Sergio Garcia (Getty Images)
Sergio Garcia made the first significant charge as the final round of The Open Championship began at Royal St George’s.
With the wind still blowing strong, scores were again high at Sandwich, but the Spaniard looked in sensational form as he played his first seven holes in four under par.
A runner-up at the recent BMW International Open after a marathon play-off with compatriot Pablo Larrazabal, the former World Number Two holed from six feet at the second, then sunk an outrageous 90 footer from off the green at the fourth – a hole which did not yield a single birdie in the third round.
The Ryder Cup star chipped to within two feet at the fifth for another gain, and almost eagled the seventh before tapping in for birdie.
Back to even par, Garcia was still five adrift of overnight leader Darren Clarke – the Northern Irishman was still to tee off as he aims for a first Claret Jug at the 20th attempt.
Clarke was partnering Dustin Johnson – the American who led two of the four Majors after 54 holes last year starting the day on four under.
First round leader Thomas Björn and 22 year old Rickie Fowler were tied third on two under.
As soon as Garcia's name appeared on the leaderboard, it disappeared again after a double bogey six on the eighth.
After twice tangling with heavy rough to the right of the fairway, Garcia's third bounded through the green and he needed three more to get down.
Meanwhile, former Ryder Cup colleague Henrik Stenson had claimed the unwanted record of highest score on a hole this week, the Swede taking 11 on the par five 14th after hitting two drives out of bounds and finding the "Suez Canal" which runs across the fairway with his sixth shot.