There was nothing in Sergio Garcia’s front-nine score at The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational that would indicate a putting clinic was about to erupt on the back nine at the Firestone Country Club on Friday afternoon, but it did. Shame on the 34 year-old Spaniard for missing his put at 11, the only hole he didn’t birdie on the back nine.
Sergio made short putts, Sergio made medium range putts, and Sergio rolled them in from Toledo. Sergio’s 61 on the South Course tied the course record 61 set by Tiger Woods, and fellow countryman, Jose Maria Olazabal. The 27 he carded on the back nine was a record for the low 18-hole score.
So to tally up the numbers, Garcia made seven consecutive birdies, and 11 consecutive one-putts. He went bogey-free with only one birdie on the frond nine at the reachable par-five second hole.
“I could see what I wanted to do pretty much almost every shot” Garcia said. “And there I could see the lines in the putts quite well.
“You make them once in a while, but you don’t make them that often. The one on 17, it felt so smooth when I hit it, I could see 2 or 3 feet short of the hole. I could see it going in. And then the one on 18, more of the same. I felt very comfortable.”
Garcia’s eleven under par total for the week was good for a three-shot lead over 2013 US Open Champ, Justin Rose who will undoubtedly be his playing partner when they tee it up on Saturday. Officials at the Akron Ohio tournament are expected to start early on Saturday because of weather moving into the area.
Lurking only four shots back are 2014 Open Champ, Rory McIlroy, and Aussie, Marc Leishman. McIlroy couldn’t find the success Garcia had during the round, but responded with some birdies of his own down the stretch at 14, 17 and 18.
McIlroy was fearless with the driver on the tour’s narrowest fairways, and continued to show it off on the back nine. He was first in driving distance at 349.2 yards, and T14 in driving accuracy at 61.71% on Friday. His two-day average for distance was 339.2 yards.
If memory serves me, Sergio Garcia struggled with his putter from 2008 until he won The Wyndham Championship in the fall of 2012 after he had switched to a scissor grip. He has been very competitive over the past couple of years, and I picked him, along with Marc Leishman, and Rory McIlroy to win this week in my Fantasy Picks.
It’s been a good week!