It was a rough start to the new year. It was a wonderful start to the new year.
Sergio Garcia bogeyed two of his first three holes on Thursday at the Sentry Tournament of Champions but rallied for a 6-under 67 to share the Round 1 lead.
Garcia, who turns 41 on Saturday, bogeyed the first and third holes on the Plantation Course before erasing those two dropped shots with an eagle at the par-5 fifth. He finished with a clean card, six birdies and no bogeys, for his 67 on the par-73 layout.
“Yeah, obviously a little nervy early on, I guess, a couple missed shots and a couple missed putts. But the chip-in for eagle on [No.] 5 definitely settled me down a little bit and I started hitting it, trusting myself a little bit more, hitting a lot of good shots, hitting a lot of good putts and making a few in there,” Garcia said.
“I still missed a couple good opportunities, but to be able to come back after being 2 over through three and shoot 6 under is a good start.”
This is Garcia’s first appearance in the event since 2006. He has been eligible in previous years but earned his ticket to this edition thanks to a victory at the 2020 Sanderson Farms Championship, his first title since the ‘17 Masters Tournament.
The Spaniard is usually in Europe this time of year and plays some of the Middle East events on the European Tour instead of making the trek to Hawaii. This year, however, he and wife Angela, along with their two young children, were home in Austin, Texas, making a Maui return less arduous.
Garcia stated that the family wanted to visit his parents in Spain, but the country was facing the prospect of a lockdown because of the novel coronavirus. Garcia contracted COVID-19 in November, knocking him out of the Masters.
This is his first event since the Vivint Houston Open, Augusta National’s predecessor.
Garcia is an 11-time PGA Tour winner with one of those titles coming here in 2002, when he closed in 64 and defeated David Toms in a playoff.
“I remember it was my first year here, so obviously really nice to be able to win on your first try,” Garcia said.
“I played better as the week went on and played really, really well on Sunday, obviously made a couple, made a clutch putt on [No.] 18 to give myself a shot at being in the playoff with David Toms and then the putt I made [to win].”
“I was doing an interview the other day and they showed me a couple of clips of those putts and, yeah, I looked really young which was nice,” he added with a laugh. “But, yeah, it was fun, it was fun to recall some of those memories.”