Sergio Garcia: Masters Champion and Ryder Cup Golf Star

Sergio Garcia reacts after saving par with a putt during The Masters Tournament in 2017.

Harry How/Getty Images


From the late 1990s to today, Sergio Garcia has been regarded as one of the most talented golfers in the sport. Even as he piled up a respectable number of wins, however, he was followed by questions about whether he had truly lived up to his potential. His long and ongoing career finally hit its peak with a win in The Masters in 2017.

Fast Facts: Sergio Garcia

  • Occupation: Professional golfer
  • Also Known As: El Niño
  • Born: January 9, 1980 in Borriol, Spain
  • Parents' Names: Victor and Consuelo Garcia
  • Key Accomplishments: Winner British Amateur Championship, The Masters, The Players Championship, 20-plus professional tournaments, Ryder Cup record-holder
  • Spouse's Name: Angela Akins
  • Child's Name: Azalea Garcia
  • Fun Fact: Garcia is co-owner of CF Borriol, a fourth-division Spanish soccer club.

Early Life and Amateur Golf

Garcia was born in Borriol, Spain, on January 9, 1980. His father was a club professional and became Sergio's first golf instructor when he began playing at age three. (Victor Garcia remains Sergio's teacher today.)

By age 12, Garcia was already a club champion. At age 15, he became the youngest-ever winner of the European Amateur Championship. By age 16, he was already making cuts in European Tour tournaments. When Garcia made his first cut at the 1995 Turespaña Open Mediterranea, he set a record (since broken) as the youngest player to make a cut on the European Tour.

15-year-old Sergio Garcia plays the European Young Masters tournament in 1995.
Sergio Garcia at age 15. Andrew Redington/Getty Images

In 1997, Garcia won the R&A's Boys Amateur Championship, the European equivalent of the U.S. Junior Amateur. That same year, Garcia won his first professional tournament (playing as an amateur): the Catalan Open Championship. Then, in 1998, he won the British Amateur Championship.

Garcia's precociousness on the golf course led to a nickname, El Niño, that stuck throughout his career, long after he was no longer "the boy."

After finishing as low amateur at the 1999 Masters Tournament, Garcia turned pro.

Pro Tours

Garcia's professional career started strong. At age 19, he won twice on the European Tour and was that tour's Rookie of the Year Award winner. At the PGA Championship, Garcia became the youngest player to lead that major since it adopted a stroke-play format in 1958 when he shot 66 in the first round.

Sergio Garcia smiles at Tiger Woods as they walk together during the PGA Championship.
Sergio Garcia battled Tiger Woods (left) at the 1999 PGA Championship. Craig Jones/Getty Images

The signature moment of his rookie year—and one of the signature moments of his career—happened in the final round of the PGA Championship when Garcia trailed leader Tiger Woods by two strokes with three holes to play. On the 16th hole, Garcia's drive stopped against the root of a large tree. Garcia took a big swing with a 6-iron, his eyes closed (because swinging at a ball against a tree root is a dangerous thing for a golfer). Remarkably, he made clean contact. Garcia then ran up the fairway, leaping into the air every few steps to try to see where the ball wound up.

Garcia wound up in second place, one shot behind the winner Woods. It appeared as though Garcia would become a major rival to Woods, and expectations for Garcia's career increased from high to very high.

Some golf pundits and fans argue that Garcia's career hasn't lived up to that early hype. But it has been a consequential career.

Garcia currently has 10 wins on the PGA Tour, 14 wins on the European Tour (he has split play between the two tours nearly every season of his career). His first PGA Tour win happened in 2001 at the Colonial. Garcia has had three multi-win years on the European Tour, two on the PGA Tour.

He led the PGA Tour in scoring average in 2008 and was European Tour Player of the Year in 2017. He was a stalwart on Team Europe in the Ryder Cup. His victories, through 2016, included The Players Championship, what some refer to as "the fifth major." Garcia has reached as high as No. 2 in the world rankings.

However, until 2016, something "major" was missing from his resume.

