Sweden’s Peter Hedblom shot a 7-under 64 to take a one-shot lead into the third round of the European Tour’s Castello Masters as local favorite Sergio Garcia missed the cut.
The 40-year-old three-time European Tour winner reached 9 under, one shot ahead of three players, including Italian teenager Matteo Manassero, who share second place.
Hedblom, the winner of the 2009 Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles, said he will have to play his best golf of the year if he is to stand any chance of holding on to his lead. He currently lies a lowly 98th on the European money list and has missed the cut in six of his last 11 tournaments.
“This has not been a good season for me,” said Hedblom after a round that included six pars and an eagle but finished with a bogey on the ninth hole, his last of the day at the Club de Campo del Mediterraneo.
“If I knew why I would have tried to fix it, so it was quite unbelievable how well I played today,” he added. “And it would be great if I could keep it going over the weekend.”
Garcia, meanwhile, missed the cut at the tournament he promotes in his home town and was left dejected after a 2-over 73. Garcia had returned to action Thursday after taking a two-month break from golf.
“It’s tough for me especially missing the cut here,” said Garcia after a round in which he missed five close-range putts. “The way I putted I feel as though I am back to where I was when I left the game in the summer. It’s very frustrating.”
The 17-year-old Manassero shot a 66 to join Spain’s Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, who also had a 66, and Scotland’s Paul Lawrie, who followed his opening 64 with a 70, in second place at 8 under.
Manassero missed his first cut since turning professional in May at last weekend’s Portugal Masters and was pleased with his response to that setback.
“This was always going to be an important week for me after missing the cut last week. But the way I am playing now it could be my week,” he said. “Being up with the leaders is going to be a different kind of pressure. But if I keep playing as well as I have been and putting well then I will be in with a chance.”
Spain’s Jose Maria Olazabal, playing only his second tournament of the year and hoping he will recover sufficiently from chronic rheumatism to be Europe’s next Ryder Cup captain, will play over the weekend after a 68 took him to 1 under.