Henny Ray Abrams/AP/Press Association Images Sergio Garcia hits his tee shot on the fifth hole of the third round of The Barclays golf tournament at Bethpage.
# In form
Resurgent Garcia seizes solo lead at The Barclays
Spaniard on the brink of back to back PGA victories.

SPAIN’S SERGIO GARCIA held his own on the demanding Bethpage Black Saturday, firing a two-under 69 to seize sole possession of the lead after three rounds of The Barclays.

Garcia, who shared the overnight lead with Nick Watney in the first event of the US PGA Tour’s playoffs, had a 54-hole total of 10-under par 203, two strokes in front of Watney.

Garcia, who has the Ryder Cup in his sights after his victory in last week’s Wyndham Championship, survived Bethpage’s fast, slick greens which caused plenty of trouble for others, including Tiger Woods.

Woods appeared to be over the sore back that bothered him on Friday, but the 14-time major champion had four three-putts in a one-over par 72.

“I hit good putts, but my speed was awful,” said Woods, who was tied for 10th at four-under par. “That was a bit of a shocker. It was slippery out there. I played a beautiful round of golf, unfortunately didn’t clean it up on the greens.

“It was unbelievable how fast it got. Some of the greens have grass, some of them are on the dirt side. They’re right at the limit. They’re slippery once you start putting.”

Garcia finished the day with five birdies and three bogeys.

“The course is extremely firm,” said Garcia, who was the only player among the last 18 on the course to shoot under 70.

“The greens, just probably some of the fastest greens I’ve ever played. Just one of those days where you knew it was going to be tough and you have to hold on very tight, and just kind of hope for the best.”

Watney’s five birdies were exactly balanced by five bogeys, the last a three-putt at 18.

“The course just kind of beat you up,” said Watney, who had some consolation after making a 35-footer for a rare birdie at the par-three 17th.

Kevin Stadler shot up the leaderboard into third place with a bogey-free six-under 65 for 206.

Stadler had the advantage of playing early, before the greens dried out.

Brandt Snedeker carded a 68 to share fourth place with Bob Estes (72) on 207.

Slugger White, the tour’s vice president of rules and competition, acknowledged that some of the greens became “crusty” in the afternoon heat, but said the course remained playable.

“The golf course is not unplayable,” he said.

“Players always want firm and fast,” he added. “It seems like when we give them firm and fast, they don’t want firm and fast.”

Watney didn’t sound convinced.

“There’s firm and fast, and then there’s this,” Watney said. “I mean, this is pretty extreme.”

- (C) AFP, 2012

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