Sergio Garcia one off lead as Scots struggle in Oz

Sergio Garcia lines up a putt during the first round of the Australian PGA Championship. Picture: Getty Images
Sergio Garcia lines up a putt during the first round of the Australian PGA Championship. Picture: Getty Images
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Sergio Garcia fired a bogey-free 67 on day one of the Australian PGA Championship to sit one shot off the lead on the Gold Coast.

The Spaniard has enjoyed a stellar 2017 with wins at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and Andalucia Valderrama Masters hosted by the Sergio Garcia Foundation to go with his maiden Major Championship victory at the Masters Tournament, and is looking to end the calendar year in style with victory Down Under.

“I wouldn’t say that it was amazing but it was good,” said Garcia of his opening effort. “The most positive thing for me would be to go a bogey free round, which I didn’t realise until we got done.

“I feel like mentally I’m not quite as sharp as I was probably a month ago or so. I guess the year is kind of draining a little bit, but it was nice to play with Scotty (Adam Scott) and with Wade (Ormsby), we had a great time.”

RACV Royal Pines Resort was softened by rain - with two short delays in the morning – and even with the earliest tee time in his professional career at 6:10am, the Spaniard’s five under par opening round gave him the early clubhouse lead before Australians Jordan Zunic and Adam Bland signed for rounds of 66 towards the end of play.

World No 13 Marc Leishman matched Garcia’s round of 67 with a mixed bag that included an eagle, six birdies and three bogeys, as did Australian great Peter Senior, Daniel Nisbet and Michael Wright, to sit tied third at five under par.

Senior retired from golf during the 2016 Australian Open due to injury and was a last minute inclusion in the Australian PGA Championship field, deciding to play just 15 minutes before entries closed for the tournament.

The four-time European Tour winner turned back the clock, as the 58 year old went bogey-free on his way to carding five birdies on a course that is just 15 minutes down the road from his home.

Two-time champion Greg Chalmers turned in level par 36 from the tenth but produced a big finish with birdies on the fifth, sixth, eighth and ninth to sit at four under for the day in a large chasing group of nine Australians, with 2013 Masters winner Adam Scott one under for the tournament.

“A good start and a good finish, mixed bag in the middle,” said Scott. “Some positive signs towards the end, which is good, so I can take that into tomorrow. I hit two shots that were really ordinary and they cost me three out there.”

Grant Forrest and Scott Henry both had to settle for three-over 74s while Duncan Stewart signed for an 80 after dropping six shots in the last two holes.