Garcia ties course record 61 for WGC lead in Akron
(Reuters) - Spaniard Sergio Garcia birdied the final seven holes to match the course record and storm to a three-stroke lead after the second round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, Ohio on Friday.
The British Open runner-up put on a clinic on the greens, one-putting the final 11 holes for an astonishing nine-under-par 61 on the demanding Firestone Country Club course.
He tied the course record set by compatriot Jose Maria Olazabal in 1990, and his back nine of 27 beat the old record by two strokes.
“I think that was my lowest round in tournament play and also my lowest nine holes,” Garcia told Golf Channel after posting an 11-under-par 129 halfway total.
Englishman Justin Rose (67) was in second place on eight-under, followed by Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy (64) and Australian Marc Leishman (69) on seven-under, with defending champion Tiger Woods 10 shots adrift. Garcia birdied eight holes on the back nine, a par at the 11th the only blemish on his card.
Two of his birdies were tap-ins, another came from eight feet, while the other five were from 13 feet or longer.
“I was hitting the ball really well on the back nine,” Garcia said. “I kept giving myself chances and I rolled it very nicely, so I’m thrilled with it.”
Garcia was the ninth player ever to shoot 27 on either the front or back nine on the PGA Tour. Corey Pavin holds the record on 26, set at the 2006 Greater Milwaukee Open.
He was not so precise on the front nine, picking up only a tap-in birdie at the par-five second, and escaping trouble a few times after wayward drives. Continued...