• Open de Espana, Round One

Returning Garcia splutters in Spain

ESPN staff
April 18, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »
Sergio Garcia made a steady but unspectacular start © Getty Images
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Open de Espana leaderboard

Race to Dubai leader - and highest-profile player in the field - Sergio Garcia failed to fire on the first day of the Open de Espana.

Garcia, returning to European Tour action after a top ten finish at last week's Masters, was making steady progress at Parador de El Saler on Thursday morning, before a double-bogey five at the par-three fourth left him to settle for a level-par round of 72.

That put him four shots off Felipe Aguilar's clubhouse lead, the Chilean carding a round of 68 to match Gary Stal and Morten Orum Madsen's similarly impressive score.

Aguilar was happy to get the chance to make hay in the morning, before the stronger winds swept in across the Valencia course later in the day.

"Four-under is a good score anywhere, so I'm quite happy with it," Aguilar said. "I played really good at the start of the season in the desert, so my card is pretty much secure. Now I'm playing for The Race to Dubai and to get up in my World Ranking points.

"The conditions are absolutely fantastic. It's a very difficult golf course if you miss the fairways off the tee; as long as you keep it on the fairway off the tee you get pretty good chances. The greens are rolling really nicely.

"Usually the wind picks up in the afternoon, so being in the top spots during the morning is pretty good. Tomorrow afternoon will be a decision day and it's going to be a little windier, so we'll see how it goes."

England's Matthew Southgate was among a group of players to sit well-placed at three-under at the end of the first round, a shot ahead of Wales' Phillip Price and former Ryder Cup player Edoardo Molinari.

The Italian certainly fared better than his brother, Francesco Molinari - who started with a triple-bogey and two bogeys in his opening five holes, drifting to six-over at one point before eventually finishing the day three-over. That was one behind his compatriot, Matteo Manassero.

Elsewhere, Paul Casey is also level-par after the first 18 holes, despite a torrid run of three bogeys in four holes around the turn.

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