WGC-Bridgestone Invitational: Sergio Garcia still clear but Rory McIlroy looms
Last Updated: 03/08/14 9:53am
Sergio Garcia will take a three-shot lead into the final round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Ohio.
The Spaniard, who was six clear at one point on Saturday, carded a third-round 67 to move to 14-under but two late birdies from Rory McIlroy suggests the tournament could be in for a thrilling climax on Sunday.
Third round leaderboard
(US unless stated)
-14 S Garcia (Spa)
-11 R McIlroy (NIr)
-9 M Leishman (Aus)
-8 A Scott (Aus)
-8 K Bradley
-8 J Rose (Eng)
McIlroy fired a 66 on the par 70 at Firestone to move into solo second on 11-under while it's two shots further back to Aussie Marc Leishman.
Major winners Adam Scott (65), Justin Rose (70) and Keegan Bradley (67) share fourth place on eight-under.
Tee times had been brought forward due to forecast thunderstorms, but the final group - Garcia, Rose and Leishman - had just finished the 15th hole when the threat of lightning forced players off the course for over two hours.
At that stage Garcia was five in front and in great position to claim his first World Golf Championship event and the first prize of almost £900,000.
But when play resumed it was McIlroy who came up with the big finish, holing birdie putts of 13 feet at 17 and 34 feet at the last to get within three shots.
Garcia had surged into a three-stroke lead on Friday with a sensational second round of 61, the 34-year-old equalling the course record thanks to a back nine of just 27 shots which featured eight birdies, seven of them in succession from the 12th.
Back into his stride
And he was soon back into his stride when play resumed on Saturday, picking up shots on the second, fourth and sixth to reach the turn in 32.
The 11th was the only hole Garcia failed to birdie on the back nine on Friday, but the world number five made amends with a superb approach to two feet to move to 15 under par.
That was good enough for a six-shot lead when McIlroy, who had also gone out in 32, missed from similar length on the 11th and followed that with a bogey on the 12th after failing to get up and down from a greenside bunker.
But Garcia then carded his first bogey since the 12th hole of his opening round when he pulled his approach left of the 14th green.
Rose had recovered from just his second bogey of the week on the eighth with birdies on the ninth and 10th, but then three-putted the 13th from 20 feet after playing partner Garcia avoided doing likewise from three times the distance.
And the former US Open champion then also three-putted the 14th, amazingly missing from no more than 12 inches to drop back to eight under par.
After the rain delay Garcia couldn't find a birdie on any of the final three holes and had to dig deep to par the last after a loose tee-shot.
That gave him a little more breathing space over McIlroy and hopeful of turning the tables after the Northern Irishman denied him in The Open Championship at Hoylake two weeks ago.
Defending champion Tiger Woods struggled to a 72 to lie one over par for the tournament, further reducing his slim chances of qualifying for the FedEx Cup play-offs.
The 14-time major winner needs the equivalent of third-place finishes here and in next week's US PGA Championship to move from 215th in the standings into the top 125.
Woods carded one birdie, one bogey and a double bogey on the sixth, where television commentators apologised after the 38-year-old was heard to spit out a profanity to photographers as he walked out of the rough.