By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 17/08/18 12:42am
Sergio Garcia was relaxed about his chances of qualifying for the FedExCup Play-Offs after opening with an encouraging four-under 66 at the Wyndham Championship.
Garcia needs at least a top-20 finish at Sedgefield Country Club to avoid missing out on the first event of the Play-Offs for the first time since the new end-of-season series was launched in 2007, but his first-round score left him seven shots adrift of Brandt Snedeker after the American became the ninth player in history to break 60.
Snedeker had begun his tournament with a snap-hook off the 10th tee which led to a bogey, but he was soon celebrating his place in the PGA Tour record books when he holed from 20 feet for his 10th birdie of the day on his final hole to card a sensational 59.
His round, which also included a slam-dunk hole-out for eagle at the par-four sixth, hoisted him four shots clear of closest challengers Ryan Moore and John Oda on a day in which 95 of the 156-man field managed to return sub-70 scores.
But with several players scrambling hard to extend their season, and retain their PGA Tour cards, Garcia insisted that not making the 125-player line-up for next week’s Northern Trust in New Jersey would not be a devastating scenario.
The Spaniard is playing for the fifth consecutive week and admitted he was hoping to build some confidence after a difficult summer, missing the cut in all four majors and leaving him struggling to earn a place in the European Ryder Cup team next month.
Garcia made five birdies on day one, including two from 50 feet at the first and seventh holes, although he conceded he should have got more out of his round in the perfect scoring conditions in North Carolina.
“I drove the ball pretty well for the most part, but I did not convert as many chances as I should have done,” he said afterwards. “I holed some big putts on the front nine, but it was just an ‘okay’ round really.
“If I qualify for next week, that would be great. But if I don’t qualify, that would also be great as it would give me a chance to rest. This is my fifth week in a row, which is probably two too many, and I don’t know how my head will be if I make it six in a row next week.
“At the end of the day, all I can do is play and do the best I can, and try to get a bit of confidence. Let’s see if I can have a decent week, but if I miss the Play-Offs I can relax.”
PGA Tour 59 club
After Brandt Snedeker opened the Wyndham Championship with a stunning 59, we look at the nine players to have broken 60 for 18 holes on the PGA Tour
Garcia’s compatriot Rafa Cabrera Bello, who is on the fringes of Ryder Cup qualification, opened with a solid 68, while Shane Lowry fired a disappointing 69 and now faces a tough task to earn the top-10 finish he needs to keep his PGA Tour card.
Defending champion Henrik Stenson was struggling on one over for the day with just four holes remaining, but the Swede birdied 15, 17 and 18 to salvage a two-under round and give him momentum to carry into Friday.
Live PGA Tour Golf
August 17, 2018, 8:00pm