Sergio Garcia makes fine start in Dubai as Tyrrell Hatton fails to fire

Phil Casey, PA Golf Correspondent

Sergio Garcia made the ideal start to the Omega Dubai Desert Classic as Tyrrell Hatton came down to earth with a bump.

Garcia, who lifted the title at Emirates Golf Club in 2017, carded six birdies in a bogey-free 66 to share the clubhouse lead with South Africa’s Justin Harding, with Ryder Cup team-mate Paul Casey a shot behind.

In contrast Hatton, whose victory in Abu Dhabi on Sunday lifted him to a career-high fifth in the world, found himself near the foot of the leaderboard after struggling to an opening 76.

“I felt comfortable out there for sure,” Garcia said. “I felt like I hit a lot of good shots. Conditions obviously were good, but they were tricky.

“The greens are a little patchy when it comes down to firmness. Some spots are really firm and some spots you can definitely spin it. But other than that, I felt like it was a good, solid day, and very happy with the way it went.”

Garcia made his first cut on the European Tour at the age of 15, two years before playing partner and US PGA champion Collin Morikawa was born, but the 41-year-old added: “The desire’s still there.

“Obviously my focus, it’s a little bit different than it was with family and getting married and having kids and stuff.

“But that doesn’t mean that I’m not a competitor. I still love to compete. I love to practice, try to get better and that’s what I try to do all the time.

“So it’s nice to see rounds like one today, because it shows that I’m putting some good work in there and just got to keep doing more of that.”

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