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Garcia provides bang for buck at RACV Royal Pines

Garcia tees off at his 10th hole today (Photo: Henry Peters )
Sergio Garcia is no doubt being reimbursed handsomely to just appear at the Australian PGA Championship this week but it is one thing to be paid a lot of money and another thing completely to deliver.

Today, the Spaniard did just that when he opened with a five under round of 67 to lead the morning field on what was an overcast and damp start at RACV Royal Pines.

Play was suspended on two occasions during the morning round, one stoppage for 25 minutes the other for just 10 but the revamped design undertaken by Australian golf course designer Graham Marsh has ensured this low-lying layout now drains perfectly and, after significant downpours, play was quickly underway.

“It was a long round,” said Garcia. “Obviously a couple rain delays on the course and not what you hope for, but other than that I felt like I played pretty solid. 

The reigning Masters champion finished the morning one clear of dual Australian PGA champion Greg Chalmers and fellow Australians Rhein Gibson and Stephen Dartnall while Garcia's playing partners Adam Scott and Wade Ormsby each opened with 71.

“I wouldn't say that it was amazing but it was good. The most positive thing for me would be to go a bogey‑free round, which I didn't realise until we got done. But yeah, it was a nice round. 

“I feel like mentally I'm not quite as sharp as I was probably a month ago or so. I guess the year is kind of draining a little bit, but it was nice to play with Scotty and with Wade, we had a great time. Other than a couple of times where it poured down on us, it was a fun day.

“The greens, other than when it started pouring and were filled with water, held up great. The water ‑ as soon as it stopped raining, they drained very, very nicely. The fairways did quite well but they were a little bit wetter. 

Garcia has appeared a lot happier person on the golf course over the past 12 months and his win at the Masters was a great example of just how he is putting the bad moments behind him in what he has declared his best year in professional golf.

“You still have to work on it because it's easy to get frustrated and kind of lose it a little bit, and now towards the end of the season it's even easier to do so because mentally you're not as fresh, you're not as strong and it's easy to do that.

“So like I said, that's one of my goals every single year. I'm not so worried about, you know, trying to win two or three, four, one, eight times a year. I'm more worried about trying to keep improving on the aspects of the game that I know that I can improve and that I've shown myself that I can be much better at. 

“I think that is important and I'm going to have to be able to keep it the same way because it's going to be a tough three days out here. This course is demanding and you have to stay very patient out there.

Scott struggled on the greens despite a decision to switch to the long putter after nearly two years with the short putter.

The former World No. 1's 71 left him in a share of 24th place at the completion of morning play.

Adam Scott during his opening round.

“Yeah, a good start and a good finish, mixed bag in the middle,” said the 2013 Australian PGA champion. “Some positive signs towards the end, which is good, so I can take that into tomorrow. I hit two shots that were really ordinary and they cost me three out there. So it's easy to just talk about a shot here and three there, but that's what it felt like today. The rest was pretty solid. 

“The greens slowed down obviously as we had some rain and a couple delays. A couple putts that you're hoping from 15 or 20 feet to drop in just dived across the front. So all in all not too bad. Didn't let Sergio get too far ahead. Try and make up a few on the lead tomorrow and be in position for the weekend to be good.”






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