Sergio Garcia charged into a share of the early lead in the first round of the Byron Nelson Championship on Thursday just three days after pulling out of a British Open qualifier with a finger injury.
Despite not having played the TPC Four Seasons Resort Las Colinas in practice this week, the Spaniard holed out with a sand wedge to eagle his opening hole on the way to a sparkling four-under 66.
Garcia also carded three birdies and a lone bogey at the par-four 15th in dazzling sunshine to end the round level with Americans Dustin Johnson, Jeff Quinney, Scott Piercy and Will Strickler.
“It was definitely a nice round to start the week,” Garcia said. “On Tuesday I didn’t think I had a chance of playing ... the finger was so sore.”
“But we worked on it on Tuesday, they gave me some antibiotic cream,” he said. “It definitely feels better. A little sore but definitely I can play without having to think about it, which is good.”
Garcia, who withdrew on Monday from the US qualifying tournament for this year’s British Open, surprised himself with his red-hot start to the round.
He hit a wayward drive on his opening hole, the par-four 10th, but was fortunate to end up with a good lie.
“I thought if I hit a good shot with a sand wedge I could start with a birdie and calm me down after everything that’s been going on through the week,” Garcia said. “And I hit it and I saw guys on the green saying ‘in’ and I thought: ‘Perfect!’ I couldn’t have started in a better way.”
Garcia’s playing partner Johnson matched him with an opening 66 after rebounding from an ugly par, double-bogey start with six birdies the rest of the way.
Johnson relished playing with Garcia and South Korean K.J. Choi, winner of the prestigious Players Championship two weeks ago, in the opening round.
“It was a nice day,” Johnson said. “K.J. played well for the most part, missed a few putts, hit a lot of good ones.”