KING ABDULLAH ECONOMIC CITY: Peter Uihlein takes a one-shot lead going into the final day of the LIV Golf Invitational-Jeddah after a 7-under 63 in the second round on Saturday.
The American made seven birdies and one eagle to compensate for a double bogey on the 13th hole at the Royal Greens Golf and Country Club in Majesty Abdullah Economic City.
Uihlein took over from previous leader Brooks Koepka, who had a 3-under-67.
Sergio Garcia (64) and Charl Schwartzel (67) were three strokes off the lead.
This is the seventh and final LIV Golf Invitational for individual and team play.
The last event of the inaugural season will be in Miami in two weeks for four-man teams.
LIV Golf is funded by the Public Investment Fund, but this is the first tournament held in Saudi Arabia after previous events in London, Portland, Bedminster, Boston, Chicago and Bangkok.
Garcia said his days on the European Tour could be over after he was fined by the circuit for pulling out of a tournament.
The 2017 Masters champion and Ryder Cup stalwart said he felt “more welcomed and loved” on LIV, where he has been one of the star attractions in its debut season.
Spain’s Garcia, 42, was reportedly fined by the European Tour for failing to medically explain his withdrawal from last month’s BMW PGA Championship after an opening round of 76.
“I don’t know. As of now, it doesn’t look like it. But we’ll see,” the 16-time European winner said, when asked if he would play on the tour again.
“At the end of the day I want to play where people want me, where people are excited to have me and where I feel like I’m welcomed and loved.
“And right now that’s here, that’s LIV and I’m very excited about it.”
Garcia has three top-10 finishes in six events so far on the lucrative circuit, which has split golf and angered the established tours by poaching top players for exorbitant fees.
The Spaniard, who is also a team captain in the 54-hole, no-cut series, is tied for third on nine-under-par 131 behind leader Peter Uihlein at this week’s $25 million Jeddah Invitational.
Victory in round three on Sunday would earn him at least $4 million — more than double the $1.98 million he pocketed for his famous win at Augusta five years ago.
Garcia wore shorts and a left-knee brace at par-70 Royal Greens in Majesty Abdullah Economic City, and said he would have a scan next week to see if he needs meniscus surgery.
“It might need a little clean-up or something. I’ll know more next week when I have a proper MRI and take a look at it,” Garcia said.
“It sucks because I’ve been very fortunate with injuries throughout my career, I’ve been very healthy, and to play through one it’s not the most enjoyable thing.”
Uihlein had an eagle-birdie finish to edge ahead of fellow American and team-mate Koepka by one shot at the top of the leaderboard on 12-under 128.
He said he preferred the team format — where players can also win money depending on their collective scores with three team-mates — compared to the “lone wolf mentality” of the US PGA Tour.
South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel, who shares third with Garcia and won the opening LIV tournament in London, said it was impossible to compare the new circuit with the “prestige” of a major victory.
“The Masters, winning a green jacket is the biggest achievement that you can do in our game, I believe,” he said.
“I won a lot of money, it was fantastic,” Schwartzel added.
“But I cannot compare it to winning a green jacket.”