Sergio Garcia will skip the Texas Open in the week preceding The Masters to reduce any COVID-19 risks that could force him out of the Augusta field.

The 2017 Masters winner was forced to miss last year's tournament after testing positive for the coronavirus, breaking his run of competing in 84 consecutive majors.

Now he will take every step necessary to cut out any contact that could see him ruled out of another shot at a second green jacket.

Garcia made his announcement after storming to the top of the leaderboard at The Players Championship on Thursday with a seven-under 65, on a day when Henrik Stenson shot an 85 and Rory McIlroy laboured to a 79.

Asked whether he would be cautious about his schedule leading into Masters week, Garcia said: "I'm not playing the week before

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

The WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play takes place in Austin a week before the Texas Open, and Garcia said he would "have to be careful" there.

"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. We pay the price," Garcia added.

"No one else does. So we have to be very careful as the fans come back into our game, which is great to have them, don't get me wrong."

The 2020 Masters was moved from its usual April slot to November 12-15 and was played without spectators. They will return in limited numbers this year.

Given the changed circumstances last year, Garcia was not as put out as he might have been by missing a full-blown Augusta extravaganza.

"I'm not too much of a record kind of guy, but it was nice to have that streak going," Garcia said.

"I think I was quite close to catching up with Tom Watson as second most all time. I know my friends always like to keep a record of all those stats. But to be totally honest, if I had to miss any Masters, that probably was the one.

"Obviously playing in November, the Masters is unbelievable, but it didn't have the feel that it has in April, for sure. So now we know there's a good reason why we play it in April and not in November. So that was unfortunate, but it's what it is."