Just two weeks removed from his Sunday run at the Open Championship that earned him a place as runner-up behind Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia now finds himself in the driver’s seat at the 2014 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, maintaining his dominant form at Firestone Country Club.
The Spaniard has had a remarkable run in 2014, beginning with his victory back in January at the Qatar Masters on the European Tour. In just 11 PGA Tour starts, he has nine top-25 finishes, along with four top-threes in his last six starts dating back to April. At Firestone, Garcia not only matched the course record of 61 in the second round, but also shot 59 between his back nine Friday and the front on Saturday. It’s almost a perfect mirror image of what Tiger Woods did last year.
Garcia is playing so perfectly right now, it seems like the only thing that can stop him is Mother Nature. At one point on Saturday, Garcia had built his lead to six strokes with just three holes left in his round. Unfortunately, the two-tee start that tournament directors hoped would help avoid delays from storms moving into the area weren’t enough, and when play resumed, McIlroy was able to catch up a bit with two birdies, setting up what should be another exciting matchup on Sunday afternoon.
What should be most intimidating to anybody trying to chase Sergio down on Sunday is just how well he’s working around the greens. Garcia has rarely missed a green in regulation this week, including hitting 17 of 18 on Saturday. Once he’s on, his putter – at one point the biggest flaw in his game – has been his best friend, leading to just two bogeys all week. It’s hard to beat a guy who’s making birdies all the time, and when he happens to miss, cleans up for par.
Rory McIlroy is getting a lot of well-deserved love for the state of his game right now, but for the first time in years, Sergio Garcia looks completely at ease on the course. He may not admit it publicly, but he’s got the look of a major champion. He can take a big step in that journey by holding off McIlroy on Sunday for a win.