x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Garcia surges to share Shanghai lead

Spain's Sergio Garcia picked up four shots over the last five holes to claim a share of the lead at the rain-disrupted HSBC Champions today.

Sergio Garcia of Spain celebrates sinking a putt on the 18th hole during the second round of the HSBC Champions golf tournament at the Sheshan International Course in Shanghai.
Sergio Garcia of Spain celebrates sinking a putt on the 18th hole during the second round of the HSBC Champions golf tournament at the Sheshan International Course in Shanghai.

SHANGHAI // Spain's Sergio Garcia picked up four shots over the last five holes to claim a share of a one-stroke second-round lead with Swede Henrik Stenson at the rain-disrupted HSBC Champions today. After Friday's washout, the skies finally cleared and offered hope that the players might still be able to play the full 72 holes, even if, as organisers have confirmed, the fourth round will have to be completed on Monday.

Garcia, who could overhaul Phil Mickelson as world number two with a win at Asia's joint richest tournament, carded a four-under 68 to go 10-under for the tournament but first round leader Stenson also birdied the last for a 69 to share the lead. "It was a good solid round but it could have been different if I had made a couple of birdies earlier on," Garcia said. "I had some birdie chances but unfortunately I didn't take it. I'm ready for tomorrow and Monday."

Defending champion Mickelson dropped a shot at the short 17th and was inches wide with a 10-foot putt at the last but remains very much in contention after a 70 left him with a share of fifth with the Briton Graeme McDowell, two shots off the pace. Australia's Geoff Ogilvy, who had the joint best round of the day with a flawless 65, and British Ryder Cup player Oliver Wilson, who shot a 68, were tied for the lead on nine under before Garcia and Stenson picked up shots at the last.

Garcia parred his way to the 14th, where his round came alive with an eagle three and he then picked up a shot at the 16th. "I stayed pretty patient, had a lot of pars and I looked like I wasn't going to birdie," Garcia added. The highlight of his round, though, came at the 18th where, with the light fading, a sublime approach shot pitched at the back of the green and the ball span back to settle two foot from the pin.

Before he could slot home the putt, though, Stenson drained a 20 footer of his own and Garcia could only claim a share of the lead. "If I can keep up the good work on the greens then hopefully I can mount a challenge for this title which would be a really great one to win," said Stenson. Ogilvy could have had a share of the lead ? and the course record ? had he nailed a three-foot birdie putt at the 16th, but the ball spun around the lip of the hole and came back.

"It felt like a long time since I had played considering we had been sitting round for a day and a half," said the 2006 US Open champion, whose tee off was delayed by three hours. "I played good." McDowell, who also shot a 65, was one of several players who made a start to their third rounds as the light faded later in the day. "I played very solidly and didn't do much wrong," said the Ulsterman. "It's good that they are going to try and get the tournament played properly."

The Champions is co-sanctioned by the European and Asian Tours, the PGA Tour of Australasia, South Africa's Sunshine Tour and the China Golf Association. *Reuters