Garcia excited by ball-striking test

21 February 2018 05:14:25 EST

Sergio Garcia will make his first appearance of the 2018 PGA Tour season in the Honda Classic at PGA National, hoping to build on his second-placed finish two years ago.

The Spaniard enjoyed a wonderful 2017 which saw him win his first Major championship (the Masters) and marry long-term girlfriend Angela.

Over the winter he learned that they are due to have a daughter and he also changed equipment, life changes which prompted a slow start to the season.

"I'm here a little bit later than usual," he said. "But really looking forward to it. I had good start in Singapore (where he won) and Dubai.

"So really excited. It's a big week, a tournament that I've always enjoyed playing, a great golf course, a ball-striker's kind of golf course which I've always enjoyed."

Garcia admitted that in the immediate aftermath of his victory at Augusta National he struggled to maintain form.

"I wanted to do well again so badly," he said. "That that's why my game would be very good for a couple of rounds, and then a couple of rounds would be not quite as good. It was extra pressure.

"I didn't want to be like, now that we've won the Masters, you can relax and start missing cuts and finishing 60th every week and things like that.

"Then I started to relax and say, you know, just keep doing what you're doing, you're playing well, you're playing great, just trust it and keep at it. That's when things started coming along a little bit easier and I had a great finish to the year."

The 38-year-old has claimed four top 20 finishes in his seven visits to PGA National and he has twice made fast starts. In 2009 he was T2nd after 18 holes following a 3-under-par 67, in 2016 he shared top spot on Thursday evening following a 65.

Garcia is 18/1 to win the tournament outright and 25/1 to be the first-round leader, while he can be backed at 15/8 to end the week as the Top Continental European.

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