So much has changed with Sergio Garcia. He’s been on the golf scene for so long that we didn’t really notice that now, in addition to being a Masters champion, he’s older, wiser and happier.
Gone, at least for this Sunday, were the petulance, the blame game, the choking. In its place is evident joy and one big reason was clear the moment his playoff putt secured his green jacket: Her name is Angela Akins and she set the Internet abuzz Sunday when she and Garcia reacted with such pure, shared delight to his victory.
Maybe Akins, a Golf Channel reporter, is a golf whisperer, too. “I was at peace with it,” Garcia said of his approach to the Masters. “I had accepted what Augusta would give and take.”
Akins, who is from Marble Falls, Tex., is a golfer herself, and played for the University of Texas women’s team after transferring from Texas Christian. “[My teammates and I] created some lasting memories when we were at Texas,” she said to TexasSports.com. “We worked very hard every day practicing and staying in shape, but we were always having fun.”
Now, she and Garcia play the game together and she occasionally serves as his caddie.
Because she’s from Texas, her family’s roots are in football. Her father, Marty, was an all-American quarterback for the Longhorns and her grandfather is Ray Akins, a legendary Texas high school football coach who also happens to be the grandfather of New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees. Ray Akins won 293 games over 38 years, making him one of the state’s winningest coaches in history. That means that football runs even deeper than golf with this family.
Garcia told Golf Digest recently that having Marty on Team Sergio has been a big help. “Marty is a very, very positive, very, you know, outspoken and very, very confident kind of guy, and it definitely helps when he’s encouraging you and things like that. Those things are nice to see. Angela is the same way,” he said before the Masters. “They are all very competitive. So you know, they are positive things to help out, for sure.”
Said Marty: “He was a great player before he met Angela. I think he’s an even greater player now that they’re together. I do think she’s good for him.”
They do seem to be in sync, right down to the relieved celebration the moment his putt sank and he beat Justin Rose in the playoff Sunday.
Akins, 31, relocated to Florida when she joined the Golf Channel a little over two years ago and, after dating the golfer for almost two years, the two plan to marry after the British Open, which ends July 23. On Sunday, he was content to savor the victory with Akins and not think about the next big tournament.
“I am going to enjoy this,” he said Sunday, “for the rest of my life.”