Garcia blitzes to record 65

2006-07-22 19:43
<b>Sergio Garcia smiles as he walks off the 18th green after finishing the third round of the British Open. (Jon Super, AP)</b>

Sergio Garcia smiles as he walks off the 18th green after finishing the third round of the British Open. (Jon Super, AP)

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Hoylake - Sergio Garcia matched the course record of 65 but still walked off Royal Liverpool's 18th green with a sense of what might have been after he had blitzed his way to the turn in just 29 shots.

At that stage of Saturday's third round, with three par fives still to come, the Spaniard looked firmly on track to threaten the British Open's record low score of 63.

But his putter cooled off on the back nine and, although there were no bogeys to blemish an impressive card, he could manage to pick up only one more shot, a birdie on the par five 18th.

"I really had it going on the front nine, and although I played great on the back nine I just couldn't make the putts," said Garcia.

"It is not easy because the greens are becoming very brown in patches. You don't want to be leaving yourself four or five-footers."

The Spaniard has four top 10 finishes in the Open Championship. He was upbeat about his chances of claiming his first major title on Sunday.

Misses 6-foot birdie putt on 11th

"I hope I can do it," he said. "I just have to keep on playing like I have been, especially today. I feel comfortable with my swing and I've been feeling good with my putter."

Garcia started the day at five-under. He came close to dropping a shot at the first, where he had to hole a tricky 12-footer to save par.

But he ignited his challenge at the 436-yard second by holing his nine-iron second shot from 140 yards.

Another birdie followed at the long fifth and three in a row from the seventh took him to the turn in blistering fashion.

But the momentum stalled. Garcia failed to pick up a shot at the long 10th and then missed a six-foot birdie putt on the next green.

Chances went begging at the 14th, and the par five 16th after he caught his approach into the green fat and left it in the rough, short of the green.

There was no such error on the 580-yard 18th, where two textbook strokes left him on the front right edge of the green, from where he was able to leave himself a tap-in for birdie and the best round of the day.

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