Serene, mature Garcia strolls to win at Serapong
Spaniard claims five-stroke victory at SMBC Singapore Open
The earliest memory most fans have of golf star Sergio Garcia is of the young 19-year-old running giddily and breaking into a couple of scissor kicks after a remarkable recovery shot at the par-four 16th at the 1999 US PGA Championship.
The excitable fearless Spaniard had only just lost the Major to Tiger Woods then.
Almost 20 years later, Garcia is much calmer out on the golf course, as witnessed by the thousands who thronged Sentosa Golf Club's Serapong Course for the four rounds of this year's SMBC Singapore Open.
The reigning US Masters champion ensured a flying start to his 2018 campaign by winning the tournament with a bogey-free display on the final day yesterday, playing 27 holes after a rain-interrupted tournament.
The 38-year-old signed for a final-round three-under 68 to finish on 14-under 270, well clear of Japan's Satoshi Kodaira and South Africa's Shaun Norris, who tied for second on nine under par.
Speaking after his stroll to victory, Garcia attributed his excellent form to his family.
He said: "When you are able to have a beautiful wife and a daughter on the way, you're happy and everything is going well.
"Obviously, those things are really important and the excitement I've seen from renewing with sponsors is also important as all those things add up.
"Everything is very well and good."
Indeed, after going through 73 events without a win, the weight of the tag, best golfer not to win a Major, hung like an albatross around his neck, but after wresting the Green Jacket last year in Augusta for his first Grand Slam triumph, the world No. 10 definitely has a spring in his step.
He went to the top of the leaderboard yesterday after bagging three birdies in the remaining nine holes of his third round.
He collected three more birdies at the first, seventh and eighth holes and parred the final 10 holes to win easily at the tough Serapong Course.
Any chance the chasing pack had of Garcia stumbling came at the par-five fourth hole when he attempted to squeeze his shot between trees, but the ball ricocheted off a tree onto the fairway just before the water, and he managed to make par.
"I played nicely, but it wasn't easy. There were some very challenging holes, but I played very well and then was just steady on the back-nine to make sure I wasn't making any bogeys," Garcia said in an interview at the trophy ceremony.
"It was a great week overall. You still need to hit a lot of good shots to do well here and I was able to do that."
Local fans would have been proud of Gregory Foo and Choo Tze Huang, after the two Singaporeans finished tied for 16th at four-under 280.
But more than anything, they would have marvelled at a masterclass by a serene, mature Garcia, who seems on course for an exciting year.
He will be full of confidence when he defends his title at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic next week and the US Masters in Augusta in April.
"It's always great to start like this," Garcia said.
"To do it at this golf course against a good Asian field in tough conditions is important. Hopefully, we can carry on like that."