It will be an achievement sparked by a kiss if Sergio Garcia can become the first player since Tiger Woods 16 years ago to make a successful title defence in the Masters.
Twelve months ago, Garcia’s then fiancée Angela Adkins inspired the Spaniard to finally become a major winner by leaving messages for him around their rented house in Augusta.
According to Garcia, she can once again play some part in this week’s outcome but in a different way. “She gets to bring our beautiful [daughter] Azalea to me every morning to make sure that I give her a kiss,” he said, sporting a huge smile even by his standards. “That’s more than enough.”
Garcia’s menu at the Champions Dinner included a taste of Scotland. “I’m a big fan of Caesar salad and we want to pay a little tribute to all the countries that have won the Masters by adding at least one or two ingredients from every one of those countries,” he revealed.
In an event that could throw up so many fascinating storylines, one of the most popular would be Phil Mickelson backing up his return to winning ways in the WGC-Mexico Championship by claiming a fourth Green Jacket.
At 47, that would see him become the event’s oldest winner, eclipsing Jack Nicklaus, who was 46 when he recorded the last of his six successes in 1986. “It is hard for me to believe given that I have watched that Masters so many times over the years,” said Mickelson of being on the brink of history. “I remember watching it when I was in high school and how hard I pulled for him and how much I loved that Masters. The other participants in that, too, from [Greg] Norman to Seve [Ballesteros] to [Tom] Kite, all these players that had great opportunities there on Sunday, what an exciting Masters that was.
“And now to think that I’m this age, the time just flies by, it goes by so quick. I can still remember the feelings as a high school player of dreaming of participating in this tournament, dreaming of winning this tournament. And for me to sit here now as a past champion, it really means a lot to me.”