeje this week.
The 23-year-old Spaniard has slipped to number 11 in the world after being ranked fifth during last year's Ryder Cup, but has been working hard to build a swing that will bring him greater rewards in the major championships.
Garcia, who concedes that his swing changes are “still a little uncomfortable”, is also determined to chalk up a second national home title.
“I'm thinking about the future,” he told reporters on Wednesday.
“I don't mind losing half a season, a season, if this is going to improve my career.”
Garcia seemed set for a major breakthrough after finishing second behind Tiger Woods at the 1999 US PGA championship and then fourth at last year's US Open.
But, although he was the only player to finish in the top 10 at all four of last year's majors, the Spaniard felt he was not consistent enough at the game's highest level.
“When I was not perfectly on the ball, I felt there was too much uncontrolled movement on my swing,” he said.
“Now I'm older and stronger, it is harder to control and the consistency was not there.
“I've been thinking about this for a long while and talked it over with my dad and my mum and my family and realised it was the time to do it.”
However Garcia's swing change has not met with the wholehearted approval of Spain's most famous golfer, five-times major winner Seve Ballesteros.
“When things are going well, why should you change,” said Ballesteros, who this week celebrates an unbroken run of 30 appearances at the Spanish Open, which he has won three times.
“It was fantastic (for him) to be in the top 10 in all four majors last year and, if his progress is getting better and better, why change?
“Time will be the judge. In three years, he may regret it or think it was the right thing to do.”
Garcia, who tied for 28th at the US Masters 10 days ago, could come under threat this week from compatriot Jose Maria Olazabal, who emerged from a lengthy slump to share eighth spot at Augusta National.
The Spanish title has so far eluded Olazabal but he is wary about breaking his duck, despite his impressive form at the Masters shortly after making a swing adjustment with his coach Butch Harmon.
Olazabal is well aware of the low-scoring opportunities at Golf Costa Adeje, where there are six par-three holes and also six short par-fives that are all reachable in two by the pros.
Several players are predicting an official round of 59 could be achieved on the European Tour this week for the first time. – Reuters