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Posted March 13, 2018 11:03 am
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Sergio Garcia talks Masters hours before daughter Azalea is born

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    Sergio Garcia talks Masters hours before daughter Azalea is born
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    Sergio Garcia plays his shot from the second tee during the final round of the Valspar Championship golf tournament Sunday, March 11, 2018, in Palm Harbor, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)

ORLANDO, Fla. — In the most boss move in the history of the annual Masters champion teleconference, Sergio Garcia spoke for 30 minutes from the hospital while his wife, Angela, was in labor Tuesday.

“It has been an eventful morning,” Garcia said at about 8 a.m. Austin, Texas, time. “About an hour and a half ago, Angela’s water broke, so we are at the hospital right now. We’re kind of checking in, and, yeah, exciting. Nervous at the same time. But you know, she’s doing well, so it’s kind of very, very exciting and nerve wracking at the same time.”

At that point the reigning Masters champion had to briefly excuse himself to respond to his wife.

“Hold on, can you give me just one second, please? Angela needs to tell me something,” he said. “Okay, perfect. Sorry.”

Azalea Garcia was born early Wednesday morning. The Garcias decided to name their first child in connection with the site of his first major victory: Azalea is the most prominent flower at Augusta National and the name of the 13th hole that proved to be pivotal in the final round for Garcia.

Only a golfer married to a journalist – Angela Akins Garcia is a former Golf Channel reporter – could honor a media appointment in the middle of the biggest moment of his life.

“It is kind of, I don’t know, surreal, I guess you may say,” he said of talking to reporters about golf while his wife is checking into the maternity ward.

Angela's labor was the culmination of a remarkable run of life-altering events over the last year in the Garcias’ lives, from winning his first major to getting married to becoming parents.

Tuesday’s adrenaline rush getting to the hospital is on a different level of Sunday at Augusta National.

“It’s a different feeling,” he said. “Obviously I’m not the one having it, so I’m kind of on the outside looking in, but I am excited and a little bit nervous for Angela and the baby to make sure that everything goes well. It’s funny how the timing – it was supposed to be on Sunday – but it looks like she’s coming a little bit early, and you know, we’re excited for it. We can’t wait.”

Returning to the Masters as defending champion was naturally the furthest thing from Garcia’s mind. Fatherhood was his foremost concern as he gamely talked about Augusta and the green jacket and the champions dinner in between fielding questions about everything from the hardest shots at Augusta National to what color he’s painted Azalea's daughter's nursery (pink and light gray).

“I look forward to everything,” he said about fatherhood, “to spending it with my wife, Angela, to trying to raise our daughter the best way possible, trying to make all the decisions as well as we can. Hopefully we have a great, healthy baby girl that grows up to be an amazing woman, and we don’t have to worry too much about her.”

Good luck raising the child that parents don't have to worry about. That's more elusive than winning a green jacket.

Meanwhile on the Masters front, Garcia said that he gave Augusta National the 8-iron he used on his approach Sunday into the 15th hole that set up the eagle to tie Justin Rose for the lead. Every time he watches or even thinks about the roar after his putt dropped the hair on his arms stands up.

“When I look at and when I think about 15 – and not only the second shot, but the putt, the eagle putt – the energy that I felt from the patrons there, it’s something that I’ve very rarely felt,” he said. “I felt so much excitement and so much amazing, great energy going towards me when I made that putt. I thought that was a very, very special moment, even though there were other ones that were very important and special, too.”

When the family returns to the Masters in a few weeks, Garcia won’t care that he’s still not considered one of the favorites along with the usual suspects at Augusta. Oddsmakers have him installed at 28-to-1 – the 14th or 15th betting choice behind nine players who’ve never won green jackets, including the player he beat head-to-head in a playoff.

“I mean, that doesn’t really matter to me because I know what I’m capable of and I know how I’m playing,” said Garcia, who ranks No. 9 in the world with a win this year in Singapore and a pair of top-seven finishes in his last two PGA Tour starts. “Obviously I feel like my game is in good shape. I’m really happy with all my new equipment. I’ve had a couple good weeks. So I’m excited to go back there and defend my title as well as I can be and as well as I can do. If I’m looked at as a favorite or not, it doesn’t really matter, because at the end of the day, it depends on myself and what I do and what I believe.”

At the end of Tuesday, Garcia and his wife had a whole new world to worry about. He was ready to take it on.

“We can’t wait for what the future is going to bring us,” he said.