Sergio Claws Way Up Leaderboard
By Stephanie Wei under PGA Tour

Welcome back, Sergio! I think.

Making his first start in the US since the PGA Championship last August, the Spaniard is steadily getting his groove back. He shot another bogey-free round at Innisbrook’s Copperhead course, carding five birdies on the way to a five-under 66, eight-under total, which puts him just one back of the leaders, Garrett Willis and Chris Couch, through two rounds at the Transitions Championship.

Sergio hasn’t three-putted yet this week, either. He credits his new claw-style putting grip, which he started using last November and has provided him with some renewed confidence.

“How would I describe it?” he cracked, smiling. “Left hand on top and right hand on the bottom.”

He’s got his sense of humor back, which is a good sign.

“It’s kind of like something similar to Chris DiMarco’s, it’s some sort of claw, but a little bit different grip on the right hand. I don’t know, I tried it last year in November in Dubai at the Dubai World Championship and it felt good, and for the last couple of days I’ve been going with it.

“There’s days where I make more putts and there’s days where I make a little less, but the good thing is, I feel like I’m hitting a lot of good putts and that’s the most important thing.”

Stung by a bee on the 14th hole, Garcia didn’t let that get in his way. Walking off the tee, he felt something on the back of his head and he swatted at it with his right hand. As soon as he touched it, the bee stung his right middle finger.

Explaining the incident to reporters, Garcia jokingly flipped the bird to indicate where he’d been wounded.

“I took the stinger out and I kind of sucked it out,” he said. “It was fine. I wasn’t happy when it happened but it didn’t last too long.

Laughing, Sergio added, “I tried to get the stinger out and I’m like, I need some tweezers or something to get this out and somebody is like, you want me to call the doctor?”

While the tournament is only at the halfway mark, interestingly, Sergio says he’s not thinking about winning.

“I just want to keep building confidence into my head, and these rounds obviously help,” he said. “If we go out there tomorrow and shoot another (good) round, beautiful. If not, that’s fine. I’ve just got to make sure that I keep building up.”

Well, it sure is nice to see his name on the leaderboard again, and more important, he’s enjoying himself.

(AP Photo/Mike Carlson)