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Coming of age: El Niño becomes El Hombre

El Nino–the kid–finally won his first Major on the 74th attempt. Sergio Garcia’s ability has never been questioned, but now he is finally a member of golf’s inner circle.

Since coming to Augusta as an amateur in 1999, Sergio was the pinup boy for another way, a possible challenger to the Tiger throne. Tiger’s clinical attitude contrasted perfectly with Sergio’s cavalier streak, his swashbuckling nature, and if we’re all perfectly honest, petulant boyishness.

Sergio entered maturity, in golfing terms at least, and the patience of the public began to wear thin; temper tantrums, spitting, and juvenile behaviour slowly altered our perception. Jim Furyk–golf’s inoffensive elder statesman–was so shocked by the young Spaniard’s behaviour at the 2002 Ryder Cup, he described the result as a loss to “eleven gentleman and one little boy.” Wow, what a damning assessment from a very reliable source.

This sentiment was slowly ingested by the wider golfing community, and Sergio’s fate was sealed, by Americans in particular. This wasn’t helped by a nasty spat with Tiger Woods when Sergio’s loquacious nature produced a rather unpleasant racial slur, one he will always regret. This is worth mentioning as we remember the standing ovation he received; “He deserves it” we all said.

Sergio has never grown up, he is still that young, skinny player–minus the baggy, turd-coloured golf shirt. He still plays with the emotion of a rebellious teenager, the passion of a matador.And that is why we all let out a smile as that final putt slipped in, safe in the knowledge a score had been settled.

You can’t have Sergio without the occasional flaw. We are all Sergio fans today. Just see what the players think:

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