Garcia dedicates Mississippi triumph to uncles lost to COVID-19

FILE PHOTO: Sergio Garcia looks over a putt during the first round of the U.S. Open golf tournament last month at Winged Foot Golf Club - West. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports/File Photo

(Reuters) - Spaniard Sergio Garcia made a closing birdie to secure a one-shot victory at the Sanderson Farms Championship in Jackson, Mississippi, on Sunday that he dedicated to two uncles he lost to COVID-19.

Garcia, who went out in the final pairing and with a three-way share of the lead, tapped in from two feet at the last hole for a five-under-par 67 that brought him to 19 under on the week and secured his first PGA Tour triumph since the 2017 Masters.

“(My dad is) one of nine siblings, and unfortunately we lost two of his brothers because of COVID, one at the beginning, Uncle Paco, and one just last Saturday actually, not yesterday but the Saturday before, Uncle Angel,” Garcia said after earning his 11th PGA Tour victory.

“You know, it’s sad. It’s sad. And I know that a lot of families have lost a lot more people, but you never want to lose anyone like that, and I wanted to win this for them.”

Runner-up Peter Malnati, who began the day five shots behind Garcia, J.T. Poston (70) and Cameron Davis (72), shot a career-low 63 and waited around the Country Club of Jackson for nearly two hours to see if it would be enough.

Garcia was two shots back of Malnati with five holes to play but grabbed a share of the lead with an eagle at the par-five 15th where his approach shot from 260 yards hit the collar of the green and rolled to three feet from the cup.

The Spaniard then stuffed his approach shot on the par-four final hole to two feet for a tap-in birdie to secure his 11th PGA Tour win.

“Every time you play well, even if I would have not won it, it still would have been a massive high for me this week,” said Garcia, who now has victories in three different decades on the PGA Tour.

“To be able to do a lot of the things that I did, it meant a lot. It showed me a lot of what I still have and what I still can do.”

Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Richard Pullin and Kenneth Maxwell