Sergio Garcia has said all the right things throughout the past year about how much winning the 2017 Masters has meant.
Tuesday came a rather stunning demonstration just how seriously Garcia wears the mantle of defending Masters champion.
A telephone conference call with Garcia and selected national media was scheduled for 9 that morning. It’s an annual deal for the champion to talk a few weeks out from his return to Augusta.
And at 9 sharp, the phone rang. Another Masters production strictly adhering to schedule.
Only, when Garcia began describing his surroundings, the tone of the morning changed a bit.
“About an hour and a half ago, Angela's water broke, so we are at the hospital right now,” he informed his audience. Angela’s his wife (they were married last July, and the hospital was near their home in Austin, Tex.
“We're kind of checking in, and, yeah, exciting. Nervous at the same time. But you know, she's doing well, so it's kind of very, very exciting and nerve‑wracking at the same time,” he said.
Then a pause. . .
“Can you give me just one second, please? Angela needs to tell me something,” he said.
Gee, I sure wish that woman in the initial throes of labor would quit interrupting our important interview. I need to ask her husband about his short game.
Seriously, though, how many men would have gone through with such a commitment with a first child knocking at the door?
Believe me, as a member of the sporting media, I know this much – we’re the last people with whom you want to share this blessed event. And it’s not like there wouldn’t be another less stressful time between now and the tournament to reminisce about outlasting Justin Rose in overtime for a breakthrough victory. Like maybe when he was passing a kidney stone. Or undergoing an IRS audit.
Garcia’s first major was long overdue. His first child, however, was early.
“It is kind of, I don't know, surreal, I guess you may say,” he said, echoing many a first-time father’s reaction. “It's a different feeling. Obviously, I'm not the one having it, so I'm kind of on the outside looking in, but I am excited and a little bit nervous for Angela and the baby to make sure that everything goes well. It's funny the timing, it was supposed to be on Sunday, but it looks like she's coming a little bit early. And you know, we're excited for it. So, everything looks good. We can't wait.”
Garcia’s golf game is in fine fettle, as he will return to Augusta off two top 10 finishes in Mexico and Tampa – his last round a 65 at the Valspar Championship.
“Obviously, I feel like my game is in good shape,” he said. “I'm really happy with all my new equipment, I've had a couple good weeks. So, I'm excited to go back there and defend my title as well as I can be and as well as I can do,” he said.
It has been an eventful 12 months for the 38-year-old Spaniard. Won his first major. Got married. A first child on the way.
As far as this next grand life event, Garcia was just a little anxious.
“Well, I look forward to everything, you know, to spending it with my wife, to trying to raise our daughter the best way possible, trying to make all the decisions as well as we can,” he said.
“At the end of the day, that's all we can hope for, and hopefully we have a great, healthy baby girl that grows up to be an amazing woman, and we don't have to worry too much about her.”
Um, first lesson on fatherhood, Sergio: You will always worry.
Turned out to be a long, long day and night for the Garcias, before their daughter arrived around 3 a.m. Wednesday morning (Eastern time). She will have an interesting story to tell her schoolmates years from now, when they ask, “What kind of name is Azalea?”
“Well, you see,” little Azalea Garcia will say, “my daddy waited a very long time to win this big golf tournament that is played in a garden of beautiful flowers and, see, I’m one, too. . .”