VALENCIA // Sergio Garcia surged in front of the field to take a four-shot lead into today's final day of the Castellon Masters, the tournament he is hosting on the course he played as a boy. The Spaniard was in sparkling form again yesterday at the Club de Campo Mediterraneo, where his father Victor is still the professional, firing a five-under-par 66 in the third round following scores of 66 and 65 to put him on 16 under overall -- a substantial advantage over Englishmen David Lynn and Simon Dyson and Swede Peter Hedblom, who all shot 68 to join Denmark's Soren Kjeldsen (70) at 12 under.
Richard Finch briefly threatened to overthrow Garcia, but the Yorkshireman fell apart on the back nine and had to settle for a level-par 71. Garcia birdied the second with a long putt and that seemed to set the tone for the rest of the front nine as he picked up shots on four consecutive holes to take the turn at five under for the day. One of those birdies came when he holed a tricky bunker shot at the eighth, typifying his superb touch around the greens, and his putting was equally impressive.
He wobbled slightly after the turn, hitting a wedge out the back of the 10th green and then blasting his tee shot way left on 11 as he attempted to drive the length of the par-four hole. He missed a five-foot putt for birdie at the par-three 12th, although Finch, at the time level on 14 under, was even more wasteful, missing his second putt from inside a metre. Garcia birdied 13 and 14, leaving Finch trailing in his wake, and he improved to 17 under with another birdie at the par-three 16th, having only just cleared the lake from the tee. He bogeyed 17 but parred the last to complete another impressive score.
Alvaro Quiros, who won the Portugal Masters last week, started the day just two shots off the leaders but endured a torrid round, signing for a 76 to fall way back on four under. Sam Little strengthened his chances of retaining his European Tour card with a flawless five-under par 66 to leave him six under, while Scotsman Stephen Gallacher had the round of the day - a six-under-par propelling him up to 11 under.
* PA Sport