The year is 2002. The place, Mount Juliet. The best golfers in the world are in Kilkenny for the WGC-American Express, and I’m there to watch them.
Woods, Mickelson, Goosen, Singh, the place had it all, especially for a freckle-faced pre-pubescent like me, programme in-hand and Bic biro at the ready, hunting signatures like an activist with a petition trying to save the trees.
I’m battling for prime real-estate along the walkway from the 18th green to the scorer’s hut, the queue six deep by the railings with kids squawking at passers-by like thirsty patrons in Copper Face Jacks pleading for a drink.
There’s everyone’s favourite, Mickelson, scribbling sonnets to beat the band, his peroxide white teeth blinding the sun-burnt kids as he pats them on the head. Others sign with less enthusiasm but they still get in on the act, their hand hardly legible as you weigh up how you’ll convince the lads at school that those jagged lines that look like someone testing a pen for ink actually belong to a famous golfer.
And then Sergio Garcia appears on the runway of dreams.
22 and destined for greatness. Oh to be Sergio G. Already a Ryder Cup star. Full of character, and that Spanish flair. Tiger’s not going to stop and chat but Sergio is the next best thing. He’s the next big thing. And his John Hancock was all this John needed to feel complete.
‘Sergio’, ‘Sergio’, they screamed. Voices cracking. Glass shattering in the clubhouse. ‘Give us a ball’. ‘Give us your hat’. ‘Glove! Glove! Glove!’
Pathetic. Kids reeking of desperation and B.O. A deadly combo. And then there’s me. Sure I stink, but not of desperation. Much like Mickelson asked ‘did I get your autograph, buddy?’ as I hung back, solemn-faced like something out of Angela’s Ashes, Garcia would notice me too. He’d take pity on me. Fall into my lovable trap.
Either that, or he’d snatch the first kid’s hat without making eye contact with him, walk a few strides with it in his grip, jab the thing repeatedly with a marker and then fling it over his shoulder without so much as a glance. One or two more hats got the same treatment – Sergio sparking a mosh pit in Mount Juliet as kids piled on top of each other, fighting tooth and nail for a hat they didn’t own.
With that scarring memory regaled, what happened last night at the Wells Fargo came as little surprise to me – good old Sergio tossing his toys out of the pram after a lost ball ruling went against him.
“I can’t wait to leave this tour,” lamented Garcia having been deemed to have used up his 3-minute allowance. “Just a couple more weeks until I don’t have to deal with you anymore,” he moaned, all but confirming what we already know, he’s off to see Shark Norman, the wonderful wizard of Oz.
Sergio Garcia, frustrated with what he thought was the early start of the clock to look for a lost ball, seemingly telling a rules official…
…I cant wait to leave this tour
…cant wait to get outta here
…just a couple more weeks until I don’t have to deal with you any more pic.twitter.com/k1qRRYbmsF
— The Fried Egg (@the_fried_egg) May 5, 2022
Some might see Sergio’s latest angry outburst as a thing of beauty – that Latin spark that once lured me in, that endearing heart on your sleeve bravado. Sadly old Sergio lacks the charm to pull it off.
Thursday’s petulance was one of several examples of his penchant for drama, and for me at least, it served as a hopeful final salute from a Saudi-bound spoiled brat bemoaning a tour that provided him a platform to earn more than 54 million dollars. Adios amigo!
I repeat, Sergio’s latest strop came as little surprise, and when I think back to my disappointed self at Mount Juliet as he strode off into the sunset without a care in the world, I remember how I reacted. I didn’t bother complaining like the other kids. I didn’t groan or whimper. Wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of a sorrowful stare. I just thought to myself, ‘that fella’s a bit of a prick’, and as I trudged off to find Dad in the tented village, I simply wondered why every tour star can’t be like Phil Mickelson.
What a good judge of character I am!
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