Sergio Garcia stood on the 18th green with a chance to tie the course record with a 9-under par 61 and take a three-shot lead going into the weekend of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
Garcia would calmly step up and convert the putt for his 11th straight one-putt, a Firestone Country Club record score of 27 on the back nine, seven consecutive birdies and 23 putts for the round. Now at 11 under, Garcia leads Justin Rose by three shots after two rounds.
“The only thing I can tell you is I was feeling very comfortable, I was obviously very calm,” Garcia said. “I could see what I wanted to do pretty much almost every shot. And there I could see the lines in the putts quite well.”
With his 61, Garcia tied Jose Maria Olazabal (2000) and Tiger Woods (2013) for the course record. Coming into this, his 14th Bridgestone Invitational, Garcia had one top-10 finish which occurred in 1999, the first year he played the event. This is the first time he’s shot consecutive rounds in the 60s.
Garcia’s round started with one birdie on the front nine which was on the second hole. On the back nine, his lone miss was a 15-foot putt on the 11th hole in which he was putting from the fringe.
After sinking his putt on the 17th hole, Garcia later told reporters that it reminded him of the Travelers Championship earlier this season when Kevin Streelman converted seven birdies in a row to end his final round and win the tournament by one over Garcia and K.J. Choi.
Rose had the lead for most of the round after shooting 3-under par 67 to get to 8 under for the week. Rose, the 2012 WGC-Cadillac Championship winner, is trying to win his second tournament of the year after a triumph at the Quicken Loans National. His front nine had birdies on holes 1 and 5. After a bogey on 14, Rose came back with birdies on 15 and 18.
Rose’s best finish in this event is a tie for fifth place, and has one bogey on the week. He entered the tournament 20th in the FedEx Cup Standings and has six top-10 finishes.
“I’m feeling good about peaking at this time of the year,” said Rose. “Every week is big. You could argue a major championship in the middle of it all is the one you’d really love to peak for next week. But at the same time, there’s not a bad golf tournament now for about two months. Looking forward to the whole stretch.”
McIlroy is in a tie with first-round leader Marc Leishman at 7 under. McIlroy, who had experienced trouble in previous second rounds on tour this season shot a 6-under par 64, his best ever score at Firestone. A big reason is McIlroy’s 318.5 average driving distance which leads the field.
Were McIlroy to win this event and Adam Scott finishes outside of the top five, then McIlroy will supplant the Australian as the new number one in the official rankings. A win also would be McIlroy’s first in a World Golf Championships event as his previous best was a runner up in the 2012 Accenture Match Play Championship.
Rickie Fowler and Charl Schwartzel round out the top five at 6-under par while Phil Mickelson is at 4-over par for the tournament and in a tie for 53rd.
Notebook: The PGA TOUR issued a statement calling media reports that Dustin Johnson had been suspended untrue and that he was taking a leave of absence as reported Thursday. Earlier Friday, Golf.com reported and cited a source claiming that Johnson had his second positive cocaine test with one coming in 2012 and another coming this year.
The source also said that Johnson had a positive marijuana test in 2009. It has been confirmed that Johnson will miss the remainder of the season and “seek personal help.” Johnson is ranked 15th in the Official World Golf Rankings.
The tour statement is the second statement, with the first coming Friday offering no additional comment. Johnson is one of the more popular golfers on tour and his competitors wished him the best.
“He’s going to be fine from a golf standpoint when he returns,” Jim Furyk said to Golfweek’s Dave Shedloski. “When you take that much time off and announce that far out that you’re not playing, then it must be something important, so in that regard it’s good for him to step away. You get the other things in your life in order first, the important things, and let golf take care of itself.”
Of note: Due to “expected inclement weather” tee times have been pushed up. Golfers will tee off in threesomes on holes 1 and 10 starting at 7 a.m. and ending at 9.
Tiger Woods shot 1-over par 71 on the day. When hitting the driver, Woods hit one of nine total fairways. He hit four total fairways but following his round did not blame just his driver.
“It wasn’t just the driver, it was just everything,” said Woods. “I didn’t hit it good in warmup. Sometimes it’s just warmup and then you go out and hit it great on the golf course. That wasn’t the case today.”
Bogey free rounds were shot by Garcia , Keegan Bradley , Jim Furyk  and Francesco Molinari