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The Open: Garcia knows he must step it up to break Major duck

By Andy Hampson

Sergio Garcia feels now is the time to step up after a second solid but unspectacular round at The Open.

The Spanish World No.12 followed up his first-round 68 with a one-under round of 70 at Royal Troon to move to four under, six shots off the lead going into the weekend.

Garcia made the turn in one under par after a birdie on the sixth, and added two more on the 14th and 16th, but dropped shots at the 12th and 18th.

The 36-year-old - still without a Major triumph - does not feel he has been playing particularly well, but is pleased not to be far out of contention.

"The course was playing totally different from yesterday, it was definitely tougher," Garcia said.

"It was just a shame about those two three-putts. Other than that, I'm happy. I don't feel like I'm playing up to my standards, so I think it's still a good score.

"I'd love to be two or three shots better, there is no doubt about that, but I'm sure everybody would.

"I'm still out there in the top 10 with a shot at it. Hopefully I'll keep improving as the weekend goes on, and hopefully I'll have a chance on Sunday."

American Keegan Bradley, meanwhile, admitted to tampering with the scoreboard alongside the 18th fairway to get his name on The Open leaderboard earlier in the week - but now he is there for real.

The 2011 US PGA champion revealed how he and some friends nipped inside one of the big yellow structures synonymous with the Championship and stuck his name on it.

He followed Thursday's four-under 67 with a three-under 68, meaning the 30-year-old is on the leaderboard on merit at seven under, three behind compatriot and Ryder Cup playing partner Phil Mickelson.

"I actually snuck up on the leaderboard on Monday this week with a couple of guys and we put our names up," said Bradley, who has not won since the 2012 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and whose best finish in the last eight Majors was a share of 19th at Royal Liverpool at Hoylake.

"We climbed up there on 18. I'm probably going to get in trouble for that and probably shouldn't have said it.

"But it is fun to see my name up there next to Phil's. It's just awesome."

South African Charl Schwartzel's decision to switch club manufacturer on the eve of The Open has proven to be no gamble after a second-round 66 put him within touching distance of the leaders.

The 2011 Masters champion shot his best round in 12 appearances at the tournament to move to four under.

He has only been using the high-end PXG brand - which cost over £2,000 a set - since Sunday and did not take possession of a full set until Tuesday but he is already more than comfortable with them.

"I was with Nike for nine years, for most of my career, and I achieved a lot with them but the time just came for a change," said the 31-year-old.

"I wouldn't have changed if I wasn't comfortable but as long as I'm comfortable, I'm happy and I know I can play well."

Belfast Telegraph


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