Masters 2013: Sergio Garcia, Marc Leishman share lead after first round

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Even though Augusta National is “obviously not my favorite,” Garcia said Thursday that “every time I tee off in a tournament, my goal is to play the best I can and have a chance at winning.”

He’s playing well so far, especially on the front nine at Augusta National. He shot a 4-under 32 on that side and added another birdie on No. 10. He hit 14 of 18 greens in regulation and had 27 putts.

Before the late finish by Garcia, Leishman was the surprise leader, bringing back memories of the days when little-known players annually led the first round of the Masters. Though Leishman won at Hartford last year on the PGA Tour, he is ranked 108th in the world.

In contrast to Leishman’s low profile, Garcia is ranked 16th in the world and has 23 worldwide victories.

Leishman’s only other Masters appearance came in 2010, when he shot 72-79 because he spent too much time soaking in the tournament’s history.

“I was like a bit of a deer in headlights, I guess,” said Leishman, who has finished no better than 38th in his past seven starts on the PGA Tour this year. “I found myself looking around a little bit too much and not concentrating on getting the ball in the hole.”

“I would find myself thinking about what I’d seen on TV as a kid,” Leishman added, referencing Couples‘ “ball on the bank” on No. 12 in the 1992 and Larry Mize’s chip-in on No. 11 in the 1987 Masters.

“Just things like that, that I probably should have came here a few more times before the tournament, before my first Masters,” he said. “But I didn’t, and I found myself doing that during the tournament, which wasn’t great.”

Leishman is the latest Australian to carry that country’s hopes of producing its first Masters champion.

“It would be huge, obviously. It’s only Thursday afternoon and there is a lot of golf to play,” he said.

Leishman probably doesn’t want to know the record of first-round leaders in the Masters over the past 28 years: Only one of them, Immelman in 2008, has gone on to win.

The last Australian to lead the Masters after the first round was Greg Norman in 1996.

“If I can keep playing the way I’ve been playing, there’s no reason why not,” Leishman said about winning. “That’s the goal.”

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