Such criticism of a place that is revered by so many was striking, yet it fit both Garcia’s reputation — “He might have had a little bit of a temper,” Johnson said — and his mind-set here. Since he tied for fourth in 2004 — a position he attained with a no-pressure 66 on the final day – his Masters record reads thusly: cut, 46th, cut, cut, tied for 38th, tied for 45th, tied for 35th and tied for 12th. No wonder he doesn’t pen odes to the place.
“We go through moments, tough moments, and frustrated moments or frustrating moments, and I know it was one of them” Garcia said. “Obviously, maybe I didn’t say it the right way.”
He did so much right on Friday. His birdie at the first began a stretch of 10 holes that were, by his estimation, “the best 10 holes I’ve played at the Masters.” After his birdie at the 10th, he was 5 under.
“What I’m going to try to take to my pillow tonight,” Garcia said, “is the first 10 holes.”
But what happened next might have been more important — and, should he excel this weekend, more indicative of why. After a wayward drive at 11, he made a grinding par save. “I kept my composure,” he said, and instead of sliding back as he stopped hitting it as well, he remained steady.
By the end of the round, he had not a single bogey. “A nice day,” he said. It may not have clarified how this tournament will play out, with so many people providing so many possibilities. But for Garcia, at Augusta, such a simple pleasure — a nice day — is a rarity that must be treasured.