April 12, 2013

The early surge at the Masters is Sergio's

Sergio Garcia is tied for the first-round lead, with Tiger Woods sitting four shots behind.

The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

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Sergio Garcia, who doubted last year he ever could win a Masters, listens to his caddie, Greg Hearmon, during his first-round 66 on Thursday. Garcia is tied for the lead.

The Associated Press

LEADERBOARD

Two at the top

Marc Leishman, 35-31--66

Sergio Garcia, 32-34--66

Right behind

Dustin Johnson, 33-34--67

Notables

Fred Couples, 34-34--68

Adam Scott, 34-35--69

Jim Furyk, 33-36--69

Brandt Snedeker, 35-35--70

Tiger Woods, 34-36--70

Luke Donald, 36-35 --71

Ernie Els, 36-35--71

Phil Mickelson, 38-33--71

Rory McIlroy, 34-38--72

Bubba Watson, 38-37--75

TV FRIDAY: 3 p.m. ESPN

"It's obviously not my most favorite place," he said, "but you know, we try to enjoy it as much as we can each time we come here. Sometimes it comes out better than others, but today it was one of those good days. Let's enjoy it while it lasts."

That was a far different attitude than last year on the weekend, when he went from one shot out of the lead going into the third round to back in the pack with a 75. He told Spanish reporters that day he had been trying his entire career to win a major and "I don't feel capable of winning. After 13 years, my chances are over. I'm not good enough for the majors. That's it."

Garcia struggled off the tee on the back nine and three-putted for par at the 13th. He also made tough par saves on the 11th and 17th for his first bogey-free round at the Masters since 2002.

"The last eight holes mean a lot that I kept my composure, even though I didn't hit it as well as I did the first 10," he said.

Composure is everything to Garcia, a 33-year-old who still acts like a kid. Only three weeks ago, he hit a tee shot at Bay Hill that settled on a large branch in a tree. Garcia climbed the tree, played a remarkable backhanded shot to the fairway, then jumped some 10 feet to the ground. He withdrew a few holes later when the rain arrived.

He smiles. He sulks. And he always says what he's thinking, which sometimes gets him in trouble. Garcia doesn't regret his comments at Augusta last year, only that he didn't choose his words carefully. He chalked it up to frustration but said he's trying just as hard as when he was 19 and challenged Woods at Medinah in the 1999 PGA.

"Every time I tee it off, I try to play as well as I can, hope that my best that week is really, really good," Garcia said. "And if I manage to do that, I will have a chance at winning. If my best is not that good, then I'll struggle a little bit. Today my best was pretty good. And I'm looking forward to doing the same thing the next three days."

Guan only wants to enjoy himself and as he sat for an interview, the Chinese teen looked composed. Guan said his goal was to enjoy himself, and even a score two shots better than the defending champion didn't change that.

"I think I'm pretty focused on golf," Guan said. "It's made me do pretty good so far."

Woods has higher goals. He's gone five years without winning a major, and his last Masters title was in 2005. With three PGA Tour wins and the No. 1 ranking, he's the overwhelming favorite.

He picked up birdies on a pair of the par 5s and made a short birdie putt on the sixth hole. The greens befuddled him, though, and it hurt him toward the end of the round. Woods missed a 6-foot par putt on the 14th, a 5-foot birdie putt on the 15th and a 12-foot birdie attempt on the 17th."

 

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