Friday, 19 March 2010
Sergio Garcia delivered another devastating reminder of his awesome talent when he charged into a two stroke lead after the first round of the Standard Life Loch Lomond.

The Spanish teenager, who recorded his maiden victory on the European Tour when he won the Murphy’s Irish Open on Sunday with a closing 64, eclipsed that effort with an opening nine under par 62.

Garcia, who has played his last five rounds in 25 under par, admitted that the mystical 59 had been on his mind at one stage as he left the world’s superstars gasping in admiration at his virtuoso feats.

That round, played in glorious, calm conditions before the heavens opened later in the day, enabled Garcia to establish a two shot lead over Jesper Parnevik, with two more Swedes in contention along with England’s Roger Winchester on 65, six under par.

On any other day, Parnevik’s 64 might have seemed like a colossal feat, given the wet condition of an already tough course, but this was another moment when ‘El Nino’ – the kid – proved he is growing up fast.

With four birdies in a row from the second and a hat-trick from the eighth, Garcia announced that his arrival in the upper echelon of golf wasn’t a one week wonder.

Now Garcia is chasing a place in the European Ryder Cup side without forcing captain Mark James into offering a wild card, while a place in the world’s top 50 after 12 weeks as a professional also beckons.

Through it all, Garcia remains contented and unaffected by his sudden stardom. He said: “I felt it (a 59) was on. I shot 30 on the front nine but I was capable of shooting 28 or 29 easily. I hit some pretty good shots on the back nine but missed a couple of good opportunities.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen next. It’s improving. I am playing better and better and I hope my confidence will keep going up.”

Colin Montgomerie had predicted that the youngster would claim his Ryder Cup berth through the qualification process, and Garcia nodded agreement.

“Well, if I win this week I will probably be in the Ryder Cup” he said. “Things have changed and I am really confident and am trying to get into the Ryder Cup team by points. I think if I keep playing like this I can do it.”

Parnevik had nine birdies and two bogeys in his 64 and turned his mind back to the moment when Tiger Woods took the game by storm a few years ago. He said: “Everybody had been looking for these young guns for such a long time and nothing really happened.

“Then Tiger came along and he just blew everybody’s mind the way he played when he turned professional. Now Sergio has the same mind set and he was going to come out and beat everyone. He is proving that he has the ability to do it.”

Winchester, who spent four difficult years playing on the Challenge Tour and failing to win back his card, admitted things are now looking up for him. In the first round someone was looking down on him as he holed a 162 yards seven iron at the 12th to kick start a superb round of 65.

That eagle two was followed by a hat-trick of birdies, a bogey and a final birdie at the 17th to lift him to six under alongside the two Swedes, Lanner and Sjoland.

Sjoland hasn’t enjoyed the best of seasons since his strong showing in the Andersen Consulting Match Play in February but he said: “It’s getting better. It has been a problem for most of the year.”

Lanner didn’t drop a shot in his 65 and complained that only his inconsistency is all holding him back.

Lurking just behind that trio on 65 is defending champion Lee Westwood, who was pleased with his ball striking in a round of 66. Westwood found no reason to complain and said: “My aim is to keep playing the way I am. I’m striking it well and if I start rolling in some more putts I should be all right.”

Colin Montgomerie was moving along sweetly on four under par but finished with a pair of bogeys and had to settle for a 69.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1LANNER, MatsSWE18-13
2ROE, MarkENG18-5
3FALDO, Sir NickENG18-4
4MARTIN, Miguel AngelESP18-1
T5SENIOR, PeterAUS18Par
T5JAMES, MarkENG18Par
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