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Garcia thrilled to hit ground running at Valderrama

 

By Phil Casey

Tournament host Sergio Garcia made an excellent start to his bid for a third straight victory in the weather-affected Andalucia Masters.

Garcia has finished outside the top 10 just once in 13 previous appearances at Valderrama and an opening 68 left him two shots off the clubhouse lead held by England's Ashley Chesters.

A thunderstorm delayed the start of play by two hours and another in early afternoon led to a further suspension, which meant half the 126-strong field did not complete their rounds.

"It was nice," said Garcia after his first round since becoming the top points scorer in Ryder Cup history in Europe's victory at Le Golf National in Paris.

"I didn't feel as smooth when I came back from the break. I hit a great shot on six, unfortunately missed that birdie putt and then hit a couple of loose shots, but any time you shoot under par on this course, the conditions don't matter. I'm happy about it.

"I saw a lot of great things, a couple of things that we need to improve but overall it was a good day.

"To be here at my favourite course to play, where I've been a member since last year, it's great fun and hopefully we'll get a little bit lucky. It doesn't look like the weather is going to be very helpful but it would be nice to get as many rounds as possible."

• YOU can keep your game sharp over the winter by competing in the inaugural 5-Star Lough Erne Resort Winter Series which will be played on the award-winning Faldo Championship Course.

On the first Thursday of each month from November 2018 to March 2019, competitors can battle it out for some fantastic daily prizes and a place in the Grand Final on March 28, 2019.

This six-event Stableford Winter Series is open to both male and female golfers with the leading four male and female players from each event qualifying for the Grand Final.

The entry fee for all five tournament days including the Grand Final is £175 which includes refreshments at The Halfway House.

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