Sergio Garcia spares himself embarrassment at WGC Dell Technologies Match Play | Golf | Sport


Sharma and Garcia were all-square coming down the last and in the penultimate match of 32 matches on the opening day of the $US 10m event being staged on the Austin Country Club course.

The 21-year old Sharma pulled his final drive left and with Garcia finding a greenside bunker some 50-yards short of the flag at the raised green.

Sharma, and contesting the event for a very first occasion to Garcia’s 16th appearance since 2000, found his ball some 80-yards shy of the flag and then after studying his second shot at length, played a wedge over trees that found the green but rolled-back to some 46-feet short of the flagstick.

Garcia hit a superb bunker shot to eight feet behind the flag and then after Sharma sent his third a similar distance by the hole, the Spaniard walked-up to hole his par putt and deny Sharma what would have been a remarkable draw.

And while it was Garcia who won the encounter, and his 21st victory in 37 matches in the event, Sharma found himself being congratulated by dozens of spectators as he made his way to the clubhouse.

“I played very well and I am very proud of the way I played,” said Sharma.

“Both Sergio and myself made a lot of mistakes out there but then I holed a great birdie putt there on 16 from 15-feet to match Sergio’s birdie and then a good putt for par on 17 (six feet) to save par and send the match down the last.

“It could have gone anyway at the last and I have to congratulate Sergio as he played a fantastic up-and-down for par from the bunker.

“I just feel like I made a few too many mistakes today and not enough birdies, as I do normally.

“And while I’m disappointed not to squeeze out the half point, I will go into tomorrow’s round with a lot of confidence having played alongside the Masters champion.

“I still have a lot more left in me and I am confident I can play better tomorrow, so I’ve gained a lot of confidence today.”

Garcia, who was competing in his first event since the birth of his daughter, was 2-up after just four holes but then Sharma shocked the Spaniard winning three holes in succession from the fifth to be 1-up through eight holes and then halved the ninth.

Garcia won the 11th to get back to all-square but Sharma birdied the 13th to go back to 1-up only for the World No.10 to birdie 14 and send the match back to all square.

Both played halved 15, 16 and 17 before Garcia emerged the winner and while pleased he spoke highly of Sharma.

“It was a good match and I enjoyed playing alongside Shubhankar as he’s a very good player, and certainly has some talent,” he said.

“He didn’t surprise me, and not at all, because I knew he was a good player and he has been playing some fantastic golf, and what he has been achieving has not been because of luck.

“I gifted a couple of holes to him early on and, as you do in match-play, he took full advantage while he hit a great shot on six.

“Then we came down the last and he hit a poor drive but then I found the bunker, so a win is a win and great. This one was no different. A couple of moments here and there that I would like to do a little bit better.”

Sharma now plays Tour Championship winner, Xander Schauffele who won 1-up over South African born Dylan Frittelli and needing to defeat Schauffele to have any hope of advancing the leading 16.

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