Ailing Garcia well in the mix

‘Beware the sick golfer’ goes the saying and if that rings true expect defending champion Sergio Garcia of Spain to be well placed to retain his title come Sunday.

The 2017 Masters champion was not feeling 100 per cent during his opening round on Thursday morning yet battled well to card a 69 to sit three shots adrift of clubhouse leader Hung Chien-Yao of Chinese Taipei.

Garcia was obviously not firing on all cylinders but did not play himself out of the tournament. He had matching nines, with two birdies and one bogey on each, to stay well in the hunt at Sentosa Golf Club.

He matched the score of playing partner Ryo Ishikawa of Japan, who looked imperious before coming unstuck down the stretch, and was one shot behind Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond, the other member of the featured group.

Garcia said that shooting 69 provided a bit of a fillip after a rough time.

“Well it does help a little bit,” said Garcia, who had a barnstorming end to the season with a great Ryder Cup and a victory in Spain.

“I’ve had a little bit of a sinus infection these last couple of days, and a bit of an upset stomach this morning.

“But I think I played nicely, and the highest I can shoot. Obviously there were a couple of shots here and there where I was a little bit rusty.

“But other than that I felt like I played well. I gave myself a lot of chances and hit some good putts. I didn’t really make a lot, but the greens are tricky. They’re very fast, and you have to be very aware of your speed, and unfortunately I lacked a little bit of speed in a couple of parts here and there.”

Garcia said that he was going to relax for the rest of Thursday.

“Just chill and get some food in my belly. Relax a little bit,” he said.

“Obviously days here in Singapore are long and hard with the heat and humidity, so it’s important to rest and take a nice cold shower, and just get ready for tomorrow.”

Talented Englishman Matthew Fitzpatrick was blemish free in his round of 68 and was reasonably pleased.

“It was a bit up and down. I felt like I drove it pretty well and gave myself some chances on the fairway to get close, but didn’t really take them,” said the world number 40.

“I putted pretty solid, and my short game was alright as well, so it was a good solid day all around.”

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