Golf

Sergio Garcia throws down Masters gauntlet

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Garcia shot a round of 65 on the second day at Houston Open (©GettyImages)
Garcia shot a round of 65 on the second day at Houston Open (©GettyImages).

Sergio Garcia says that he is in the best place he has been in for six years, as he heads into next week’s US Masters.

Garcia has been in blistering form at the Shell Houston Open, the final tournament before the most coveted major in golf begins, carding a round of 65 in the blustery conditions today, and currently leads the field on -12, one shot ahead of Matt Kuchar.

The 34-year-old was naturally delighted with his seven-under-par round, too.

He said to reporters in Houston: “I was thinking when I teed off today I would be able to shoot three, four-under and I would be happy as Larry.

“To be able to shoot seven under in those conditions was really, really nice.”

The Spaniard is widely considered to be one of the most talented golfers never to win a major and will be keen to remove this particular stigma that is attached to him at Augusta, which starts on April 10th.

However, as he admits, he rarely has been in such good form going into the event.

“It’s difficult to say how good my golf is compared to the past, but I would say it’s the best it’s been since 2008 PGA,” Garcia explained.

“I felt really, really good there and at Oakland Hills, where I was close to winning.

“This week I am feeling really good. There is nothing bothering me health-wise, and I just feel good on the golf course. Hopefully things may happen for me.”

In 2008 Garcia was in the lead heading into the back-nine on the final-round at the PGA Championships, but eventually surrendered his advantage, after making a costly error on the 16th hole, to Padraig Harrington, who went on to take the title.

If he is feeling like this again, though, then the field at Augusta should take note. With Tiger Woods not competing in the competition this year for the first time in his professional career, the tournament looks particularly open and Garcia will fancy his chances at finally taking home the green jacket.

He has a proven track record in the Masters with three top-ten finishes in 2002, 2004 and in last year’s competition, where he ended up T8.

But, despite his impressive showing at Augusta, 2013 was a difficult one for Garcia as he got embroiled in controversy after he made comments that were taken as racially insensitive by Tiger Woods. He says that he is over the situation now and feeling happy once again now, though.

“There is no doubt I am in a comfortable place,” Garcia said.

“Everybody knows, pretty much, what has gone on in my life, and it’s never fun to go through some of those emotions.

“But you get to learn from those downs and to really enjoy the highs as much as you can. I am definitely happier outside the golf course, which makes me happy on the golf course.

“It doesn’t mean I am playing well all the time but at least, I feel like I am in a good frame of mind and in a lot better place.”

Whilst most the signs may be promising for Garcia, no winner of the Houston Open has ever followed it up with a Masters victory. As such, it looks like the Spaniard may well have to be breaking two records next week if he is to win his first major at Augusta.

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Topics:
US Masters
Golf
Sergio Garcia
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