Sergio Garcia blames himself, not Augusta National

For Sergio Garcia, this is progress. Rather than ripping the golf course after another disappointing loop around Augusta National, he ripped himself.

“It’s not the course,” he said Friday after shooting a two-under 70 that leaves him even par and tied for 21st. “It’s not being able to hit it where you want to hit it. If you can’t do that, it doesn’t matter where you play.”

A year ago, Garcia poured gasoline on Augusta National, telling the Golf Channel after his 38th-place finish: “I don’t like it, to tell you the truth. I don’t think it’s fair, and it’s just too tricky. Even when it’s dry, you still get mud balls in the middle of the fairway.”

Asked what he would change, Garcia said: “I don’t care. They can do whatever. It is not my problem. I just come here, play golf and go home.”

Garcia apologized two days later, saying that “playing in the Masters each year is an honor.”

Garcia looked dejected after Friday’s round, saying: “Instead of thinking about winning the tournament, I’m thinking about making the cut.”

If not for some nifty work from the bunkers Friday (four of five in sand saves), Garcia would be hitting the road. Still, at age 30, he’s poised to fall to 0 for 46 in major championships.

Made in the …

Tiger Woods has not chosen to wear shades — when not wrapping them around his baseball cap — to satisfy some endorsement deal.

“The pollen is just killing my eyes,” he said. “I’ve been sneezing and hacking all week.”

The eyes have it

ESPN’s coverage of the first round was the most-viewed golf telecast in cable history, with an average of about 4.9 million viewers. The telecast even surpassed the 2008 U.S. Open playoff, during which Woods outlasted Rocco Mediate on ESPN.

The 4.9 million viewers represent a 47% increase over last year’s comparable Thursday coverage.