Garcia hopes to build confidence in first US start

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PACIFIC PALISADES, United States: Spain’s Sergio Garcia hopes to build confidence in his game and start working toward the Masters as he makes his US PGA Tour 2015 debut this week at Riviera.

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The 35-year-old veteran is still looking for his first major tile after 65 tries, although he shared second in last year’s British Open — his fourth runner-up effort in a major — and is ranked seventh in the world.

But Garcia’s only win on US soil since the 2008 Players Championship was in 2012 at Greensboro, North Carolina, in the week between the PGA Championship and the start of the US PGA Tour playoffs.

“I want to try to achieve as many things as possible,” Garcia said. “Some of them I’m sure I’ll be able to and some I probably won’t. But at the end of the day, I think if I give it everything I have… I can’t really ask myself for anything else.”

Garcia was a three-time runner-up and twice finished third last season on the US tour. This year, he missed the cut at Dubai and shared 46th in defending his crown at Qatar before taking three weeks off at home.

Now he begins a three-week US run at the Northern Trust Open before returning to Europe and then coming back for the Houston Open and the Masters in April.

“Excited about it,” Garcia said. “We’ll see what we are able to do. Probably not feeling at my best level at the moment.

“The last couple of weeks, practice was OK but not amazing. Hopefully I can get some confidence as the tournaments go on and start to find my groove and my game.”

Garcia has struggled to find consistency but cannot point to a simple problem with his game.

“I guess it’s just a matter of kind of building up a little bit of confidence and kind of getting into the rhythm and start doing good things,” Garcia said.

“My long game, it has been OK, but not to the standard that I usually have it. Short game, it’s been a little bit shakier than it has been in the past three or four years.”

Garcia’s best showing in eight prior starts in the event was a share of fourth, but he likes the Riviera layout.

“I really love the golf course,” Garcia said. “When it plays firm, it’s the kind of golf course that is asking you to hit the proper shots.”

Garcia will play the first two rounds alongside two Americans, 21-year-old Justin Spieth and 55-year-old Fred Couples.

Defending champion Bubba Watson, who followed his Riviera crown last year with his second Masters title, will play in a US trio alongside Dustin Johnson, who was second by two strokes to Watson last year, and Bill Haas, who won last month’s Humana Challenge.

AFP

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