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Garcia grabs 3-shot lead with birdie run

Akron, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - Sergio Garcia birdied the final seven holes on Friday en route to grabbing a 3-shot lead after two rounds of the WGC- Bridgestone Invitational.

Garcia, who closed his round with 11 consecutive one-putts, posted an 8-under 27 on the back nine to close out a round of 61. He completed 36 holes at 11- under-par 129. His back nine 27 was a record at Firestone Country Club, and his 61 matched Tiger Woods and Jose Maria Olazabal's course record.

Last year's U.S. Open champion Justin Rose carded a 67 and is alone in second place at minus-8. Open Championship winner Rory McIlroy posted a 6-under 64 and moved into a share of third place at 7-under 133. He was joined there by Marc Leishman (69).

Rickie Fowler (67) and Charl Schwartzel (69) share fifth place at minus-6, while Patrick Reed (68) and Keegan Bradley (67) are one back at 5-under 135.

Defending champion Woods stumbled to a 1-over 71 and fell into a share of 25th at 1-under 139.

Woods opened his round with a short birdie putt on the 10th, but followed with bogeys on 11 and 13 to slip to minus-1. He ran off six straight pars from the 14th.

The eight-time winner of this event tripped to another bogey on the second. Woods bounced back with a 19-foot birdie effort on the third. He holed a birdie putt from off the green on No. 5, but closed his round with a bogey at the ninth.

"I didn't hit the ball well, I didn't putt well and didn't do anything well. The only thing I did well out there was I fought, I fought hard," Woods said. "Unfortunately, it wasn't very good today."

Garcia played his third at the par-5 second to two feet and he kicked that in for birdie. He closed his opening nine with seven pars in a row.

Around the turn, Garcia caught fire. He poured in a 20-footer on No. 10 to move to minus-4. After a par on 11, Garcia stuffed his tee shot inside a foot at the 12th.

The Spaniard kicked that in and followed with a 3-foot birdie effort at 13. He drained an 18-footer for birdie on 14, then holed another birdie at 15.

Garcia wasn't finished. He played his third to the par-5 16th to 14 feet and rolled that in for birdie. Garcia drained a 25-footer for birdie on 17 and wrapped up his round with another birdie from just over 20 feet out.

"I've been fortunate to have some good rounds, but I think that was my lowest round in tournament play and also my lowest nine holes. So, it was very nice," said an understated Garcia. "I did get a little bit lucky on the front nine. I hit three bad tee shots and I got good breaks, and was able to save par. And that kept my round going.

"I started to hit the ball very good on the back nine. I rolled the ball nicely, so I'm thrilled with it."

Rose also played the back nine first and he opened with four pars in a row. After a bogey on 14, he birdied the 15th from five feet out. He made the turn at minus-6 after a short birdie at 18.

The Englishman drained a 12-footer on the first for birdie. Rose notched another birdie on the fifth before closing with four pars in a row.

"That was a stark contrast to my round yesterday. Yesterday, I scrambled it around and made everything. Today, I hit it much closer to the hole, gave myself plenty of looks, but didn't quite make as many," said Rose. "I began to putt much better on the back nine, I began to hit my lines. Early in the round, I just wasn't seeing the break very well."

NOTES: Garcia is playing this event for the 14th time ... He shared seventh place in 1999, but his best finish since then is a tie for 13th in 2005 ... With the threat of inclement weather, tee times for Saturday's third round were moved up to 7-9 a.m. ET.

08/01 19:41:50 ET

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