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Dublin: 0 °C Tuesday 16 January, 2018
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Garcia eyeing back-to-back European Tour titles

He might still be sporting a slightly rickety-looking putting stroke, but the Spaniard has pulled two shots clear of the field at the Andalucía Masters.

Image: Michael Dwyer/AP/Press Association Images

AS IMPRESSIVE AS it was, Sergio Garcia’s eleven-shot victory at last week’s Castello Masters didn’t come without an enormous, course-shaped caveat.

The tournament was held at Garcia’s golfing home of Club de Campo de Meditteraneo, the layout on which the Spaniard honed his world-beating game as a teenager.

Its claustrophobic mass of rolling fairways and small, undulating putting surfaces exaggerated the influence of Garcia’s ball-striking and rendered local knowledge invaluable.

If last week marked a first, tentative step on the road to rehabilitation, then, a victory for the Spaniard at this week’s Andalucía Masters would offer more convincing evidence of a return to form.

And, with only one round left to play, it’s Garcia who holds a two-shot advantage over the chasing pack.

The 31-year-old didn’t hesitate in taking advantage of a respite from the blustery conditions that rendered the first 36 holes a dour and attritional afffair, covering Valderrama’s eighteen holes in an impressive 67 shots, enough for an aggregate total of six-under-par for the tournament.

Hot on his heels is Sweden’s Christian Nilsson, who carded a remarkable six-under-par 65 in Saturday’s third round, and European Tour veteran Miguel Angel Jimenez.

Former US Amateur champion Richie Ramsay, who held the overnight lead, lies a shot further adrift after recording a disappointing 73.

Ireland’s Shane Lowry lies in a tie for sixth place on one-over-par.

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