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Sergio Garcia, 2017 Masters champ, facing new ‘surreal’ experience with daughter on way

Sergio Garcia plays his shot from the second

Sergio Garcia plays his shot from the second tee during the Valspar Championship on Sunday, March 11, 2018, in Palm Harbor, Florida. Credit: AP / Mike Carlson

Sergio Garcia was decidedly nervous and greatly exhilarated. He was not sure how to describe the whole experience, other than to call it “surreal.”

He was not recalling the thrill of winning the 2017 Masters after having waited so long for his first major title. He was referring to the fact that he was doing the traditional, scheduled Masters champion’s conference call from a hospital, where his wife Angela was about to give birth to their daughter.

“It’s funny, how the timing [worked]. It was supposed to be on Sunday, but it looks like she’s coming a little early,” he told reporters on the phone from Angela’s bedside near their home in Austin, Texas. “It’s kind of very, very exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time.”

Unusual timing was what marked Garcia’s triumph, in a playoff against his friend Justin Rose, at Augusta last April. Most golf observers had figured Garcia would have won a major title much earlier and many people, including the golfer himself, had come to think it never would happen because he was 37.

But he acknowledged that his life had taken a turn toward serenity with his engagement to Angela Akins, a former reporter on Golf Channel. He and others said that his outlook and peace helped him win the green jacket, which made an appearance at their wedding in July.

“Obviously, I feel very proud for being able to win a major, and to win the Masters on top of that. But you know, like they all [ask] me, ‘Has it changed your life?’ I don’t feel like it has. I’m still doing the same things. I’m still the same guy,” he said. “I’m happy that I don’t feel it has changed me. I don’t feel like I’m better than I was before or anything like that.”

If there was any surprise in the aftermath it was that, “You know how big the Masters is, but when you win it, you realize how much bigger it is all over the world. So, it’s been an amazing experience. It’s been awesome. It’s been a tremendous honor.”

He was asked about the prospect of Tiger Woods returning to the Masters at 42, having made dramatic strides after back fusion surgery. “We all know what kind of player he is and what kind of player he can be when he’s healthy,” Garcia said of the star with whom he has had a sticky relationship. “I’m sure he’s excited to come back to Augusta. It’s a place where he’s done well, so I would expect him to do fairly well. But I don’t know how well because it’s been a while since he has been there and he will probably be a little nervous, too, which is normal.”

Garcia was excited to be dealing with a different level of nerves Tuesday morning, looking forward to fatherhood for the first time. “We do have some cute little dresses from Augusta,” he said. “I’m sure that we’ll put them on the week of the Masters.”

He added that he is not superstitious enough to do everything he did at Augusta last year, such as stay in the same place. The champion said, “We need a little bit of a bigger house now.”

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