Sergio Garcia hit only four of 14 fairways on Thursday yet stayed near the top of the leaderboard with a one-under-par 69 in the first round of the PGA Championship.
“I scrambled nicely,” said the 28-year-old Spaniard.
Missing fairways on the 7,395-yard Oakland Hills layout is often a recipe for disaster with the rough grown thick and its heavily sloping greens making pins a difficult target.
Garcia, starting on the back nine, balanced a birdie at the 13th with a bogey at the difficult 18th, but added a birdie at the 387-yard, par-four sixth hole to get under par.
“I putted good. I chipped good. I hit a lot of good shots into the greens and one-under-par on this course, I’m thrilled with it,” he told reporters.
The Spaniard, who often struggles with his putting, needed only 26 putts.
Garcia, who won The Players Championship this season, said he could not count on rescuing himself from trouble all week.
“Hopefully, I can go to the range and get a little bit more confidence in my driving abilities, because you have to be in the fairway on this course,” he said.
“You can’t be missing a lot of fairways and expect to do well throughout the whole week. It’s too much of a gamble.”
Garcia, who burst on the international scene aged 19 with a rousing runner-up finish in the 1999 PGA behind Tiger Woods, said he would have to use restraint this week if he wanted to notch his first victory in a major.
“You not only have to play very good, you have to play very smart.
“It is hard because we like to put aggressive swings into everything we do, but sometimes you’ve got to realise what’s right and what’s wrong, and to see the gamble is worth it.
“I guess you just learn it as you get older.”