CHONBURI, Thailand (AP) – Sergio Garcia finished with back-to-back birdies to shoot a second straight 7-under 65 Saturday and seize a four-shot lead after the third round of the Thailand Golf Championship.
Garcia had eight birdies overall to go with a lone bogey on the fourth to move to an 18-under total of 198 at the Asian Tour event.
''I was able to hit some really nice shots and then was able to roll two or three really good putts in and it was nice to be able to finish birdie, birdie on this difficult finishing stretch,'' Garcia said.
Henrik Stenson also shot a 65 to sit tied for second with Anirban Lahiri of India (67). Justin Rose, who shared the overnight lead with Garcia, only managed a 70 to fall five shots back.
Garcia raised some eyebrows by playing with his girlfriend, Katharina Boehm, as his caddie this week, but the partnership seems to be working just fine on the golf course. The Spaniard, though, did joke that Boehm was holding him back.
''I think if she will not be on the bag it would probably be like 25 under,'' said Garcia, who had a hole-in-one on Friday. ''No, seriously, it's great to have her around, forget about having her on the bag this week. Just a very positive person, a lot of good energy, that's what I love about her, and it's great to be able to go through this with her. I think the experience, not only for me but for her, I'm sure is interesting and a lot of memories.''
Stenson, the hottest player in golf over the second half of the season, had a bogey-free round to put himself in contention. Having become the first player to win both the FedEx Cup and the European money title this year, Stenson certainly looks like the biggest threat to Garcia's chances of winning a first title of 2013.
''That was a good day, definitely was the best I played this week,'' Stenson said. ''Made some good birdies and some really good saves to keep the momentum going. … I saw Sergio, he finished with two birdies to pull away four ahead again, so it's going to take some golf to catch him tomorrow. I know he's desperate to get his hands on a trophy, he's played well this year but has not managed to win anything. I'll try to challenge and see what happens.''