Refocused Garcia can see clearly now as he goes after major prize this season

Thu, Jan 31, 2013, 00:00

Former world number two Sergio Garcia, who has long battled a lack of confidence on the greens, says eye surgery last year has helped him to read putts better as the Spaniard targets a first major win in 2013.

Since surgery in October to correct an astigmatism, the 33-year-old has recorded a tied-ninth finish at the DP World Tour Championship before coming joint-second in his season-opener at last week’s Qatar Masters. The world number 14 , now feels more comfortable when reading greens.

“Although I’ve always felt like I’ve been a good green reader, the surgery has helped me focus on small spots more easily than before” Garcia said ahead of the Dubai Desert Classic.

A little blurry

“When I was aiming before it would get a little blurry and then I would lose the spot a little bit. Now I can see a little bit sharper, so it makes it easier.”

Garcia, who won on the Asian Tour in December in Malaysia, came within a whisker of his 11th European Tour title last week when Englands Chris Wood eagled the last to deny Garcia and South African George Coetzee a play-off.

Garcia has notched up eight top-five finishes in the four majors since he finished second at the 1999 USPGA Championship behind Tiger Woods.

Watching Garcia’s performance this week will be Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley, who will be teeing off in Dubai today, as well as fellow Irishmen Michael Hoey, Peter Lawrie, Shane Lowry, Damien McGrane and Gareth Maybin.

Lowest position

Another Ryder Cup stalwart, Lee Westwood, finds himself down to eighth in the world – his lowest position for over three years – as he starts his 2013 campaign in Dubai.

In May 2003 Westwood had fallen all the way from fourth to 266th and must have wondered what the future might hold.

The best was still to come, though. Six European Tour wins later, and less than three months away from his 40th birthday, Westwood hopes there is even better to come – that first major title, of course – and he aims to show this week his recent move with his family from Worksop to the United States is paying dividends.

“I played a lot more this winter than I would normally play – there’s no rust,” he said.

“I’m feeling good, so it doesn’t bother me turning 40. My short game is sharper and definitely my putting. The greens out there are so quick I’m actually coming here this week to slower greens.

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