Garcia off to flying start at SMBC Singapore Open
World No. 10 among the leaders after a lightning-disrupted opening round at SMBC S'pore Open
Sergio Garcia continued last year's excellent form into the new season in the first round of the SMBC Singapore Open yesterday.
The reigning US Masters champion shares the lead with the United States' Kurt Kitayama, after both fired matching five-under 66s in the opening round at the Sentosa Golf Club's Serapong Course.
Also on five-under are Louis Oosthuizen and Tirawat Kaewsiribandit, but both of them were still playing when the first round was suspended at 5.03pm.
Play is set to resume this morning for the 78 players who have not completed round one.
Garcia, who started on the No. 10 hole, bogeyed his 15th.
The world No. 10 then converted an 18-inch birdie putt at the par-three 17th and eagled a par-five 18th from three feet, before wrapping up with three more birdies in the back nine.
Said the 38-year-old: "It's a great day, but it's challenging. I was one-over after seventh, but it didn't feel like I was playing badly.
"But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17th and 18th, I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play a solid in the back nine and it was a great round."
Last year's European Tour Player of the Year is confident of performing well over the rest of the US$1 million (S$1.3m) tournament.
The Spaniard, who is looking to top last year's fairy-tale season, said: "I just have to keep trusting myself and believing in what I'm doing.
"I'm really comfortable with the equipment that I have.
"Everything around the green feels good, so just a matter of believing and staying positive."
Everything around the green feels good, so just a matter of believing and staying positive.Sergio Garcia after completing the first round of the SmbC Singapore Open yesterday
Singapore Open newcomer Kitayama had an equally brilliant game - carding six birdies with one bogey to kick-start his season.
The 25-year-old American qualified for the event after topping the qualifying tournament at Tanjong Course on Monday with a six-under 65.
He had also earned a spot at this year's Asian Tour after coming in tied-third at the Asian School Qualifying School.
On his performance yesterday, he said: "I feel really good. I felt really confident. I started off with a birdie and just let it roll from there, just got in some good tee shots; that was the biggest thing for this course."
Meanwhile, American Casey O'Toole sank the first hole-in-one on this season's Asian and Japan Tours.
The 27-year-old American carded matching 68s with Koumei Oda of Japan and former Singapore Open champion Jyoti Randhawa to share second place.