Sergio Garcia revels in the rain at Andalucia

Tournament host Sergio Garcia made an excellent start to his bid for a third-straight victory in the weather-affected Andalucia Masters.

Sergio Garcia revels in the rain at Andalucia

By Phil Casey

Tournament host Sergio Garcia made an excellent start to his bid for a third-straight victory in the weather-affected Andalucia Masters.

Garcia has finished outside the top 10 just once in 13 previous appearances at Valderrama and an opening 68 left him two shots off the lead held by Ashley Chesters.

A thunderstorm delayed the start of play by two hours and another in early afternoon led to a further suspension of play which meant half the 126-strong field did not complete their rounds.

“It was nice,” Garcia said after his first round since becoming the top points scorer in Ryder Cup history in Europe’s victory at Le Golf National in Paris.

“Obviously I didn’t feel as smooth when I came back from the break. I hit a great shot on six, unfortunately missed that birdie putt and then hit a couple of loose shots, but any time you shoot under par on this course, it doesn’t matter the conditions, I’m obviously happy about it.

“I saw a lot of great things, a couple of things that we need to improve but overall it was a good day.

To be here at my favourite golf course to play, where I’m a member from last year onwards, it’s great fun, and hopefully we’ll get a little bit lucky. It doesn’t look like the weather is going to be very helpful.

Chesters carded six birdies and a solitary bogey in a five-under-par 66 which gave him a one-shot lead over France’s Gregory Bourdy, with Australia’s Jason Scrivener alongside Garcia on three under.

“Considering all the delays and everything, I’m happy with that and the last few holes are probably the best I played all day,” Chesters said after birdies on 17 and 18.

“It’s not a long-hitters course so it does suit me because you just need to get it in position off the tee. The forecast for the rest of the week isn’t good either so I was just thinking to myself, ‘nobody knows how many holes we’re going to get played’, so I was just trying to make as many birdies as I can and get in.”

Bourdy needs to finish joint second or better to retain his European Tour card after failing to record a top-30 finish all season. The 36-year-old is 179th on the money list, with the top 116 at the end of the week securing full playing privileges for next season.

Shane Lowry is just three shots off the lead after firing five birdies and thre bogeys in his round of 69. Pádraig Harrington and Gavin Moynihan both fired level par 71s.

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