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Until Thursday, he had not led in any round of a major since the British Open at Carnoustie in 2007, when he set the pace the first three days but lost — of course — to Padraig Harrington in a playoff.
That was the latest in a series of bitter disappointments, of close-but-no-cigar calls in every major championship but the Masters, where he has only two top-10 finishes in his previous 14 appearances.
Last year, he shot himself out of contention during a dismal third round and bluntly declared he just didn’t have the game or temperament to win a major championship — certainly not at Augusta.
"Maybe I didn’t say it the right way because it was one of those frustrating moments," he conceded.
There was none of that frustration on the opening day of this Masters. The first 10 holes might’ve been as good as Garcia can play, a 5-under score he made look downright easy.
"If I manage to make a couple of putts that kind of stayed around the lip, I could have been probably 7- or 8-under par through 10," Garcia said. "It was that good."
We’ve seen this from him before, just not over all four days of a major.
That was the big question when he teed off Friday.
"Every time I tee it off, I try to play as well as I can, hope that my best that week is really, really good," he said. "My best was pretty good, and I’m looking forward to doing the same thing the next three days. It will be really nice."
Plenty of players took advantage of the gentle conditions Thursday.
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