Sergio Garcia claims he is feeling the weight of expectation on the eve of the Castello Masters at his hometown club, but he did not resemble a man under pressure.
The Spaniard is the favourite to clinch the title on the course he grew up playing and where his father Victor is still the host professional, but he warmed up today by playing a practice round with tennis star Rafael Nadal, a close friend who flew in from Majorca by helicopter, and then laughed and joked his way through a press conference.
But having not won on European soil since 2005 and knowing every inch of the par-71 course, Garcia would love to win here this week.
“Me being favourite on this course does give me more pressure,” he said.
“I know it very well, of course, but it is not made especially for my game. We have made some alterations to it for this week and I think it gives everyone a fair chance.
“It would be great to win here. It is one of my goals for this week but if it doesn’t happen, so be it. It is going to be very difficult.
“There is more pressure on me but I will try to use it in my favour.”
Garcia expressed his delight that so many of the European Tour’s top players were turning out for the event this week.
One of golf’s hottest prospects, Colombian Camilo Villegas, is also in the field and is staying at Garcia’s house – just three weeks after beating the Spaniard in a play-off for the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour.
“It is a pleasure to have Camilo here and so many other good players such as Paul Casey, Justin Rose and Nick Dougherty,” Garcia added.
“We are at the end of the season and some players could not fit it in, but we are very happy this tournament is happening and hope everyone enjoys it.”