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Page last updated at 14:23 GMT, Wednesday, 27 May 2009 15:23 UK

Garcia hopeful of return to form

Sergio Garcia
Garcia has finished in the top four of each major but is yet to win one

Sergio Garcia will seek a return to form in his first European Tour event of the season at the European Open at the London Club in Kent on Thursday.

The world number four has not had a top-10 finish since January and a relationship with Greg Norman's daughter Morgan-Leigh ended recently.

"I definitely have more enthusiasm than I did probably a month ago," he said.

Irishman Shane Lowry makes his professional debut having won the Irish Open as an amateur two weeks ago.

The 22-year-old became only the third amateur to win a European Tour event when he triumphed at the third extra hole.

"It was the right time to do it," he said of his decision to leave the amateur ranks. "I didn't fancy teeing it up in amateur tournaments again. I've known I wanted to turn pro since I was about 15."

Lowry revealed that Irish president Mary McAleese had sent him a congratulatory message after his momentous victory at County Louth.

606: DEBATE
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"It's been madness over the last couple of weeks," he admitted. "I had played only 12 holes since the Irish Open until Tuesday."

Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell offered Lowry the chance of a lift to the course in their private jet but he said: "What would it look like?

"I think the media would have a field day with that one, to be honest. I didn't even hear about it until I landed here. Obviously I wouldn't have taken it up."

Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie, Masters champion Angel Cabrera, 20-year-old world number 16 McIlroy and last year's winner, Ross Fisher, also compete.

Shane Lowry
Lowry tunes up in the Kent sunshine ahead of his first professional event

The top prize this week will be £100,000 less than the £400,000 Fisher won last year, with the total purse £1.8m compared to £2.4m last July.

"Because hospitality and sponsorship was down it was agreed to reduce the purse," European Tour Director of International Policy director Keith Waters explained.

The atmosphere is likely to be good, however, with 70,000 free tickets having been applied for over the four days under a voucher scheme.

Fisher, meanwhile, is due to become a father two days before the Open Championship at Turnberry, starting on 16 July, and insisted he would leave the tournament should his wife go into labour, even if he was in the lead.

"My wife is expecting on the Tuesday and I think the phone will be on constantly all week," he said.

"Assuming something happens, no matter what's going on, I think I'll be straight out of there.

"Six-shot lead and a round to play? I'll still be on a plane. Is that politically correct? It's something I've dreamt about for a long, long time and it's something I certainly don't want to miss out on. There are plenty more Opens for me to play in."

I feel happier on the course and I'm definitely looking forward to playing more than I was

Out-of-form Sergio Garcia

Garcia plays the first two rounds with Fisher and is keen to put his personal difficulties behind him as the preparation for the year's second major, the US Open at Bethpage Black on 18-21 June, continues.

His most recent finishes have been 31st, 77th, 38th (at The Masters), a missed cut and 22nd, in his defence of the Players Championship.

"I practised hard, but when your head is not where it should be it doesn't matter how much you practice - you're not thinking about what you are doing," he said.

"It's been getting better slowly. My family has really helped a lot, and my friends being around me and trying to make sure that I am going the right way.

"It's just one of those thing that you've got to be a little patient. I think that you get through things and it just makes you stronger.

"I feel happier on the course and I'm definitely looking forward to playing more than I was, so that's a very positive thing."



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see also
Lowry opts to turn professional
21 May 09 |  Golf
Lowry secures Irish Open victory
17 May 09 |  Golf
Laird and Love secure Open spots
26 May 09 |  Golf
Khan and Dyson seal US Open spots
25 May 09 |  Golf
Casey holds on for Wentworth win
24 May 09 |  Golf


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