MUNICH, June 25, 2011 (AFP) - Sergio Garcia's comeback gathered pace here Saturday when the Spaniard fired a best-of-the-day 64 to move into a share of second place in the BMW International Open.
Garcia, who finished seventh in the US Open last week, ended the day two shots behind leader Mark Foster of England and level with South African pair George Coetzee and Retief Goosen, his Spanish compatriot Pablo Larrazabal and Englishman Robert Coles.
Sweden's Henrik Stenson, who shared top spot overnight with Coetzee, put two balls in the water on the long 11th and three-putted for a quadruple bogey nine before finishing with a hat-trick of birdies to be five behind.
Garcia's fine form gives him the chance not only to register his first victory for over two and a half years during which time he fell from second in the world to outside the top 80 and at the same time to salvage a place in next month's British Open at Sandwich.
The 32-year-old Spaniard bagged nine birdies after starting the day six behind and even led on his own for a while.
A top-four finish could give Garcia one of two Open places up for grabs off a mini-money list that has been running on the European Tour for the past month.
"I knew for British Open purposes I needed to do something special," said Garcia, who a month ago pulled out of a qualifying event in America because of an infected fingernail.
"Last week was good - it was nice to be up there in a major again.
"I didn't have a chance to win because Rory (McIlroy) was playing out of his mind, but it feels like the game is coming along and I think my putting is definitely improving."
Garcia has not missed a major since the 1999 Open - the one in which he finished dead last after rounds of 89 and 83 at Carnoustie.
The 35-year-old Foster also has a chance of making the entry list for Sandwich after his third round score of 66 which left him solo in the lead at 14 under par.
The 35-year-old has won only once in 278 starts on the European Tour and that was eight years ago, but he has twice blown three-stroke final round leads at last year's Spanish Open and this season's Andalucian Open.
"I know I've got it in me - it flicks in and out," said the former English amateur champion. "I've done it enough times to know that anything can happen.
"I've not been playing so much so I can be mentally stronger. That's my plan for this year and I will see how it goes.
"That was the key today. I'm making the right decisions and if something goes wrong I'm reacting in the right way."
Leading scores after the third round of the BMW International Open here on Saturday (GBR and IRL unless otherwise stated; par 72):
202 - Mark Foster 68 68 66
204 - Robert Coles 72 67 65, Sergio Garcia (ESP) 69 71 64, Pablo Larrazabal (ESP) 68 67 69, Retief Goosen (RSA) 68 69 67, George Coetzee (RSA) 67 67 70
205 - Lee Slattery 67 72 66, Graeme Storm 70 67 68
206 - Matteo Manassero (ITA) 70 70 66
207 - Liam Bond 69 68 70, Shiv Kapur (IND) 70 71 66, Joost Luiten (NED) 70 69 68, Tim Sluiter (NED) 66 70 71, Henrik Stenson (SWE) 64 70 73, Lloyd Saltman 71 66 70
208 - Markus Brier (AUT) 67 69 72, Marcel Siem (GER) 69 68 71, Simon Khan 69 67 72
209 - Thomas Norret (DEN) 70 68 71, Ross Fisher 71 70 68, Richard Green (AUS) 71 71 67, Danny Willett 66 74 69
210 - Francesco Molinari (ITA) 73 66 71, Jean-Baptiste Gonnet (FRA) 69 73 68, Hennie Otto (RSA) 69 71 70, Magnus A Carlsson (SWE) 72 70 68, Oliver Wilson 71 68 71, Robert Dinwiddie 70 70 70, Colin Montgomerie 70 72 68, Martin Kaymer (GER) 70 68 72, Peter Lawrie 69 68 73, Scott Jamieson 69 69 72, Anthony Kang (USA) 74 68 68, David Drysdale 69 70 71, Richard Finch 70 68 72, Bernd Wiesberger (AUT) 74 66 70