(Reuters) – U.S. Masters champion Sergio Garcia was named the European Tour’s Golfer of the Year for the first time on Thursday, capping an excellent year in which he also triumphed in the Dubai Desert Classic and the Andalucia Valderrama Masters.
The 37-year-old, who beat Englishman Justin Rose in a playoff back in April to capture his maiden major in Augusta, is the third Spaniard to win the award after Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal.
“This is an amazing honour,” Garcia said in a news release. “I think both on and off the golf course it has been a unique and unbelievable year, and one that I will definitely remember my whole life.
“I am so happy to receive this award…against the caliber of players that were in contention, (it) is incredible. Tommy (Fleetwood), Justin, Tyrrell (Hatton) and Jon (Rahm) are all amazing players, and all had unbelievable years themselves.”
Garcia, who came fourth in the Race to Dubai Rankings, won his first European Tour title in three seasons when he finished three shots clear of Henrik Stenson at the Dubai Desert Classic in February.
Two months later, he claimed the 13th European Tour title of his career in Augusta, before winning again on home soil at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters, an event hosted by his own foundation.
“Sergio Garcia had the season of his life, which is saying a lot given the glittering nature of his long career,” said Iain Carter, chairman of the Association of Golf Writers and a member of the panel that decided the winner.
“No other player in consideration matched his tally of three wins and, of course, one of those was the Masters. It was a hugely popular triumph.”
(Writing by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; editing by Mark Heinrich)