Sergio Garcia’s upside-down sponge outfit is a ghastly attention-grab

Sergio Garcia vs Sponge
Left: sponge. Right: Garcia

Augusta has witnessed a few crimes against fashion already this week, from Wyndham Clark’s cheap tablecloth of a polo neck to Dustin Johnson’s waiter-style combination of black shirt and green tie at the Champions Dinner. But nothing compared to the lemon-and-lime outfit that Sergio Garcia paraded for his opening round here, an ensemble so garish that his playing partners needed sunglasses. It was like looking at a DayGlo elf, or perhaps an upside-down kitchen sponge.

True to form, Garcia still thought he was the beau of the ball, unveiling the outfit by sashaying into his kitchen with wife Angela in a specially-filmed segment for Instagram. It smacked of a man almost pathologically desperate for attention.

The echoes were vivid of the 2006 Open at Hoylake, where he dressed head-to-toe in canary yellow alongside Tiger Woods in the final pairing. Woods duly thrashed him that day by six shots, later tweeting one of his friends: “I just bludgeoned Tweety Pie.”

Sergio Garcia in yellow at Hoylake
Garcia's previous attempt at yellow was not a success either - EPA/GEOFF CADDICK

So far, it is the less palatable side of Garcia on display at this Masters. Even before teeing off, he made the ludicrous claim that the discord between the PGA Tour and his own paymasters at LIV Golf was all just a media confection. “The professional game, maybe it’s a little more separated, mostly because of the media, not so much because of the players,” he said. On Planet Sergio, it is apparently the fourth estate to blame for the sport tearing itself apart, and not Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, who have poured billions into enlisting 13 major champions. Grace, as ever, is not his forte.

The grandeur of Augusta exacerbates the Spaniard’s hubristic, humourless tendencies. It is difficult, for example, to forget the moment in 2018 when he and his wife rounded on one American TV anchor for a harmless joke. After Garcia made a 13 at the 15th, the joint-worst score on a single hole in tournament history, the Golf Channel’s Rich Lerner joked that the couple would not be calling their next child Firethorn, the hole’s local name. They had memorably named their daughter Azalea, as a nod to his Masters triumph the previous year.

Angela did not see the funny side, angrily telling Lerner: “Next time you decide to tweet about my child’s name, why don’t you use your brain and not do it? Don’t be an idiot.” Garcia himself added to the pile-on, rebuking the presenter while insisting that he had handled his on-course meltdown “like a champion should”.

Little has been as tense, though, as his recent Augusta history of peevishly raging against every perceived slight. Last year he seethed at being reminded that he had to pay a £100,000 fine for his act of rebellion in joining LIV, which threatened the integrity of the DP World Tour. “You guys need to stop it,” he whined. “You’re making a big deal out of this.” This time, he has again suggested that he and his fellow LIV representatives are the victims of a media conspiracy.

A persecution complex is hardwired into Garcia’s psyche. In 2022, when a PGA Tour official issued him with a penalty for exceeding the three-minute time limit for a lost ball search, he petulantly snapped: “I can’t wait to get off this tour.” He knew, of course, that the Saudis were standing by to pay him more to play less. It was remarkable, in many ways, that they saw him as an attractive poster-boy for their project, given that he had intentionally vandalised five greens with his clubs at the 2019 Saudi Invitational, leaving damage that one observer likened to camel tracks.

For better or worse, Garcia constantly craves the spotlight. And it was this lust for headlines that inspired his sartorial choice at the Masters, which he has promoted all across social media.

Ian Poulter, a figure similarly fond of lurid colour schemes, has upheld his own philosophy of “look great, play great”. Would this principle hold true for Garcia? It did not look like it when deposited his ball into Rae’s Creek at the 12th en route to a double-bogey. But such are his extremes of temperament, he quickly healed the scars by sinking a 60-footer for birdie at the 13th.

At 44, he remains a truly confounding figure, offsetting the occasional brilliance of his play with awkward look-at-me gestures. As he signed for a 72, a pale scorecard given his gaudy uniform, it was hard not to conclude that Tweety Pie had lost his chirrup.

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