Garcia aims to minimize Masters Covid risk

Miami (AFP) –


Sergio Garcia, who missed the rescheduled 2020 Masters after contracting Covid-19, won't play the week before the year's first major in April in a bid to avoid a repeat.

"I'm not playing the week before (the Masters)," Garcia said at the US PGA Tour's Players Championship in Florida on Thursday, where he held the early first-round lead.

"We have fans back, so you know that at any time you might get it from any one of them. Not that they're trying to give it to you or anything like that, but it might happen."

Garcia, who won his only major title at the 2017 Masters, withdrew from the tournament at Augusta National in November after testing positive for coronavirus on the Sunday before it teed off -- having missing the cut at the Houston Open.

So he won't be playing the Texas Open in San Antonio April 1-4 this year, the final US PGA Tour event before the Masters begins on April 8.

He said he would also be careful of contact with fans at the World Golf Championships Match Play the week before the Texas Open.

"I would love to get closer to the fans, but there's too much at risk, at stake for us and if we get Covid because of anything, we're the one that pays," he said, while adding that it was "great" to have a limited number of fans back at tournaments.

Garcia said the fact that he contracted Covid last year did not make him exempt from golf's testing protocols.

He said he was "a tiny bit" sick with the virus, but his wife, Angela, became more ill than he did.

His absence from Augusta National saw his streak of 84 consecutive major starts come to an end, and Garcia said he was looking forward to returning to a course in its full spring glory in April.

"To be totally honest, if I had to miss any Masters, that probably was the one," he said. "Obviously playing in November, the Masters is unbelievable, but it didn't have the feel that it has in April, for sure."