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Garcia 'needs more self-belief'

Sergio Garcia believes he needs to have more faith in his ability in order to translate his current consistency into major championship wins.

Garcia has had 12 consecutive top-20 finishes worldwide since late last season, including wins in Thailand and Qatar, and was well positioned to continue that streak after a second round of 65 in the Shell Houston Open.

The Spanish star followed his opening 67 with five birdies and an eagle in a flawless display at the Golf Club of Houston, setting the clubhouse target at 12 under par.

Asked how he could translate such form into a first major title ahead of next week's US Masters, Garcia told the Golf Channel: "I think I have to do the same things. Every week is different but I just have to try to feel the same way, try to believe in my ability the same way and hope that things happen.

"Today I was a little fortunate on a couple of holes and was able to make a couple of nice pars on 16 and 18 to keep my round going. You need those things more in majors than regular events and hopefully I will be able to do it."

Garcia started on the back nine and picked up his first shot of the day from 12 feet on the 12th before a stunning approach from 280 yards on the par-five 13th finished just five feet from the hole to set up an eagle.

A long-range birdie on the 14th helped Garcia reach the turn in 32 and he then carded a hat-trick of birdies from the third to stretch his lead to four shots over Australian Matt Jones and American pair Cameron Tringale and Shawn Stefani.

Garcia shared the first round lead in the Masters last year after an opening 66, the first time he had led a major since the 2007 Open when he was out in front for three days, but was caught on the fourth and eventually lost out in a play-off to Padraig Harrington at Carnoustie.

The 33-year-old finished second in the US PGA Championship as a 19-year-old back in 1999 and has had 16 top-10 finishes in 61 major appearances, the last of which came 12 months ago at Augusta after a second-round 76 put paid to his chances.

Masters favourite Rory McIlroy had been "really happy" with his form from tee to green during an opening 70 and got off to a flying start on Friday with birdies on the 10th and 12th and picked up another shot at the first.

However, the 24-year-old then missed from three feet for par on the third and did well to drop just one shot on the sixth, scrambling a bogey five from a greenside bunker after taking a penalty drop following a wayward tee shot.

A round of 71 left McIlroy nine shots behind Garcia on three under par, but there was much worse news for Ryder Cup team-mate Ian Poulter, who suffered an early exit from the event as he slumped to a second round of 77, five over par.

Poulter had carded an opening 70 and remained two under after covering the front nine in 36, but then took 41 shots on the back nine, including a triple-bogey seven on the 11th where he twice found the water.

Former world number ones Luke Donald and Lee Westwood were both two under after rounds of 71 and 72 respectively.