Garcia moves into contention

2012-01-27 10:53

Abu Dhabi - Sergio Garcia's revival gathered pace on Friday as he moved firmly into contention in the second round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.

The Spaniard is back up to 17th in the world rankings after 18 months in the doldrums during which he struggled with his motivation and concentration and he is targetting a return to the top 10 in this, his season opener.

Garcia fired a hole in one, his first ever on the European Tour, on the 12th hole in Thursday's opening round en route to a comfortable 71, four off the lead.

And he was in superb form coming back out on Friday with perfect playing conditions allowing him to reach the turn in four under.

That gave him at that stage a share of the lead with joint first round leaders Rory McIlroy and Robert Karlsson not due out till the afternoon.

Garcia, who was as high as second in the world to Tiger Woods three years ago, said that his confidence has gradually been returning over the last year boosted by two tournament wins late in the year.

"I think throughout the whole of last year, we managed to do a lot of good things," he said.

"A lot of good thimgs happened to us in the majors and some tournaments here and there - obviously the BMW and Munch - and things like that and that helped me get a little bit of confidence back and then Castellon and Valderrama were a perfect way to finish the year."

But if Garcia was enjoying the warm Gulf sunshine, the same could not be said for playing partner Martin Kaymer.

The German is chasing a rare hat-trick of wins at Abu Dhabi, but his hopes looked to be vanishing fast as he took a five-over 77 in the first round.

He got to the turn in one under, but the wheels came off going down he back nine with a bogey, double-bogey slump at the second and third leaving him all but out of it at seven over.

Leading the tournament in the late morning was unheralded Norwegian Thorbjorn Olesen, who got to seven under with six birdies through 10 holes.

Masters champion Charl Schwartzel of South Africa was also on the leaderboard, level with Garcia at five under after 11 holes, thanks to a front nine of three under 33.

Tiger Woods, like most of the top players making his season debut here, was just starting his second round having fired an encouraging 70 on Friday, three off the pace but one ahead of his other playing partner, world number one Luke Donald.