JERSEY CITY, N.J. — Seven days ago, Sergio Garcia wasn’t even sure if he would be eligible to play in The Barclays for the start of the PGA Tour Playoffs for the FedEx Cup.
Suddenly, he has a splendid view from the top.
Garcia took another important step toward recovering from a troublesome season Thursday with a 6-under 65 at Liberty National for a share of the lead with Paul Goydos and Steve Marino.
“We are getting back into it,” Garcia said. “Last week was nice. It was good to see ourselves ... getting that feeling of being out there trying to win a tournament and getting the juices flowing a little bit. We’re just looking forward to hopefully finishing the year well here, keep this good momentum going.”
At a different venue — Liberty National — Garcia stayed the course. He is a two-time winner of this tournament, both times at tree-lined Westchester. On a track with intimidating views inside the ropes and gorgeous vistas of Manhattan, he wound up in a familiar spot.
In some respects, so did Tiger Woods.
The Barclays is the only tournament Woods has played at least three times without ever finishing in the top 10. He shot a 70.
Most players would have taken such a score when they first saw Liberty National. The course played significantly shorter, however, with five tees moved forward, and it showed in the scoring.
Nearly half the field was at par or better, and some two dozen players shot in the 60s.
Goydos ran off five birdies in a six-hole stretch starting with the 16th hole, which he attributed to great putting, solid wedge play, and the PGA Tour rules staff for being gentle with hole locations and some forward tees.
“In theory, you have 125 of the best players on the PGA Tour here this week, someone is going to shoot a low round every day,” Goydos said. “Today was my chance.”
Marino seized on his opportunity, too, getting to 7 under until a bogey on his last hole.
They were one shot ahead of a group that included Charley Hoffman, who stumbled in by missing a 4-foot birdie putt on No. 8 and having to save bogey with an 8-foot putt on his final hole.
Y.E. Yang, in his first tournament since taking down Woods in the final round to win the PGA Championship, had a 71.
Woods looked solid in his return to The Barclays for the first time in six years, until he lost some control toward the end. Poor tee shots took away easy birdie chances on a pair of par 5s late in his round, and another one led to his lone bogey at No. 8.
Woods declined interview requests, telling PGA Tour officials he was going to the chipping area.
“You’ve got to make hay on the par 5s here,” Woods said in a brief interview with XM Radio. “You don’t get too many opportunities around this place, and I only made one birdie on the par 5s.”
He probably would have taken a 70 after his first time around Liberty National, a course that has received scant praise from the players this week. The best anyone has said about the course designed by Tom Kite and Bob Cupp is that it is hard.
“It’s a long, hard golf course with difficult greens,” Goydos said. “I don’t think Tom Kite was thinking, ‘Let’s see how easy I can make this course.’ I don’t think that was his mindset.”’