Garcia hits the front in Spain

Sergio Garcia moved one step closer to ending his victory drought at the Castello Masters on Friday.

Sergio Garcia moved one step closer to ending his victory drought at the Castello Masters on Friday.

Garcia, playing at his home club, the Club de Campo del Mediterráneo, where he has played at since he was a child, took a two-shot lead after the second round in Castellón thanks to an eight-under-par 63.

The 31-year-old hasn’t won anywhere in the world for three years, but he took a decisive step towards addressing that by firing a round that was only one shot off the lowest he has ever scored in either the US or America.

Garcia started with a birdie at the first only to bogey the long fourth, but he caught fire after that, eagling the 549-yard eighth and adding six more birdies after that.

He was in danger of dropping a shot at the 17th, but saved par with a superb bunker shot.

“Because I’m home I’ve hit that shot so many times,” Garcia told Sky Sports. “I hit it perfectly.”

Garcia is slowly finding his form this year after dropping down as low as 75th in the world rankings, having once been as high as second.

Now, he has three top 12 finishes in the last three majors, and is back in the world’s top 50.

“It’s getting there,” he said. “It’s not quite there yet – sometimes I have a little bit of a hard time hitting a draw, but when my little fade works out I can keep it in play.”

Garcia lies on 12 under par, two shots clear of Swede Alexander Noren, who is chasing his third win of the season and equalled the Spaniard’s score on the day.

Noren didn’t feel that good before the start of play, but ended up setting the early pace.

“It didn’t feel that good on the range, but I found my swing early on,” said Noren.

“I kept fading it all day and holed a lot of putts. I played probably the best I’ve ever played on the front nine – I had a lot of chances.”

Three more players lie a further two shots behind Noren on eight under – Scot Gary Orr, who shot his second consecutive 67, Australian Marcus Fraser, who added a 64 to his opening 70, and first-round leader Ross McGowan, who followed up his 64 on day one with a one-under 70 on Friday.

McGowan needs to climb into the top 115 on the Race to Dubai in order to keep his card for next year. He currently lies in 163rd place.

He at least kept himself in the picture on Friday, recovering from two bogeys early on to make birdies at the fourth, eighth and 11th.

Last week’s winner Tom Lewis, meanwhile, who won his first European Tour title in Portugal in only his third start as a professional, came in to this week’s event complaining that he was under the weather due to a virus, but soldiered on through the first round on Thursday, eventually carding a level-par 71.

He gave up the fight on Friday, however, and withdrew from the tournament.

Past and present Ryder Cup captains Colin Montgomerie and Jose Maria Olazabal finished on two over and four over respectively and both missed the halfway cut.

John Daly shot a second-round 70 to finish one over and also won’t be
around for the weekend.