LONDON: Ignacio Garrido’s rich potential has been a long time flowering but one glorious week at Wentworth has confirmed him at last among the elite of the European Tour.
A nerveless playoff victory over South Africa’s up-and-coming Trevor Immelman earned him well over US$600,000 – by far the biggest cheque of his career – and the flagship title of the tour, the Volvo PGA Championship.
Sunday’s win catapulted him from a ranking among the also-rans of the European circuit to fifth in the standings just behind the man he defeated in Sunday’s sudden-death shootout, Immelman.
More importantly, it has promoted him into instant classification as a man to watch for future big events and taken him out of the shadow of his Ryder Cup-playing father Antonio and his girlfriend, the British women’s professional Samantha Head.
Garrido, 31, from Madrid, is no overnight sensation, though. He has been a steady, though by no means huge, earner since turning professional in 1993 and briefly surfaced at the top of his profession four years later when a German Open win helped earn him a Ryder Cup call-up.
Since then it has been a story of mostly toil and not a little trouble as he strove to fulfil Nick Faldo’s prediction six years ago that he would be a regular tour winner.
At the start of this year, he decided a complete rebuild of his swing was the only way to make the next breakthrough but he anticipated a long wait before discovering a technique which could stand up to the severe strain of a final day big tournament challenge.
His closing round of 65 on Sunday and then ice-cool winning birdie at the first playoff hole proved to him that he has already found a winning formula – without realising it.
“I just didn’t expect this,” Garrido told a news conference afterwards. “I’m making big swing changes at the moment. I expected to see some results this year but apart from the majors this is the tournament to win.
“After the Ryder Cup I expected great things and that was absolutely the problem. You shouldn’t expect anything, you should just let things happen and enjoy it.”
His girlfriend certainly enjoyed his moment of glory, even if it took some time to sink in.
She was playing a tournament in Japan and had asked to be woken in the small hours of the morning for news of Garrido’s final round.
“It took a while for her to understand what I was saying,” said the Spaniard. “I don’t think she could quite believe it.”
Garrido now moves 167 places up the world rankings to 62nd and Immelman has the consolation of soaring to his highest placing of 38th. – Reuters