Sergio Garcia was already feeling the Ryder Cup vibes as he carded a 66 on day one of the Portugal Masters at Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course.
The Spaniard will head to Le Golf National next week for his ninth appearance as a playing member of Team Europe with the all-time points record for the home side in his sights.
He spoke ahead of teeing off in Vilamoura of how he wanted to get the competitive juices flowing again after a short break and he showed no signs of rust in getting to five under.
Garcia birdied the tenth, 12th, 14th and second to edge his way up the leaderboard but three-putted from the fringe on the third. Back-to-back birdies on the fifth and sixth were followed by a bogey on the seventh but a stunning tee-shot on the par three eighth had him back at five under.
He then needed a clutch putt on the last to keep him at that mark and he admitted he took his motivation from the upcoming biennial spectacular.
‘I’ve had three or four week breaks before so more than anything it’s nice to be out here and, like I said yesterday, get the competition juices going,’ he said.
‘Obviously I want to try to put together as many good rounds as possible but next week is different. The pressure is different, the atmosphere is different and I’m very excited for it.
‘On the last I was thinking a little bit that this could be the kind of putt that you could have next week on the 18th to maybe win or half a match. It gave me a little bit of nice motivation.”
He added: ‘I would have loved it to be a little better. I played well, I didn’t play extraordinarily. I still feel like I left easily three or four shots out there, a couple of easy birdie putts here and there. I think that it was nice to play at a good level after a little break and have a nice round.
‘On this course, if you drive the ball well it’s scoreable but if you don’t then it’s very tricky from the rough, so it was nice to do well here.’
Credit: European Tour