Monday 29 December 2014

Garcia and Leishman lead Masters

Published 12/04/2013 | 07:01

Sergio Garcia tips his cap on the 18th after taking a share of the lead
Sergio Garcia tips his cap on the 18th after taking a share of the lead (AP)

A year after claiming he was not good enough to win a major and needed to "play for second or third place", Sergio Garcia claimed a share of the lead on the opening day of the 77th Masters.

Garcia carded six birdies and no bogeys in a flawless 66 at Augusta National, joining Australia's Marc Leishman at the top of the leaderboard on six under par.

American Dustin Johnson bogeyed the 17th to finish a shot behind on five under, while world number one Tiger Woods, seeking a fifth Green Jacket, carded a two-under-par 70 - the same opening score which led to his victories in 1997, 2001 and 2002.

But Rory McIlroy could only manage a level-par 72 after five birdies and five bogeys, causing the 23-year-old Northern Irishman to complain once again this season of the need to eliminate "silly mistakes" from his game.

It is the first time the 33-year-old Garcia has led a major since the 2007 Open, when he was out in front for three days but was caught on the fourth and eventually lost out in a play-off to Padraig Harrington at Carnoustie.

Garcia finished second in the US PGA Championship as a 19-year-old back in 1999 and has had 15 top-10 finishes in 57 major appearances, but after coming 12th here last year said: "I'm not good enough. In 13 years I've come to the conclusion that I need to play for second or third place.'

"If I felt like I could win I would do it. Unfortunately at the moment, unless I get really lucky I can't really play much better than I played this week."

Speaking after his first round, Garcia said: "It was one of those moments where you are a little frustrated. It probably came out wrong the way I said it. It doesn't change that every week I tee it up and try to play my best golf and give myself a chance to win."

England's David Lynn, who described simply qualifying for the Masters as a dream come true, was in a six-strong group on four under, alongside Spain's Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar, 2008 champion Trevor Immelman and 53-year-old 1992 winner Fred Couples.

Playing only the third major of his career after securing his place by finishing second at the US PGA Championship last year, Lynn has won just once in almost 400 European Tour starts but outscored the likes of Justin Rose and Lee Westwood (both 70), Luke Donald and 2011 winner Charl Schwartzel (both 71) and defending champion Bubba Watson (75), while Ian Poulter fared even worse with a 76.

Press Association

Promoted articles

Read More

Promoted articles

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport