Home favourite Sergio Garcia fired a magnificent seven-under-par 64 to seize a four-shot lead heading into the third and final round of the weather-hit Valderrama Masters on Saturday.
The tournament host had not hit a shot since Thursday after thunderstorms forced the event to be cut to 54 holes, but he carded the lowest score of the week to close on a third straight Valderrama title.
The 38-year-old former Masters champion appeared revitalised during Europe’s Ryder Cup thrashing of the United States after a poor season, and has continued that form in Andalusia.
“The only thing I could do was keep working hard, keep trying to improve and that’s what we’ve been doing and hopefully we’ll be able to play well again tomorrow (Sunday) and see if we can get another win here at Valderrama,” Garcia told europeantour.com.
Garcia hit the front early on the back nine before reeling off three successive birdies to finish the day, taking total control by reaching 10-under overall, four strokes clear of England’s Ashley Chesters in second.
The world number 31 is bidding for a 15th European Tour title and a seventh in his home country, having also won at Valderrama the last two times the event was played in 2011 and 2017.
“I saw a four or five-under (round) there if you played well, but it was one of those days where I played really well,” he added.
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) October 20, 2018
Garcia’s fellow Spaniards Alvaro Quiros and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano sit in a tie for third with Scotland’s Marc Warren on four-under.
Clara native Shane Lowry is one shot further back, tied for sixth with Lee Westwood. His was a quiet round, with 15 pars, two birdies and just the one dropped shot. Gavin Moynihan is in the middle of the pack, shooting level par to stay +2 and comfortably within the cut mark.
Padraig Harrington also made it, but only just. A +3 round of 74 saw him drop to four over and tied for 63rd, just one shot inside the dreaded cuf-off point.
© Agence France-Presse (additional edits from Chris Kelleher)