Golf roundup: Garcia takes lead at Bridgestone with string of birdies
Akron, Ohio • Sergio Garcia doesn’t know anything about being in a zone.
He had no trouble identifying the best round of his career.
Garcia one-putted the final 11 holes and made birdies on his last seven holes Friday in the Bridgestone Invitational to tie the course record at Firestone with a 9-under 61 and take a three-shot lead into the weekend.
He had a birdie putt on every hole on the back nine, missing only a 15-footer at No. 11. Garcia shot 27 on the back nine, a course record.
"Just one of those moments that you love and you enjoy, and you wish there were no end," he said.
It matched the tournament record held by Tiger Woods, who shot 61 in 2000 and 2013, and Jose Maria Olazabal, who shot his 61 in 1990. Woods went on to win by 11 shots in 2000 and seven shots last year. Olazabal won by 12 in the World Series of Golf.
Garcia still has work to do.
He was at 11-under 129, three shots clear of Justin Rose, who had a 67. British Open champion Rory McIlroy birdied his last two holes for a 64 and joined Marc Leishman of Australia (67) four shots out of the lead.
McIlroy played in the group behind Garcia, and could hear what was going on if he couldn’t see it.
"Every time I looked, he was putting a ball in the hole and the crowd was cheering," McIlroy said. "I knew that he was making a few birdies."
Garcia was five shots out of the lead when he had to scramble to save pars on back-to-back holes to close out the front nine on what seemed to be an ordinary round. Two good swings on the 10th hole led to a 20-foot birdie putt. He hit 8-iron to 2 feet on No. 12 and 3 feet on No. 13 for the easiest birdies he had all day, and those turned out to be the start of his big run.
Nick Watney increased his lead to three points Friday in the Barracuda Championship, scoring eight points in the modified Stableford event in Reno, Nev., to push his two-day total to 26.
Players receive eight points for double eagle, five for eagle, two for birdie, zero for par, minus-one for bogey and minus-three for double bogey or worse.
Tuesday qualifier Marco Dawson shot a 9-under 63 on Friday to take the lead in the Champions Tour’s 3M Championship, leaving Bernhard Langer a stroke back five days after the German star’s record-breaking victory in the Senior British Open.
Tour: Johnson left voluntarily
The PGA Tour is refuting a report that Dustin Johnson has been suspended. Johnson said in a statement Thursday he was taking a leave of absence to seek professional help for “personal challenges” that brought an end to his season. Golf.com reported Friday that the tour had suspended Johnson for six months for failing a drug test.