To say that Sergio Garcia has confidence issues would be an understatement.
It was just over one year ago that the PGA and European Tour veteran claimed he "wasn't good enough" to win a major championship. His feelings on the subject filtered into what he called a "hatred" for elements of Augusta National Golf Club. Garcia said he regretted making the statement earlier this week, but the underlying message was clear to all who heard it: Sergio doubts his ability as a player.
He may want to reconsider that stance.
Garcia fired an impressive 6-under 66 in his opening round of The Masters on Thursday, securing a tie for the tournament lead with Marc Leishman. It is the first time the Spaniard has led at Augusta and the first time at any major in years. It also marked only the second bogey-free round in Garcia's career in this event, which should give him reason for optimism headed into Friday's second round.
"The first 10 holes was amazing," Garcia said following his round, according to the Daily Mail. "I felt so good and hit so many great shots. Even though I was hitting four, five or six-iron into the greens, it felt like I was 10-15 feet away all the time, and it's hard to do that on this course."
Despite his first-round success, however, Garcia reminded reporters of his past criticism of the golf course.
"This is obviously not my most favorite place," Garcia admitted. "But we try to enjoy it as much as we can each time we come here. Sometimes it comes out better than others, but today it was one of those good days. And you know, let's enjoy it while it lasts."
On Friday, Garcia will look to prevent one of the tournament meltdowns that have often plagued his career. Awareness of his past failures has not lessened his resolve, however, as he was sure to remind reporters.
"Every time I tee off in a tournament my goal is to play the best I can and have a chance at winning," Garcia added. "So it doesn't change this week. Like I said, today was a nice day. It was one of those days that you really enjoy, and hopefully I'll have three more of those and we'll see what happens on Sunday night.
"The beauty and the bad thing about this game is that it can have such highs and such lows, because it's a lot more mental than some of the other games."