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Friday, 19 March 2010
Castello Masters - Round One  (Getty Images)
Castello Masters - Round One (Getty Images)

Defending champion Sergio Garcia took the lead on a wind-affected first day of his home CASTELLÓ MASTERS Costa Azahar.

Garcia was on the 17th hole of his eight under par 63 when 40mph gusts stopped the action for three hours at lunchtime.

And one of his main rivals is already out of the event. Because of flight problems Masters Tournament champion Angel Cabrera failed to make it from Bermuda in time, but would have been okay if only play had been suspended 15 minutes earlier.

Cabrera's playing partners Martin Kaymer and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño had just teed off, however, and that meant the Argentinian had to be disqualified.

Cabrera finished second in the 36 hole Grand Slam - the tournament for the season's four Major winners - on Tuesday, but then hit problems en route across the Atlantic to Spain.

That makes Garcia a strong favourite for what would be the first successful defence of his professional career.

Without a top three finish this year and down from second to tenth in the world, the 29 year old covered the back nine first in a six under 29.

He then holed a seven footer on the first, chipped to within three feet of the flag at the long fourth and on the resumption birdied the 553 yard eighth as well.

Garcia's only bogey came at the last and he said: "You never like to finish like that, but other than that it was pretty solid and I made some nice putts.

"We get a wind like that only three or four days a year - and usually on those days we chill at home!"

Garcia holds a one stroke lead over Swede Michael Jonzon, although half of the field failed to complete their rounds before darkness set in.

“I played nicely, I took my chances,” said Jonzon. “I've been working on that.”

José Maria Olazábal, partnering Garcia, finished strongly for a 65, the same score as Emanuele Canonica, the Italian who caddied for him at the Masters Tournament in April.

Of those still with holes to play, Australia’s Robert Allenby is best placed.

Allenby played his first 11 holes in seven under with four consecutive birdies before play was halted.

Martin Kaymer also made a successful return from the foot injury that has ruled him out in recent weeks.

The German advanced to four under with six to play and will also be amongst those who return tomorrow morning to finish their rounds.

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