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Sergio Garcia putting with his eyes closed at Sanderson Farms

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Sergio Garcia putting with his eyes closed at Sanderson Farms

So far, so good at Sanderson Farms Championship

    Written by Cameron Morfit @CMorfitPGATOUR

    Sergio Garcia putts with his eyes closed at Sanderson Farms

    JACKSON, Miss. – The most indelible image of Sergio Garcia playing with his eyes closed was when he hit his famous shot off a tree root at the 1999 PGA Championship at Medinah.

    Until Friday, that is. That’s when the TV cameras caught Garcia putting with his eyes closed as he shot his second straight 68 to work his way into contention at 8 under par at the Sanderson Farms Championship. He took 30 putts and is in the middle of the pack in Strokes Gained: Putting, and insisted afterward that the unusual looking technique is in fact old hat.

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    “Would you believe me if I told you I've been doing it for about three years?” Garcia said.

    Well, no. But, he added, he hasn’t done it consistently. Garcia, 40, said he even putted with his eyes closed in winning the 2017 Masters Tournament, the last of his 10 PGA TOUR titles.

    “I've gone on and off,” he said, “but like Augusta, I won it playing with my eyes closed every single putt and some of the other wins, too. I feel like it gives me a little more freedom to feel the stroke instead of kind of – sometimes we get too focused on trying to make it perfect and kind of following with the eyes and everything. This way I feel like I just feel it and I just let my natural ability kind of take over instead of telling myself what to do.”

    Garcia’s natural ability has been mostly missing in action. He is coming off a season in which he recorded just one top-25 finish, a T5 at the RBC Heritage, in 12 mostly forgettable starts. It was a jarring line for a player who had never recorded fewer than four top-25s in 21 previous TOUR seasons. When he missed the Playoffs, it was for just the second time in the FedExCup era.

    He’s found something, though, on the speedy greens at the Country Club of Jackson. Garcia made five birdies against just one bogey on Friday and was two back after the morning wave.

    “You've got to go with it and trust it, believe it,” he said, “and you might have a week here and there where you don't putt as well, but I think that I'm at the point where I need to.

    “I talked to my wife, to Angela, and we talked about it,” Garcia continued, “and I have to stick to something and go with it no matter what. I'm in a stage of my career where I can't be jumping back and forth too much because then I get no rhythm whatsoever.”

    Cameron Morfit began covering the PGA TOUR with Sports Illustrated in 1997, and after a long stretch at Golf Magazine and joined PGATOUR.COM as a Staff Writer in 2016. Follow Cameron Morfit on Twitter.

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