Major Championships

What Garcia was missing was a victory in a major championship. He had come close several times, starting with his runner-up finish in the 1999 PGA Championship. From 1999 through 2016, Garcia posted 22 Top 10 finishes in majors, but no victories.

These near-misses clearly weighed on Garcia, professionally and personally. In interviews, he often sounded deflated when discussing his performance in majors, as if he felt jinxed.

At the 2007 British Open, Garcia led the first three rounds, but a bogey on the 72nd hole dropped him into a tie with Padraig Harrington. He then lost the playoff to Harrington. Garcia tied for second at the 2014 British Open.

Danny Willett (rear) presents Sergio Garcia with the Green Jacket after Garcia won the 2017 Masters.
Slipping into the Green Jacket as Masters champ in 2017. Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Then, finally, it happened: At the 2017 Masters, Garcia won his first major championship title.

Garcia shared the lead in that tournament after the second and third rounds, but he missed a five-foot putt on the 72nd hole that would have won the tournament. Instead, he wound up tied with Justin Rose and the two went into a sudden-death playoff. On the first playoff hole, Garcia drained a 12-foot birdie putt to win The Masters and, in his 74th attempt, his first major championship trophy.

Garcia and the Ryder Cup

From his first appearance to his most recent, Garcia has been a record-setter in the Ryder Cup. In 1999, he set a record that still stands as the youngest-ever competitor (age 19) in the event. In 2018, Garcia broke the all-time record for most career points earned.

The Ryder Cup is played every other year between teams of professional golfers representing Europe and the United States. Between his 1999 and 2018 appearances, Garcia represented Team Europe in 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2012, 2014 and 2016, missing only the 2010 tournament.

Sergio Garcia celebrates as he holes a putt on the 17th green to win the match during the morning fourball matches of the 2018 Ryder Cup.
Celebrating at the 2018 Ryder Cup. Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

In his first Ryder Cup, Garcia won three of his four doubles matches and halved the other, earning 3.5 points for the European side.

He earned 4.5 points (out of a possible five) in 2004 and four points in 2006. And in 2018, Garcia went 3-1, including a singles win over Rickie Fowler. With one point for each win and a half-point for each halved match, Garcia pushed his career Ryder Cup total to 25.5 points. That bettered the previous record of 25 set by Nick Faldo.

Garcia's overall Ryder Cup match record is 22 wins, 12 losses, 7 halves, a winning percentage of 62.2. No one can question that Garcia is one of the best-ever Ryder Cup golfers.

Garcia's Pro Tournament Victories

Six Garcia's PGA Tour wins were via playoff. But Garcia also lost playoffs at six other PGA Tour tournaments, including the 2007 British Open and 2015 Players Championship.

PGA Tour Wins (10)

  • 2001 MasterCard Colonial
  • 2001 Buick Classic
  • 2002 Mercedes Championships
  • 2004 EDS Byron Nelson Championship
  • 2004 Buick Classic
  • 2005 Booz Allen Classic
  • 2008 The Players Championship
  • 2012 Wyndham Championship
  • 2016 AT&T Byron Nelson
  • 2017 Masters Tournament

European Tour Wins (15)

  • 1999 Murphy's Irish Open
  • 1999 Linde Germanome
  • 2002 Canarias Open de España
  • 2004 Mallorca Classic
  • 2005 Omega European Masters
  • 2008 Castello Masters
  • 2008 HSBC Champions
  • 2011 Castello Masters
  • 2011 Andalucia Masters
  • 2014 Commercial Bank Qatar Masters
  • 2017 Omega Dubai Desert Classic
  • 2017 Masters Tournament
  • 2017 Andalucia Valderrama Masters
  • 2018 Andalucia Valderrama Masters

Asian Tour Wins (6)

  • 2002 Kolon Cup Korean Open
  • 2008 HSBC Champions
  • 2012 Iskandar Johor Open
  • 2013 Thailand Golf Championship
  • 2015 Ho Tram Open
  • 2018 SMBC Singapore Open