Garcia thrills home fans at Valderrama

European Tour

Sergio Garcia wowed his Spanish fans by grabbing a share of the lead first-round lead at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters on Thursday.

The tournament is being hosted by Garcia's own foundation, and the man of the hour did not disappoint on the opening day in Sotogrande.

The reigning Masters champion shot an impressive five-under-par 66 to share the first-round lead with Dutchman Joost Luiten.

Garcia is no stranger to performing well in his native Spain, having won five of his 13 European Tour victories to date while enjoying the comforts of home.

At Real Club Valderrama on Thursday, he mixed seven birdies with two bogeys to put himself in a perfect position to make it six from 14.

Starting on the tenth, Garcia made birdies on his first, the 12th, the 15th and the 18th to turn in 32. A bogey at the first halted his progress but that was soon erased by three more birdies in a four-hole stretch to get it to six under.

A bogey at the 17th unfortunately dropped him back down to five under, but it was still a more than satisfactory day's work.

"It was nice," said Garcia. "It was gettable because it was soft but you still had to hit good shots and I was able to do that for the most part of the day. I'm very happy with my round.

"The game was on pretty much all day. I hit my irons very well, I didn't drive the ball well on the eighth hole but I was pretty much spot on there and I made some nice putts here and there. The greens were rolling quite fast, more than anything the back nine was even faster than the front. Overall I think it was very solid."

Garcia and Luiten lie one shot clear of Robert Rock and another Spaniard, Pablo Larrazabal. 

American Paul Peterson follows on three under, while a 10-man group shares sixth place on two under – including Edoardo Molinari, James Morrison, Peter Hanson and Scott Jamieson.

It was a day to forget for another home favourite, Jon Rahm, however. The World No 5 had to settle for a three-over-par 74 that leaves him with plenty of work to do over the next three days to get back in contention.