RIFFA, Bahrain // Sergio Garcia is ready to put the fun back into his game when he starts a new season at this week's inaugural Volvo Golf Champions event.
The Spaniard, who turned 31 this month, begins the year ranked 80th in the world having plummeted 60 places in 12 months - a drop accelerated by his decision to take an extended break after last year's US PGA Championship.
That 10-week sabbatical was prompted by a run of poor form when the trademark Garcia smile was sadly absent, but the former world No 2 said he is now enjoying being back.
"I am very keen to get the season underway and definitely, looking forward to it," Garcia, a winner of 19 tournaments but none since 2008, told reporters.
"So just looking forward to playing, looking forward to enjoying it out there, and hopefully have a good time and do some of the things we know how to do.
"There is some work that needed to be done, but I think as the week goes on, we'll get better.
"I played nine holes this morning and the game feels fine. So I guess, like I said before, as the week goes on, you kind of get into competition mode and you start getting used to it. "Hopefully, we can off to a good start, get some good confidence on our side."
Apart from playing at the Castellon Masters he hosts and the European season-ender in Dubai, where he shared 21st place, the only other time Garcia has been seen out on the course since his "time-out" was as one of the European team's Ryder Cup vice-captains at Celtic Manor.
Despite Europe's victory, Ryder Cup regular Garcia said it was a frustrating experience.
"It was a bit frustrating being in Wales not as a competitor, because even though you try to do as much as possible and you try to help the team as much as you can, obviously when you're not playing you feel like you're a little bit left out," he said.
The European Tour breaks new ground this week with the staging of the Volvo Golf Champions featuring a field boasting 28 winners from last year's European Tour.