Sergio Garcia’s Open Championship got off to a slow start.
And that was just getting to the course.
Garcia was set to tee off in the first round at Royal St. George’s at 10:31 a.m. local time. He planned to get to the course at 9 a.m. Things didn’t quite work out that way.
As it turns out, Garcia wasn’t the only person trying to get to Royal St. George’s on Thursday morning. The tournament is allowing 32,000 fans in each day, and a solid number seemed to be on Garcia’s schedule. The Spaniard got stuck in standstill traffic, finally arrived to the course around 10 a.m., scrambled to warm up and then reminded us that in golf, it’s impossible to know just what matters — because he turned in a stellar round of two-under 68.
“Yeah, it was a nice round, very happy with it,” Garcia said after capping off his round with birdies at 17 and 18. “Obviously very happy with the finish. Even happier after how the morning started, where because of terrible traffic coming in, even though I left the house with plenty of time, I needed a little bit of help from a couple very nice English policemen on the bikes to get me here.”
The wisecracks among you could point out that Garcia apparently did not leave the house with plenty of time, if he needed the very nice policemen with the bikes and whatnot. But you same wisecracks may be the type to screech into the parking lot a minute before your tee times, so Garcia’s sentiment is relatable. Plus, he still ended up with plenty of time.
Garcia estimated he got to the course with about 35 or 40 minutes left before his tee time, much tighter than his preferred 90 minutes.
“We just got stuck. We couldn’t move, and thankfully [the policemen] helped us a little bit and got us here in time. I was able to do a very quick practice, very quick warmup, but it worked out okay because I played nicely.”
Garcia’s 68 left him four shots off the pace set by Louis Oosthuizen. Perhaps if he’d arrived on schedule he would have set the course record. Or perhaps he would have shot 76. Either way, he’s in good position heading to Friday.
“Yeah, I’m actually quite impressed how good the scoring has been. Obviously the course, it’s a little bit softer because of the rain that we had, but it was quite windy out there. There were a lot of tough holes,” he said. As for his position through round one?
“It’s going to make or not your week, but obviously if you start nicely, it gives you a little bit more confidence. It gives you a little — you relax a little bit more. I’m very excited about that.”
On Friday Garcia tees off at 3:32 p.m. local time. By then, rush hour should have subsided. But we’re betting he’ll leave a little extra time to get to the course regardless.