sport

Sensational Sergio shoots 61

Sergio Garcia reeled off eight birdies on the back nine to card a sensational 61 and take a three-shot lead at the halfway mark of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

The Spaniard looked set to be in the chasing pack when he arrived on the 10th tee at three-under par but went on an incredible run to chase down and surge past clubhouse leader Justin Rose.

Garcia started with a birdie at the 10th, made par at 11 and then, helped by a red-hot putter, racked up seven birdies on the bounce to move to 11-under.

He iced the cake by holing from 22 feet at the last and that meant he came home in just 27 at the par 70 Firestone course in Ohio.

Ryder Cup teammate Rose recorded a 67 in the morning to post eight-under and that was one in front of Rory McIlroy and first-round leader Marc Leishman, who followed his opening 64 with a 69

McIlroy made a sparkling start with three straight birdies and eventually carded an excellent 64 to climb to seven-under but the day belonged to the amazing Garcia.

The lowest score of the Spaniard's career equalled the course record set by Tiger Woods in 2000 and matched in the second round last year by the former world number one, who went on to win the event for the eighth time.

Garcia has yet to win a World Golf Championship event but is now in pole position to do so and put another near-miss in a major championship behind him in the perfect fashion.

The 34-year-old pushed McIlroy all the way before finishing second to the Northern Irishman in the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool a fortnight ago, his 19th top-10 finish in 64 majors.

"I've been fortunate to have some good rounds but I think that was my lowest round in tournament play and also my lowest nine holes so it was very nice," Garcia said.

"I did get a little bit lucky on the front nine, I hit bad tee shots on four, eight and nine and got good breaks and was able to save par and that kept my round going.

"And then I started hitting the ball really well on the back nine, I hit two very close on 12 and 13 and kept giving myself chances and rolled it very nicely so I'm thrilled with it."

Woods' attempt to win the event for a ninth time is looking remote after a one-over 71 left him at one-under for the tournament - 10 shots behind Garcia.