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The Players Championship

McIlroy fails to fire as Sergio, Tiger take control at the Players

Garcia leads the way on 11-under par but world number one Tiger Woods is only a shot back at the TPC Sawgrass.

SERGIO GARCIA SHOT a seven-under-par 65 to seize the lead at the Players Championship, with world number one Tiger Woods in hot pursuit.

But world number two Rory McIlroy has it all to do heading into the weekend after a level-par second round which left him five shots adrift at TPC Sawgrass.

Garcia’s eight birdies included five in a row in his storming second nine.

His score of 11-under put him one stroke in front of Woods, who had five birdies and an eagle in his five-under-par 67.

“Wonderful day today,” said Garcia, who teed off on the Stadum Course’s 10th hole and began to warm up with birdies at 16 and 18.

He responded to a bogey at the par-four first with five straight birdies starting at the par-five second, then added one more at the par-three eighth.

“Yesterday I scored very well,” said the Spaniard, who won here in 2008. “I didn’t play that great. But today I played much nicer.

“Couple of tee shots here and there that I would have loved to hit a little better, but other than that, it was nice. I hit the ball very well, hit a lot of good iron shots and gave myself a lot of good birdie opportunities.”

Woods pronounced himself “pleased with every facet” of his game.

“I feel like I’m driving it well, hitting it well with my irons, my distance control is good, short game is really solid, and I’m making my share of putts,” said Woods, already a three-time winner on the US PGA Tour this year.

Woods, making his first start since the Masters, has only one top-10 finish in the Players since he won the US PGA Tour’s flagship event in 2001.

“I know how to get around this golf course,” he said. “You have to drive the ball well. You have to hit your irons in the correct spots, and if you don’t hit your irons in the correct spots, you’re going to have some really funky up and downs.”

England’s Lee Westwood had four birdies and an eagle in a six-under 64 that put him tied for third with Sweden’s Henrik Stenson and American Kevin Chappell.

McIlroy couldn’t build much on a first-round 76, posting three birdies and three bogeys in an even-par 72 that left him five shots adrift.

© AFP, 2013

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