THE free dinners and advice that Sergio Garcia offered a kid pro named Adam Scott will be reciprocated over a Gold Coast barbecue and baby chat when the Australian PGA hits Royal Pines.
The strong bond shared by two of the finest golfers of the modern era just got stronger on Thursday with Masters champion Garcia going public with news his first child with American bride Angela is due in March.
Scott knew in advance – as a close mate would – after attending their mid-year wedding in Texas and chatting about Garcia’s exciting visit to his home patch to play the Australian PGA from November 30-December 3.
Sunday tickets to the marquee on the Million Dollar hole have sold out and corporate hospitality packages have been snapped up more briskly than when Scott played the PGA at RACV Royal Pines as Masters champion in 2013.
HOLE IN ONE: Melbourne steals Open from Sydney
Some of it has to do with Scott, some has to do with Garcia and plenty has been driven by the buzz of Scott v Garcia as a riveting duel in the sun.
“Sergio’s playing in my backyard and it’s going to be great fun as a competitor but it’s also very exciting for the Australian PGA,” Scott said yesterday at home on the Gold Coast.
“He’s a true superstar but also an emotional guy when he plays with his Spanish flair which is very appealing for fans.
“I don’t get to play, or even win, in front of family and friends very often so I want to be in this tussle, in the mix for the PGA with Sergio.”
The pair were born just six months apart in 1980 and, at 37, have shared many of the same highs and career dips plus the soaring validation of becoming a Masters champion at Augusta.
At 19, Garcia had already announced himself by finishing second to Tiger Woods at the 1999 PGA Championship at Medinah in the US so he was valued counsel for a young Aussie trying to earn his own tour cards in Europe and the US.
“Sergio was very kind in those early years and took me under his wing for practice rounds and wouldn’t let me pay for dinners when I was still trying to earn my tour cards,” Scott said.
“I’ve never forgotten that.
“We’re going to be competing at the Australian PGA but I’m going to host him in a way as well with an Aussie barbecue, pointing him towards the right restaurants and the places they’ll have the best time on the Gold Coast.”
The Gold Coast’s budding tour guide has been flu-hit since returning to his Sanctuary Cove base from the Presidents Cup rout in the US but Thursday’s photo call with two striking golf bags sculptured in sand got him talking about a fresh season lift-off.
“I’d call my golf this year ‘consistently average’ but it wasn’t a mystery as to why so I’m confident of where I can get my game back to,” Scott said of family priorities with wife Marie and the August birth of his second child Byron.
Scott confirmed that his first son’s name was in part a nod to the late Byron Nelson, “a little connection to a great man in golf” and a gentleman champion in five majors.
“I know becoming a father can’t happen quickly enough for Sergio … he’ll be counting down the months,” Scott said.
“It’s a big life change of course but you take it with all the positives.
“So many guys on tour have played even better since having a child because it feels like it takes a bit of pressure off their game because golf slips down the priority list a bit.”
Scott will fly next week to tournaments in Korea and China to fire up his new season before bidding for a second Kirkwood Cup at Royal Pines.