Sergio on fire Sunday at Riviera


LOS ANGELES – Sergio Garcia seemed intent on keeping the run of giant PGA Tour comebacks going.

With a pair of eagles on the back nine, his first nine Sunday at the Northern Trust Open, Garcia mounted a strong charge before a couple bogeys coming home derailed his challenge.

Nine shots back when the final round began, Garcia closed with a 7-under-par 64. He got within two shots of the lead after making the turn. The last three winners of PGA Tour events have come from six, seven and eight shots behind in the final round.

Garcia was asked if he was thinking about winning with his charge.

“It’s hard to say,” Garcia said. “Everything had to be absolutely perfect for me. I obviously couldn’t make any bogeys.

Garcia shot 30 on his first nine, then birdied two of his first three holes after making the turn to generate a buzz around course. The electronic scoreboards across the property alerted galleries that Garcia was making a run at the course record, a 10-under-par 61 shot by Ted Tryba in 1999. Garcia was 8-under through 11 holes before slowing down.

His hard run stumbled when he missed a 3½ footer for par at his 13th hole (No. 4).

“The bogey was a momentum stopper,” he said.

Garcia got his big start going with an eagle at the 11th, his second hole. From 265 yards, he hit a 3-wood to 9 feet and made the putt. At the 15th, he holed a 4-iron into the wind from 207 yards for eagle.

Garcia will play in next week’s Accenture Match Play Championship. Though qualifying for the event ended at the conclusion of last week’s AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, the pairings won’t be set until the newest world rankings come out. The field will be set Monday.

If the world rankings don’t change, Garcia is positioned to open match play against fellow countryman Miguel Angel Jimenez.

“This is good momentum for me,” Garcia said. “I’m hoping I can take it into next week.”