How Sergio and Angela conquered Augusta

For years, ...

Posted: Apr 5, 2018 12:03 PM
Updated: Apr 5, 2018 12:03 PM

For years, Sergio Garcia endured heartbreak in full view of the public.

Near misses in golf's four most prestigious tournaments saw him labeled the best player to never win a major, while the breakdown of high-profile relationships had a negative impact on his golf game.

In early 2002, a romance with Martina Hingis briefly created a sporting power couple before the two split in the fall of the same year.

A break up with Morgan-Leigh Norman, daughter of Greg Norman, in 2009 hit Garcia hard and affected his performance.

Struggling to fulfill his undoubted potential, Garcia spoke of how he couldn't play to his best if he felt sub-par in his personal life.

Against this backdrop, and over 21 years, Garcia went 0 for 73 in majors. On several occasions he came close, only to falter at the final moment.

At the Masters last year, though, his luck changed. A playoff victory over Justin Rose gave him a breakthrough triumph, the seeds of which were sown in 2015.

That was the year Angela Akins came into his life. A Golf Channel TV reporter who had recently divorced, she met Garcia at a tournament in Houston.

"Sergio likes to say when he's happy off the golf course, it's easier for him to be happy on the course and that makes a lot of sense," explains Akins-Garcia, as Angela has been known since the two married last July.

"Obviously if you have turmoil in your life, anything that you're doing as a profession is going to be more difficult."

Her role in the golf media helped her understand the pressure on Garcia as a professional athlete, and his legacy of nearly moments. It also helped that she'd played college golf for the University of Texas.

''It might not be the same as playing professionally but I think I know what it takes to win,'' she told CNN Living Golf's Shane O'Donoghue. ''I know what it takes to be successful at something because all of my life I've worked really hard and that was instilled upon me by my parents.

"I might be as competitive as him, in some ways more so.''

Garcia and Akins got engaged in January last year. Three months later, the Spaniard was slipping on the green jacket.

Angela left her job on The Golf Channel to focus full time on traveling with Garcia and it paid dividends.

A big win at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in February 2017 followed soon after their engagement and Garcia arrived at the Masters in good form and a strong frame of mind.

''He just seemed calmed the entire time,'' says Angela. ''Inside I was sitting there thinking this guy is playing in the Masters, maybe the biggest tournament in the world, but he just pretends or is able to just let that go when he's off the golf course.

"I think that's what makes Sergio really special.''

And what took place on the final day at Augusta last year was special.

After the pair finished tied on nine-under-par after the final round, Garcia and Rose went back to the 18th tee to begin the playoff.

Rose's drive found the trees while Garcia's landed on the fairway. Garcia's approach came to a stop 12 feet from the hole and gave him two putts to take the title.

He only needed one.

"It's a funny feeling because I've had some of those moments where I've been quite nervy and maybe not as comfortable," the 40-year-old recalls. "This time I was comfortable because I was very calm. So I was very confident.

"Even though there was some nervous moments, I felt like I was very much in control ... I wasn't getting caught up in it.. it was great fun to be part of."

For Angela, it was the sporting highlight of a year that gave the couple plenty of reasons to smile.

"I think it's more than we expected at the beginning of the year," explains Angela.

"Obviously with the Masters win that kind of started it all off and then we got married in the summer time and then shortly after found out we were going to have a baby. It's just been incredible.

''I think that we bring out the best in each other and he's told me that I bring out the best in him.

''I mean what more can you ask for from the person that you spend the rest of your life with?''

Finding peace away from the golf course has certainly made Garcia a better player.

And the life-changing impact of his Masters win is evident in the naming of the couple's daughter; Azalea, after the most famous flower to grow at Augusta National.

''Sergio's amazing with kids,'' Angela told Living Golf late last year. ''Anyone who's been around him with children or young people can see that and they just gravitate towards him. I think he's going to be a wonderful dad.''

For Sergio and Angela, the best may still be yet to come.

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