SOTOGRANDE, Spain -- Sergio Garcia recovered from a poor start and survived a rules scare, closing the second round with two birdies for a 2-under 69
and a one-stroke lead Friday in the Volvo Masters.
Garcia feared he might be disqualified for playing a provisional ball on the 196-yard third hole at Valderrama, not realizing his original tee shot
had been found in the trees.
Chief referee John Paramor reviewed what happened for 30 minutes after the round before letting the score stand.
Garcia would have been penalized two shots for playing the wrong ball if he continued to use the provisional, but Paramor said none of the 500
spectators around the green told Garcia his original tee shot had been found, a situation the official called "bizarre in the extreme."
Garcia was relieved.
"I didn't think I had done anything wrong," he said. "I was surprised to see John afterwards."
Garcia's two birdies at the end put him at 6-under 136, one shot clear of Alastair Forsyth (69). Ian Poulter had a 67 and was another shot back.
Darren Clarke was steamed, and for good reason. He was leading the season-ending event on the European tour until he came to the par-5 17th.
Clarke hit three wedges onto the green, all of which rolled down the severe slope into the water. He wound up with an 11, which dropped him from the
lead to 25th place after his 72.
Clarke joins a long list of victims on the 17th, which first gained notoriety in the 1997 Ryder Cup when Tiger Woods putted off the green into the
water. Two years later, he hit a 9-iron from 100 yards with no spin, but a gust of wind got the ball rolling into the water and he made 8, nearly
costing him the American Express Championship.
Nick Price was one shot behind in 2000 when he twice hit into the water and made 8.
Garcia removed the suspense with a 3-wood from 241 that landed softly about 15 feet from the pin for a two-putt birdie, and he finished off his round
with a wedge into 10 feet.
Poulter was the only player without a bogey on his card. Despite playing in his first Ryder Cup, the Englishman gives himself low marks for the year
because he hasn't won.