Sergio Garcia’s bid to win his first tournament in two years, here at this week’s inaugural International Series Oman, has two important factors that work in his favour.

Firstly, the 2017 Masters champion is coming back refreshed after a three-month break, which he says, “was the first time ever in my life I had three months off”, and secondly because the US$2 million tournament is part of the Asian Tour – a circuit where he has enjoyed considerable success, winning six times, the most recent of those being the 2018 Singapore Open.

Last October, the Spanish star tore his meniscus playing in the LIV Golf Miami event and took an extended break to fix the issue.

At today’s pre-event press conference American Brooks Koepka quipped to Garcia: “You sat on the couch, didn’t you, after surgery?”

Garcia was quick to respond: “Second day after surgery I was already doing rehab!”, and shortly after added, “I played golf 16 days after surgery.”

Despite being injured the Spaniard was grateful for the time out, also afforded to him by playing the less exhaustive LIV Golf schedule.

“It was the first time ever in my life I had three months off, even amateur days and stuff like that. I probably played more golf when I was an amateur,” said the 43 year old.

“But yeah, it was really nice to, obviously, like I said, to be able to take care of my knee and fix it and then rehab. It gives you, I think Brooks has mentioned this before, it gives us a bit more time to work on our bodies, kind of try to stay a little bit fitter, be a bit healthier, and then you can work on – you can take a little bit of time off from the game and then start practicing again.

“It’s something that we never really had before. But at the same time, after a couple months, you start kind of jumping up the walls and just want to get going a little bit, too. It’s a funny feeling and situation. But very happy to be at home, work on your body, practice a little bit and spend time with family, wife and kids. That’s obviously something that since COVID days we weren’t able to spend that much time together, so it was great.”

In last week’s season-opening PIF Saudi International powered by SoftBank Advisers he finished in tie for 28th after being among the front runners early on.

It was a promising start to the season and there is no doubt this week he would dearly love to secure his first win since the 2020 Sanderson Farms Championship on the PGA Tour.

“Yeah, it would be great. Obviously, yeah, we’re coming off three months off, which is nice. I obviously had meniscus surgery on my left knee, but it feels good,” said Garcia, who has not been completely winless in two years having been part of the triumphant Fireballs team at the LIV Golf Bangkok event last October.

“I’m excited about it. I feel like I played pretty well last week. Didn’t hole out as well as I would like to. But hopefully this week I’ll play solid again and hole out a little bit better and give ourselves a chance at being up there with a good solid chance at winning. Obviously, it would be great, and kind of keep building up into Mexico in a couple of weeks.”

Garcia is part of an outstanding field that has assembled for this week’s event – which is the second stop of the season on the Asian Tour, and the first International Series event of the year.

American Sihwan Kim, last year’s Asian Tour Order of Merit (OOM) winner and 19 out of the top 20 from last year’s Merit list are competing, including Zimbabwean Scott Vincent, who claimed the International Series OOM.

They are joined by a stunning line up of international stars, including Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell, South Africans Louis Oosthuizen, Branden Grace, and Charl Schartzel, and Americans Peter Uihlein, Hudson Swafford and Jason Kokrak.

Last year’s Japan Tour number one Kazuki Higa, Matt Jones from Australia, Spaniard Eugenio Chacarra, Englishman Laurie Canter, Mexico’s Carlos Ortiz and Chileans Mito Pereira and Joaquin Niemann are also competing.

Garcia has been drawn with Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond and Niemann in the first two rounds.

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