Sergio Garcia shot one of golf’s most remarkable course records in Dubai today - two eagles, nine birdies, two bogeys and a triple bogey seven.
It all added up to a second-round 64, eight under par, at the DP World Tour Championship and from 49th place overnight he was back in contention.
The scoring was astonishing enough, but this is the 32-year-old Spaniard’s first event since the Ryder Cup in September. He underwent laser surgery afterwards to correct an astigmatic eye.
“It was unbelievable, wasn’t it? he said after moving from one over par to seven under.
That was one behind joint leaders Luke Donald, Marcus Fraser and Branden Grace, all of whom were still out on the course.
An 18-foot eagle putt from just off the back of the final green made Garcia the sixth player to hand in a 64 on the Greg Norman-designed Earth course, venue for the European Tour’s season-ending showpiece for the past four years.
“I’m still kind of getting used to it,” he said of his improved eyesight.
“My sight’s not changed immensely, but the main reason was that with contact lenses I was feeling very uncomfortable.”
He had five birdies in an outward 31, started for home with two more, bogeyed the next two, then sank a 30-foot eagle putt on the long 14th.
The tee at the 371-yard 15th had been moved up and after driving the green he sank an eight-foot second putt for birdie, but then pushed an eight-iron into the water on the next.
With three putts a triple bogey went on his card, but he hit back with a six-iron to four feet and then had his closing eagle – after his drive had headed for the stream running down the fairway, but then hit the rocks and bounced out.
Moments earlier German Marcel Siem had hit his second shot into the water by the green and by taking a bogey six had to settle for a 65.
Donald led on his own overnight and birdied the 454-yard first, but by then Australian Fraser had eagled the second and also birdied the third, ninth and 10th, while South African Grace – seeking a sixth win of the year – packed six birdies and a bogey into his first 10 holes.
World number one Rory McIlroy, one behind after his opening 66, birdied the long second to be part of a group one behind that as well as Garcia included Welshman Jamie Donaldson, England’s Danny Willett and Scot Richie Ramsay.
Playing partners Fraser and Grace were first to nine under, both grabbing birdies at the long 14th.
Donald remained eight under after five and was joined by Willett and Donaldson, while McIlroy followed his birdie at the third with a bogey on the 245-yard next after coming up short of the green.
The new clubhouse target was set at 10 under when Grace completed a 65, but he had Donaldson for company after he eagled the 14th and birdied the next.
Donald and McIlroy were one behind and had only just started the back nine. Donald birdied the ninth despite driving in the rough, while McIlroy pitched close at the 437-yard 10th.