Confidence still an issue for Sergio

SPAIN’S Sergio Garcia rolled back the years with a first round 69 at the Masters but admitted he was still dogged by moments of self doubt.

The former Ryder Cup star has faded into relative anonymity in recent years having slid to as low as 82 in the world rankings and last month conceded “I don’t know if I can be good again”.

But the 31-year-old, arguably the greatest player never to win a Major, looked far more like his old self amid the unique surroundings of Augusta.

A bogey on the final hole took off some of the gloss and Garcia conceded he never felt fully at ease.

“To finish under par at Augusta is always positive. The eagle at 13 was pivotal and I?felt I could have picked up more shots after that.

“But the ball wouldn’t drop for me. The truth is that Augusta is a course that tests your patience, you know it can be unkind at any moment. You can play very well and then it can play a trick and overthrow all the day’s work.

“I missed a couple of putts, some six-footers that mean some bad thoughts come into your head. It’s never nice to bogey the last but I can’t be unhappy at being under par.”

Golf’s other fading institution, Tiger Woods, against failed to break 70 in the first round of the Masters – he’s done so only once in 17 attempts – but declared himself content with his afternoon’s work.

“I’m right there in the ballgame,” Woods said after a one-under-par 71 left him in the chasing pack. “I’m only six back. We’ve got a lot of golf ahead of us but I’d still rather be where [leader] Rory McIlroy is.

“Today was one of those days where I hit some beautiful putts. I was hitting my lines and they just weren’t going in. That’s fine. It’s not like I was pulling it or blocking it or something like that.”

LEADERBOARD | THE MASTERS

-7 Rory McIlroy (Northern Ireland)
-7 Alvaro Quiros (Spain
-5 Y.E. Yan (South Korea)
-5 KJ Choi (South Korea)
-4 Matt Kuchar (USA)
-4 Ricky Barnes (USA)

Selected Others

-2 Phil Mickelson (USA)
-1 Tiger Woods (USA)
E Luke Donald (England)
+2 Graeme McDowell (Northern Ireland)