Sergio Garcia making up ground after rough start

Sergio Garcia making up ground after rough start

June 13, 2013, 8:45 pm

Sergio Garcia sits at plus-3 going into Friday, tied for 78th on the leaderboard. (USA Today Images)

ARDMORE, Pa. -- He said he was unsure how he would play after everything that's happened in the last month.

But there's no way he saw a double and a quad coming. Especially back to back.

Fresh off his feud with Tiger Woods and multiple apologies for his fried chicken remarks (see story), Sergio Garcia got off to a horrid start Thursday at the U.S. Open, making a double bogey on 14 and a quadruple bogey on 15, his third and fourth holes of the day.

There are entirely average amateurs who don't do that. What happened?

"Well, 14, [my foot] slipped. I hit a 3‑wood off the tee, slipped, obviously hit it duck hook -- like a pull hook -- and went out of bounds," Garcia said. "Hit another, good 3‑wood, 7‑iron to about 16 feet and managed to 2‑putt for par -- or, well, sorry, par with the second ball.

"Then on [15], I hit just a terrible tee shot with 3‑wood, pulled it left and hit it out of bounds. And then I hit a good, decent second one to the fairway feeling down a little bit, I guess. Didn't hit the best of irons. Then, I thinned it on the green from the bunker. Hit a great chip, actually a very, very good chip from the lie I had. And unfortunately I couldn't make my [putt] for seven."

At 6-over through just five holes, and then 7-over through eighth holes, it looked as if Garcia had already played his way out of the tournament.

But he steadied himself, playing the remainder of his round at minus-4, to close with a 3-over-par 73. He sits seven shots behind Luke Donald, who is the overnight leader in the clubhouse after Round 1 was suspended because of darkness (see story).

The turnaround started with a birdie at one that led to an eagle at two. He'd make two more birdies and only one more bogey the rest of the way in.

"The eagle on two helped a lot," Garcia said. "I hit a really good drive, and I hit a 3‑wood, the wind was a little bit into the left, from 272, and probably hit it about, I want to say, about 16 feet or so. And then a little right‑to‑left putt."

The crowd let out a roar for the eagle, which Garcia said he appreciated. Coming into the week, he was unsure how he would be greeted by the galleries after his dust up with Woods and ensuing comments.

Garcia was asked if he heard any wisecracks from the fans during his round, a question which prompted the Spaniard to cock his head and repeat "wisecracks?"

Yeah, like heckling.

"No," he responded, now sort of aware of what a 'wisecrack' is. "I think there were a couple here and there. But there was ‑‑ I felt the people were very nice for the whole day. I think that they almost all of them were behind me and that was nice to see."

Whether fans will be seeing Garcia on Saturday and Sunday depends how he fares in Round 2. Garcia is currently in a tie for 78th at plus-3. The top 60 and ties make the cut. The 10-shot rule, that used to keep everyone within at least 10 shots of the lead around for the weekend, is no longer in practice.

That could prove a tough break since Garcia actually played pretty well Thursday -- other than those two bad holes.

"Yeah, unfortunately two really bad holes. But it's the way it is. The U.S. Open doesn't give you much room," he said.

"I guess I was just making my week a little bit tougher, but I tried to battle as much as I could coming in. I was able to shoot a decent score after being 7‑over through eight [holes]. I guess."