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Sergio Garcia's major curse can come to an end at the Masters

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The first morning of the Masters will see Spaniard Sergio Garcia's 18th appearance at 'The Augusta National'. The World Number 15 is one of the most recognised players within World Golf, an immensely talented player with a unique natural swing, it is one of the sport's great questions to why he is yet to claim an illusive first major championship.

After a number of close calls, Garcia will go into this week with confidence with three top 25 finishes from his last four Masters appearances. With the ability to shape the ball both ways, an impeccable bunker player with a great touch around the greens, his only Achilles heel will be his much fabled putting stroke.

It is a part of his game that has improved dramatically in recent years, it does very much depend on what type of day he is having, regardless, it is an aspect that will need to be on song if he is to claim the coveted green jacket.

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It is hard to imagine many fans would begrudge him his first major championship this week. His vibrant character and aggressive brand of golf has made him a bit of a fan favourite, particularly among the European contingent. Understandably, the world of Golf's hype, largely surrounds the new big three of Jordan Spieth, Jason Day and Rory McIlroy, with other big names such as Justin Rose and Adam Scott also considered as the front-runners for this year's tournament. A huge array of talented golfers which will provide an immense test for the Spaniard.

If Sergio Garcia is to stand any chance of victory he must apply these five key points:

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1) Putting

An obvious starting point for those knowledgeable about the man but the speed and the undulated nature of the greens at Augusta make putting an essential to victory. He has the stroke, he just has to believe it and stay positive.

All golfers have tough moments on Augusta's greens and success is as much about how the individual player responds to the adversity they will undoubtedly face at some point during the tournament. The great Gary Player got it right when he said: 'You have to love adversity' because around Augusta, probably more than any other course, you are going to have to love a bit of pain.

The Honda Classic - Final Round

2) Play to his strengths

With the anticipation of strong winds and inclement weather conditions for the week ahead, the conditions will play into Sergio's hands. More often than not, Garcia is a fantastic player in Links golf conditions. A brilliant stroke maker he has the ability to manipulate the flight and the shape of his shots with ease.

With this in mind, he needs to believe that this week is for the taking. For instance, one of Spieth's great strengths is his mentality, he believes whatever the odds that he can win, Garcia needs to tap into that ethos if he is to claim the green jacket.

3) Course Management

What makes Augusta National such a golfing mecca, is the fact that the golfer is rewarded for putting the ball in the right place and equally if you are off target you will be punished.

This is something that El Nino will need to pay close attention to. Often his mistakes seem to be due to a lack of concentration rather than anything else.

Shell Houston Open - Round Two

On the back 9 for example, a good strategy for him would be to adapt a strategy utilised by Mike Weir in 2003 and Zach Johnson in 2007. Both players used their brilliant chipping and approach games to birdie the Par 5's, showing a conservative approach against taking the holes on in two. Garcia is one of the best chippers in the game and he is brilliant within 150 yards so he should take the risk out of the equation and keep the scoreboard ticking over.

4) Attack the last round

Too often in recent years, the 36-year-old has seemingly been caught between two mentalities of whether to attack or defend when he has been in contention. Spieth and Day both illustrated last season in the Masters and the USPGA respectively that often the best way to approach the final round is to keep attacking and make sure that the title is going nowhere else but home with the player that shows the most bravery.

GOLF-US-MASTERS-ROUND4-FINAL

5) Enjoy it!

Mentality is crucial to Garcia's game. The above four points all have a theme of a negative mindset. From the outset, Sergio has to relax and enjoy the tournament. At the end of the day, it will be a fantastic tournament whatever happens in one of the best golfing environments you could wish for. If he allows himself to play well, he will.

As ever the Masters will be a great event for all sports fans, not only golfers. After last year's runaway win for Spieth, fans are craving a tight tournament and with the huge array of talented players, it is highly likely that this will occur.

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Topics:
US Masters
Tiger Woods
Golf
Sergio Garcia
Rory McIlroy

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