Typically a mainstay on the leaderboard in the desert, Sergio Garcia was a notable disappointment in the opening round of the HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, carding a 4-over 76. The Spaniard also required medical attention multiple times during his round, which he later blamed on the course's ultra-penal rough.
"The problem is they have cut the rough from green to tee and the ball nestles down," Garcia told reporters after making just one birdie during his opening round. "Every single ball nestles down and you can't hit it 100 yards."
Television coverage showed Garcia clearly in discomfort, at one point lying in the fairway on his 15th hole of the day while a medic examined and stretched his left shoulder.
"I have tweaked a muscle and hitting from the rough is not helping. We will see how it feels later," said Garcia. "Unfortunately, the way the course is set up it could happen to more people."
The 34-year-old went a step further when asked if he felt the condition of the rough was dangerous, adding, "I would say so."
As he predicted, though, Garcia was not the only player to wince after digging his ball from the long stuff at Abu Dhabi Golf Club Thursday.
"I kind of hurt myself going after one," noted Phil Mickelson, who failed to make a birdie while carding a 1-over 73. "I twinged my back on the last hole. You have to be careful and maybe just wedge it out and not risk any injury."