Garcia aces his way into clubhouse lead

Fri 13 Dec 2013

Garcia aces his way into clubhouse lead

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Chonburi, December 13: Spain’s Sergio Garcia fired a magical hole-in-one en route to a sparkling seven-under-par 65 to snatch the clubhouse lead at the star-studded Thailand Golf Championship on Friday.
The 33-year-old Ryder Cup star, seeking his first win of 2013, brilliantly aced the par three eighth hole with a six iron to lead by two from first round leader Alex Cejka of Germany, who shot a 71, India’s Anirban Lahiri (64) and Frenchman Alexander Levy (65) at the Amata Spring Country Club.
Birthday boy Rickie Fowler of the United States, who turned 25 today, made it a memorable day by shooting an impressive 66 to end the second round three shots behind the fast-charging Garcia.
“Yeah, wonderful day for sure,” said the beaming Spaniard.
“I saw the ball hit right of the green and started rolling. I was calling it to go in, and thought it's probably going to end up close …. We were saying go in, go in and all of a sudden everybody goes ‘wow’ as I can’t see the hole from the tee box. It was quite nice to see it happen,” added Garcia of his third career ace shot during a tournament.
With five other birdies on a bogey-free card, Garcia, who has posted 10 top-10s around the world this year, put himself in prime position to challenge for the US$1 million Thailand Golf Championship where he finished fourth here 12 months ago.
Anirban Lahiri of India Anirban Lahiri of India
“I feel like I played well both days. I hit the ball quite nicely. I probably didn't make as many putts. Driving the ball very nicely and hitting a lot of greens and my short game has been pretty good, so overall I'm very happy with it,” said Garcia, whose girlfriend is caddying this week.
“There're still two days to go. I'm obviously going to have to keep playing well, like I've done the first two days.”
Lahiri, a three-time winner on the Asian Tour, started his round in flying fashion when he holed out a greenside bunker shot for an eagle on 11 before hitting six more birdies to stay hot on Garcia’s heels. He also credited his putter, needing only 25 putts on the Amata Spring slick greens, for his rise up the leaderboard.
“it was a great day. Holed my bunker shot on 11 and that kind of set the tone for the rest of the day, just kept it really positive,” said the 26-year-old Indian.
“I was quite disappointed after yesterday's round because I felt like I played a lot better than I scored. I haven't really had a round or a series of rounds where I've really putted brilliantly, and I think today was one of those rounds where I really felt like I could hole anything and everything.”
A return to the magnificent Amata Spring course also brings back good memories for Lahiri as he qualified for his first Major through the British Open International Final Qualifying here in early 2012.
“I really like the golf course, the layout.  It suits my style and I feel really, really comfortable.  So you know, I think it's gotten better and better” said Lahiri.
“I felt like I've been knocking on the door now for so many events, especially these last three or four months. I think I've played some of my best golf, consistency wise, but in terms of finishing off tournaments it has not been great. I've been in the top 10, top five, second place, but I haven't quite won and I think for me I'm playing well enough to win, even against a quality field like this. I think I am playing well enough to win. Even though I have played well, I have not played my ‘A’ game consistently.  If I can keep that up this week, I think that can change.”
Alex Cejka of Germany Alex Cejka of Germany
After a 64 on Thursday, Cejka settled for a 71 to stay two back of the lead. “I played good. I didn't make that many putts. That kind of sent me back a little bit. But I've been grinding,” said the US-based German.
Fowler used a four-birdie spurt on his inward nine 31 to move into title contention in his debut at the Thailand Golf Championship. “I finally got a few things going, felt a little better and hit some better putts. I just stayed patient and made the turn and started to kind of rattle off some birdies so it was nice to finish off strong and get a good round,” said the colourful American, who was feted to a birthday cake by the organisers after his round.
“I’ll probably just have dinner, nothing crazy tonight. We'll probably have some fun Sunday night before we fly out but the first and the main focus will be to play well this weekend and have a shot at winning.”
Ends.