Sergio Garcia carded a five-under par 66 in the first round on Thursday. Photo: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

VILAMOURA – Sergio Garcia admitted he was already planning his Ryder Cup strategy for next week's showdown against the United States after carding an impressive five-under par 66 in the first round of the Portugal Masters on Thursday.

The 38-year-old Spaniard was selected as one of four captain's picks by European skipper Thomas Bjorn for the Ryder Cup at Le Golf National just outside Paris which starts on September 28.

The 2017 Masters champion will be playing in the event for the ninth time and has the all-time points record for Europe in his sights.

After finishing three shots off the lead on Thursday, Garcia was already picturing his Ryder Cup campaign.

Sergio Garcia in action during the final round of the Wyndham Championship. Photo: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters
Sergio Garcia in action during the final round of the Wyndham Championship. Photo: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

“On the last I was thinking a little bit that this could be the kind of putt that you could have next week on the 18th to maybe win or halve a match. It gave me a little bit of nice motivation,” he said after sinking a clutch putt on the last at the Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course.

“I've had three or four week breaks before so more than anything it's nice to be out here and, like I said yesterday, get the competition juices going,” he added. “Obviously I want to try to put together as many good rounds as possible but next week is different. The pressure is different, the atmosphere is different and I'm very excited for it.”

Australia's Lucas Herbert led after the first round on Thursday with an impressive eight-under 63. 

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Matt Wallace, Shane Lowry and Eddie Pepperell were a shot further back with China's Li Haotong two off the pace.

Denmark's Thorbjorn Olesen, the only other Ryder Cup player in action at the event, carded a steady 68.

Agence France-Presse (AFP)