Swirling wind no prob­lem for Gar­cia

The Herald (South Africa) - - Sport - Liam Del Carme

De­spite the capri­cious wind, Spain’s Ser­gio Gar­cia blazed a trail around the Gary Player Coun­try Club on Thurs­day.

He holds a four-shot lead af­ter the first round of the Ned­bank Golf Chal­lenge and a blem­ish-free round of 64.

His four-shot cush­ion is the big­gest af­ter the open­ing round on the Euro­pean Tour this year but he in­sisted he had to keep his wits about him.

“It was a great day‚” Gar­cia said. “But it wasn’t that easy.

“The course was tricky. The wind was up at times. We know how much it swirls here.

“You can play a hole in four dif­fer­ent types of wind. It doesn’t make any sense but you have to trust it.

“Some­times you are go­ing to get it right‚ some­times you are go­ing to get it wrong.

“I was for­tu­nate to get it right a lot of the time. To go bo­gey-free is al­ways great.”

Al­though the con­di­tions were tricky, the com­po­nent parts of Gar­cia’s game were in place.

“Ev­ery­thing worked well. I drove the ball nicely. I hit a lot of fair­ways and a lot of greens,” the Spa­niard said.

“I was able to make a cou­ple of re­ally nice putts.

“On a course like this, you are not go­ing to hit it to [within] two feet ev­ery time. It just doesn’t hap­pen.”

Gar­cia‚ who earned a con­fi­dence-build­ing win at his home event at Valder­rama ear­lier this year‚ was acutely aware ev­ery­thing fell into place for him on the open­ing day and stressed that there was still a long way to go.

“It’s early days. Any­one could go out there and shoot 64. You have to keep go­ing,” he said.

South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel shared sec­ond place with Fin­land’s Mikko Korho­nen and France’s Mike Lorenzo-Vera.

Schwartzel and coun­try­man Louis Oosthuizen‚ who is on three-un­der‚ lamented the swirling winds in the Pi­lanes­berg crater.

“The wind blew a lot in the be­gin­ning. On this course your start is key,” Schwartzel said.

“I only made one bo­gey‚ [which was] on eight. The wind turned on us and I came up way short.”

The for­mer Mas­ters cham­pion was sat­is­fied with his round and be­lieves a 16-un­der to­tal af­ter four rounds will be hard to beat.

De­fend­ing cham­pion Branden Grace fin­ished two-un­der‚ while fel­low South Africans Dean Burmester (level)‚ Dar­ren Fichardt and Bran­don Stone (both two-over) had un­der­whelm­ing open­ing rounds.

Tour­na­ment favourite Rory McIlroy‚ who fin­ished level par‚ rued a poor back nine.

“I ac­tu­ally played pretty nicely on the front nine but it was a bad‚ bad fin­ish‚” he lamented.

“The driver let me down a cou­ple of times, which left me out of po­si­tion and led to a cou­ple of big num­bers.

“If I can tidy that up for to­mor­row I should be all right, but ob­vi­ously I’m dis­ap­pointed right now so I’ll go and re­group and get back at it to­mor­row.”

Pic­ture: GALLO IM­AGES

SER­GIO GAR­CIA

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