Ole conquistador: Garcia shoots back into contention

How do you lay a Tiger trap? Steer clear of the leaderboard until the action hots up at the weekend and then point the Purdey at the links and give the course both barrels. When the third round started you needed binoculars to spot Sergio Garcia in the bigger picture, but yesterday morning he came out with all guns blazing. Well, at least on the front nine.

The Spaniard shook hands with his old Ryder Cup foe Jim Furyk on the first tee and the pair set about shooting up the field. Resuming yesterday morning at five under par, the Spanish-American pairing profited from each other's form. Want to play Royal Liverpool under par? Give the golf consultancy of Garcia & Furyk a ring.

They began conservatively enough, but then got down to business. At the second hole, a par-four of 436 yards, Garcia produced a stroke of magic that was straight out of Tiger Woods's bag. With about 170 yards to the flag, Garcia went at it with a nine-iron, and lo and behold the ball disappeared into the hole.

When the roar of the crowd hit him, Garcia stood in the middle of the fairway, arms aloft. He could have been a conquistador, or even a matador.

With one inspired swing, he advanced from five under for the championship to seven under, and it was like a red rag to a bull. Garcia - unfortunately his Saturday outfit from head to toe was turquoise - had the scent of blood in his nostrils. And the front nine holes at Hoylake are among his favourites.

He prospered going out on the front nine in the second round on Friday and yesterday he did what the Health and Safety Executive have advised everybody not to do - he burnt up the course. Garcia went to the turn in 29, a stroke outside the Open record set by the Englishman Denis Durnian at Royal Birkdale in 1983. Durnian, a former merchant seaman, used to practice by hitting balls off the decks of vessels into whatever ocean he was negotiating.

Garcia might have hit a few into the Mediterranean, but his upbringing was somewhat different to Durnian's. His father, Victor, was the professional at the Mediterraneo Club de Golf in Borriol, where Junior became club champion at the age of 12. El Niño, who had a brilliant amateur career, was identified at a very early age as the natural successor to Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal.

Well, the boy wonder - actually he is now 26 - has come close, but there has been no Havana. At Royal Lytham in 2001 he was joint ninth; at Muirfield the following year he was tied eighth; at Royal St George's in 2003 he was joint 10th; and at St Andrews 12 months ago - where, of course, Woods reclaimed the old silver Claret Jug, he was joint fifth, having entered the final round as a genuine contender. On the Sunday he had a desperately disappointing finish with a 73.

Not for the first time Garcia came up short. Maybe, just maybe, he will give Woods a run for his money today.

"I really had it going," Garcia said. "I gave myself a lot of birdie chances and I would love to have made a couple more putts. I did what I had to do and I've been getting better and better every day."

If that is truly the case, then the climax today could be truly memorable.

When Garcia said he had it going he was not exaggerating. After the waving of the magic wand at the second he conjured four birdies, so by the time he walked off the ninth he had got to 11 under for the tournament and would have been breathing down Woods's neck but for the fact that the American had teed off an hour or so later than the Spaniard.

Garcia's 65, following rounds of 68 and 71, did not contain a single blot, and although the back nine was considerably tougher than the front he finished in style with a birdie four at the 18th: drive, five-iron, two putts from 35 feet and a terrific reception from the hugely impressive audience on the Wirral.

Furyk was not far behind, coming home with a 66, and at 11 under he too is in the thick of the Tiger hunt.

The greens, Garcia said, are getting brown and slick, scorched by the heatwave, but he seems to have their measure. And he seems to have the front nine in his pocket.

"On the second I had 167 yards to the hole and the wind was just off to the left. I cut a nice nine-iron and it looked really good. It's always nice when you see it go in like that."

Almost certainly Woods would have seen it, and the world No 1, who has been ultra-cautious around here, leaving the driver in the bag, knows that there is a gauntlet lying on the tanned fairways of Royal Liverpool. Today he will see it at first hand, for Tiger and Sergio will go mano-a-mano.

Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Arts and Entertainment
James Hewitt has firmly denied being Harry’s father
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies looks set to be a dramatic conclusion to Peter Jackson's trilogy
film
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvReview: Top Gear team flee Patagonia as Christmas special reaches its climax in the style of Butch and Sundance
News
people
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
News
news
News
Sir James Dyson: 'Students must be inspired to take up the challenge of engineering'
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Catherine (Sarah Lancashire) in Happy Valley ((C) Red Productions/Ben Blackall)
TV
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?