sport

Opening salvo delights Garcia

Sergio Garcia was overjoyed with his four-under-par 68 on the first day of the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool on Thursday.

The Spaniard made five birdies and just one bogey in Hoylake as his search for a first major continues, despite turning professional 15 years ago.

Garcia's best Open return came in 2007 when he lost a playoff to Padraig Harrington, but the 34-year-old holds happy memories of Hoylake having finished tied for fifth on the Merseyside links course in 2006.

Asked if he was in his best mental state at a major for some time, Garcia said: "I don't know, but probably since 2008.

"But even on the tough years this championship, it's different to me. I love it so much.

"After the Ryder Cup it's my favourite tournament to play. You always come with a different frame of mind here, even if you're struggling little bit.

"I enjoy the people out there. It almost kind of feels like a Ryder Cup, when people start shouting, 'Come on, lads!' and things like that. Those are things that you don't hear that often and it's good to hear this week.\"

Garcia made a flying start with three birdies from the first five holes before a bogey at the par-five 10th thwarted his progress.

Former Open and PGA Championship runner-up Garcia responded in fine fashion with a brilliant chip for a birdie three on the very next hole and the man nicknamed 'El Nino' was delighted with his opening salvo.

"It would be nice to put myself in a position to have a solid chance on Sunday, like I did a couple of times, and like I did in 2006 here,\" he added.

"I'm obviously very pleased. Every time you start a major championship and an Open with a four under, you've got to be pleased with it."