Garcia overcomes nerves and a shank

Sergio Garcia shot even par Friday to remain at six under.
Robert Beck/SI

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland — Sergio Garcia’s belly putter is still working, and that, he said, is taking a lot of pressure off the rest of his game.

“It was more of a grinder’s day,” he said of his second-round 71, which was good enough to keep him in the lead at six under. “But I am still pretty happy. The belly putter feels miles better under pressure than the short putter has felt.”

Garcia admitted to feeling nervous on the 1st tee, and he even shanked a 9-iron from the fairway into the rough.

“It was a solid shank, though,” he joked.

He then ran up a fantastic chip to save par. The last time Garcia shanked a shot was also from the middle of the fairway at the first hole, at Sun City, South Africa, in 2003.

“I was playing with Retief (Goosen) in the last group on Sunday,” Garcia said. “Got the 9-iron out, and shanked it way right of the green. That time I made bogey, but I managed to win the tournament. It’s not a bad thing.”

So maybe the shank was a good omen for the 27-year-old Spaniard, who was in good spirits after his round. It was just as well, as he again had to face the dreaded questions about being the Best Player Never to Win a Major. Does he get frustrated when he’s asked when it will happen?

“Never, that’s the first time I’ve heard it,” Garcia laughed. “I am trying to win as many majors as I can, I can tell you that. Last year, I shot 23 under par in the last two majors and didn’t win. Sometimes you’ve just got to give it up for the guy that wins. And just keep trying.”

Eight years ago, he finished last here. He has two rounds to turn that result upside down and end his 0-and-32 major slump.