Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Canny Garcia luring stars to Europe

Sergio Garcia has revealed how he persuaded rising stars Anthony Kim and Camilo Villegas to join the European Tour.

Several of the world's top players, including Phil Mickelson, have been considering taking up membership in order to be eligible for the US Dollars 20million Dubai World Championship in November 2009 at the end of the inaugural Race to Dubai.

Mickelson has yet to confirm his intentions but Ryder Cup star Kim and Colombian Villegas have now paid their membership fees.

"It's great," said Garcia, who is competing at the Volvo Masters today looking to add to his victory in the Castellon Masters on Sunday.

"I think any time you can get players of the calibre of Camilo and Anthony into the Tour, it's great.

"It's an asset and it's good for golf. It's good for the European Tour and it's nice to see those guys move around a little bit and not only play in the US.

"We'll welcome them with open arms and we hope they can enjoy it as much as we do.

"They asked me a couple of things and I told them how the Tour is. Everything seems to be a little bit more relaxed in Europe.

"Don't get me wrong, when we go out there we are all trying our hardest and we are all trying to win. But outside of that everything seems to be a bit more relaxed.

"I think it's a little bit looser here. You get along and have dinners and all of those kind of things.

"I think that's probably one of the things that they enjoyed and obviously The Race to Dubai is a big asset too."

Players lower down the European Tour pecking order may not share Garcia's enthusiasm over the new arrivals, but the Spaniard is concentrating on the bigger picture.

"There's no doubt that the more good players you get here, some guys are going to feel it," the 28-year-old added.

"But it happens everywhere, so you can't have both.

“If you want the Tour to get better and to grow and get to the level that it deserves, there's no doubt that you need those big players.

"Obviously if you're taking four or five spots there's going to be four or five guys that are going to struggle, but it's the way of life. You can't please everybody unfortunately."

Robert Karlsson, Padriag Harrington, Lee Westwood and Angel Miguel Jiminez battle it out for the Order of Merit title this week.

Robert Karlsson is on the verge of becoming the first Swedish player to win the Order of Merit, thanks to transforming himself from Mr Angry to Mr Consistency.

Despite Harrington claiming back-to-back major titles at the Open and USPGA Championship this year, Karlsson leads his Ryder Cup partner by £230,312 at the top of the money list.

The 39-year-old has accumulated 12 top-10 finishes and also claimed back-to-back victories in

the Mercedes-Benz Championship and Alfred Dunhill Links Championship either side of his second cup appearance at Valhalla.

His performances in the major championships were also second only to Harrington, with eighth in the Masters, fourth in the US Open, seventh in the Open and 20th in the USPGA Championship helping him amass more than £2million in prize money.

Second place at this week's season-ending Volvo Masters would secure the Order of Merit title, even if Harrington were to win, and Karlsson puts his amazing consistency down to learning to control a volcanic temper.