An even-par round of 71 may not have initially seemed too impressive for Sergio Garcia Friday, but with the breeze kicking up and more difficult pin placements, it was good enough to maintain a two-stroke lead in the British Open.
For Garcia, it's uncharted territory. However, he's obviously enjoying his position atop the leaderboard in the year's third major.
"I guess it's a matter of waiting and seeing what happens, but I'd rather be leading than being eight shots back, that's for sure," Garcia told reporters. "You don't feel like you have to push your game to the limit all the time, so I'm pretty happy with the way I'm standing right now."
Garcia, who shot a 6-under-par 65 to lead by two after the first round, enters the weekend in prime position to capture his first major championship. He leads K.J. Choi by two shots and is three ahead of Miguel Angel Jimenez and Mike Weir, who posted the best round of the day with a 3-under 68.
"I wanted to give myself a chance," Weir told reporters. "We have two more days. It's a long way to go. It hasn't even begun yet, but I didn't do anything crazy to get myself out of it.
"I put myself in position and now we've got to go to work (Saturday) and hopefully be right there for Sunday's round."
Jim Furyk recorded his second consecutive round of 1-under 70 and is tied for fifth at 2 under with Boo Weekley. Two-time defending champion Tiger Woods hooked his opening tee shot out of bounds on the way to a double bogey and wound up shooting a 3-over 74, entering the weekend tied for 20th at 1-over 143.
Like many players, Garcia found the going a bit rougher in round two at Carnoustie Golf Club. The 27-year-old Spaniard used birdies on the two par-5 holes (No. 6 and No. 14) to offset bogeys at No. 4 and No. 11 as the new belly putter that powered his opening round wasn't quite as sharp.
"I was hoping for a little better than what I did, but that was not a bad round," Garcia said. "Every time you shoot an under-par or even-par round on a difficult course, you know you're not too far away.
"I'm not going to lie. I was a little bit nervous at the beginning because you want to do well like I had yesterday."
Choi boosted himself in position to play in the final group with Garcia with a 2-under 69 to reach 4 under for the tournament. He made back-to-back birdies on holes 14 and 15, but gave a shot back with a bogey at No. 18.
With PGA Tour wins this year in the Memorial and the AT&T Classic, Choi thrust himself into the conversation of the best players never to win a major. Despite his standing, Choi said he isn't putting any extra pressure on himself. He contends that all he wants to do is make sure he's prepared to perform at his top level.
"If you're not prepared to do it mentally or physically or technically in your golf game, then you're not going to be able to win it," Choi said. "I think it's very important that you prepare yourself in situations like this when you're in a position to win a major."
Garcia said he has a pat response when he's confronted with questions about not having won a major.
"I'm not bothered. I don't really care," Garcia said. "I'm trying, I can tell you that. I'm trying to win. I'm trying to win as many majors as I can. I'm trying to give myself good options and good looks at winning majors. That's all I can do."
July 20, 2007
With stellar play on the back nine at Royal Birkdale, Padraig Harrington shot a 69 in the final round to earn a four-shot victory and become Europe's first back-to-back British Open champion in more than a century. He earned nearly $1.5 million and climbed to No. 3 in the world rankings. "I'm really thrilled with the way I felt today on the golf course," Harrington said. "I hit the ball as pure as I could and just felt really good."
... full article »