Garcia eyes PGA pulling power in Tour tug of war
AS Sergio Garcia leapt into contention at the PGA Tour's annual outing to Malaysia, the CIMB Classic, the Spanish Ryder Cup star inevitably drew attention to the ongoing tug of war between Europe and America for the world's leading golfers.
Usually, the massive purses on offer at US Tour events gives them the advantage, though the playing field is level this week, with limited 78-man fields at the CIMB Classic and the European Tour's BMW Masters in Shanghai both competing for $7m in prize money.
Four of the world's top 20 – Henrik Stenson, Luke Donald, Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell – are playing in China, against just three – Phil Mickelson, Keegan Bradley and Garcia – in Kuala Lumpur.
So what made Garcia choose Kuala Lumpur ahead of Shanghai? "Well, you know, I wanted to get a couple of starts on the PGA Tour schedule for next season," he explained. "It kind of fitted in nicely to come here and then play HSBC (next week's dual-sanctioned WGC event in Shanghai)."
The US circuit has already opened its 2013/2014 campaign and with PGA Tour members obliged by rule to play a minimum 15 official events (against 13 in Europe) it's a great way for Garcia to take some pressure off himself in a Ryder Cup year.
Garcia returned from a four-week break to shoot a splendid bogey-free first-round 66 to lie third behind Americans Ryan Moore (63) and Bradley (65), while Mickelson registered two double-bogeys in a wayward opening 71.