It was a case of ’Home Sweet Home’ today as Sergio Garcia took a giant stride towards his first victory for almost three years.
Competing on the Mediterraneo course in Castellon he has known since he was a child, the 31-year-old Spaniard fired an eight-under-par 63 to charge into the lead at the Castello Masters.
It was only a stroke off his lowest round in either Europe or America and took him to 12 under par at halfway – two ahead of Swede Alex Noren, who was also round in 63 as he seeks a third win of the season.
Ireland's Damien McGrane is nine shots off the lead having picked up one shot today to move to three under for the tournament.
Club champion when he was only 12, Garcia was six behind Noren when he teed off again and went into overdrive after taking six on the long fourth.
He eagled the 549-yard eighth and added six birdies to his opening one before saving par with a marvellous bunker shot at the difficult 17th.
“Because I’m home I’ve hit that shot so many times,” Garcia told Sky Sports. “I hit it perfectly.”
After falling from second in the world to outside the top 75, he is now back to 49th with top 12 finishes in the last three majors.
“It’s getting there,” he added. “It’s not quite there yet – sometimes I have a little bit of a hard time hitting a draw, but when my little fade works out I can keep it in play.”
Noren won the Wales Open in June and then a month later took his home Scandinavian Masters by seven – despite a closing 77.
With overnight leader Ross McGowan following up his 64 with a 70, the 29-year-old set the early pace with eight birdies, something he did not expect before he teed off.
“It didn’t feel that good on the range,” Noren said. “But I found my swing and holed a lot of putts.
“I played probably the best I’ve ever played on the front nine.”