Ramsay preserves two-shot lead at Valderrama, Garcia now three back

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With straight rounds of 70, Sergio Garcia enters the weekend with a good chance at a second straight victory.
By
PA Sport and Associated Press

Series: European Tour

Scotland’s Richie Ramsay shot a 1-over 72 Friday to preserve his two stroke lead after the second round of the Andalucia Masters on the European Tour.

Ramsay reached par after a birdie at No. 11 before a wayward drive led to a bogey at the 18th to drop him to a 5-under overall total of 137.

France’s Gregory Havret had a mixed day but his 71 left him in second ahead of Sergio Garcia, who carded a second straight 70 to sit three strokes behind in third.

Fellow Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez finished the back nine in 4-under for a 70 that left him the only other player to go around Valderrama under par after two rounds at 1 under.

Defending champion Graeme McDowell shot a second straight 73 to go to 4 over.

Having started with a brilliant 65, Ramsay dug deep in his two-birdie, three-bogey 72 to preserve his advantage. Driving into the rough cost Ramsay a shot on the 454-yard 18th, but Havret -- runner-up to McDowell in last year's U.S. Open -- bogeyed the hole too.

"Going up against one of your idols on a course, this is a dream situation," Ramsay said. "It was a really tough day and I hung in there. It just illustrates how good my 6-under round was.

"I hit so many fairways and so many greens, but couldn't get the ball to drop," he explained. "But my ball-striking was good and I've got to take the positives out of it."

Ramsay bogeyed the third and sixth, the two short holes on the outward half, but birdied the eighth and 11th.

Havret had a 7 on his card for the second day running. After double bogeying the long fourth in his opening 68, he lost his drive at the 547-yard 11th. But birdies at the next two repaired the damage.

"This course does not accept any errors," he said. "Every hole is a real challenge and you have to focus on every shot."

Garcia, who won the Castello Masters last week just up the coast in Castellon, needs to win again to qualify for next week's WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai.

"I could have been a little bit more aggressive with a couple of putts coming in, but my short game is pretty good right now," he said. "It was difficult to hit fairways and to choose the right club.

"Thank God it's soft because, if not, this would be hell," he added. "But I've always enjoyed hard courses. Back-to-back wins would be a great thing, but I don't want to get ahead of myself.

"Valderrama can catch you any time -- you can never think that you have this course under control. Even without wind it's asking you to hit all the shots in the bag," he explained. "That's the beauty of it. A course doesn't need to be long to be tough."

Playing with Garcia, England's Justin Rose started each half with two birdies, but a hat trick of bogeys from the 15th has left him 1 over.

Compatriot Ross Fisher was second overnight, but after a 67 he crashed to 4 over with a 79. Thomas Bjorn is another on 1 over, though, and not out of the running for a fourth victory of the season yet.