Sergio showing signs of comeback

Sergio Garcia’s hopes of a first win for almost three years were boosted by an opening 4-under 67 at his home club today.

Sergio Garcia’s hopes of a first win for almost three years were boosted by a four-under-par opening round of 67 at his home club in Spain today.

The 31-year-old, looking much more like his old self this season after suffering personal problems and a real slump in the quality of his golf last year, was only one behind early pace-setter Fabrizio Zanotti midway through Thursday’s second round in the Castello Masters at Castello’s Mediterraneo course.

Garcia played in the same group as defending champion Matteo Manassero and England’s first time Tour winner last week, Tom Lewis, – and it was the 18-year-old Italian who made the fastest start with four successive birdies.

Unfortunately Manassero was unable to maintain his frenetic pace and after running into a double bogey at his sixth hole where his 4-under total was suddenly cut to two under, the wind went out of his sails he was only able to finish the a 2-under 69

Lewis, who stunningly captured the Portugal Masters in only his third professional start on Sunday, played Thursday first round feeling somewhat under the weather “because of a virus and fared even worse. He had to be content with a level-par 71.

A buoyant Garcia, who was just one over at the turn, in the meantime, had caught alight coming home on the front nine to record a five-under 31 with birdies at the second, fourth, fifth, seventh and ninth holes.

That would have taken him into a share of the lead with South African George Coetzee at 4-under, but for the fact that Paraguayan Zanotti, chasing his first European Tour title, had five birdies in a row from the 11th to get across the finish line ahead of both of them and in the early clubhouse lead with a 5-under 66.

Garcia said: “It was a slow start, but the par putt on one (his 10th hole) was huge and then I got going.”

England’s Robert Coles and German Marcel Siem both reached five-under to briefly lead the field during their rounds, but Coles double-bogeyed the 14th and Siem did the same on the 15th to fall back on the leaderboard.

Colin Montgomerie, Jose Maria Olazabal and John Daly were among the later starters.