May 26 (Reuters) - Sergio Garcia, back at the scene of his first PGA Tour victory, moved within one stroke of the lead after the second round at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational in Fort Worth, Texas on Friday.
The Masters champion made a sizzling start with four birdies in the first seven holes en route to a four-under-par 66 in breezy conditions at Colonial Country Club, where he secured his maiden American triumph 16 years ago.
Americans Webb Simpson (66), Kevin Kisner (67) and Scott Piercy (66) and New Zealander Danny Lee (64) headed a crowded halfway leaderboard on six-under 134, with Garcia, fellow Spaniard Jon Rahm, Englishman Paul Casey and American Sean O’Hair at five-under.
Defending champion Jordan Spieth avoided missing three consecutive cuts for the first time in his career after carding a 68 to trail the leaders by four shots.
Garcia said his putting had improved from the first round.
“I rolled a few putts in that I wasn’t able to do yesterday,” he told Golf Channel.
Rahm was certainly impressed with his compatriot after playing in the same threesome.
“Today he started amazing,” Rahm said. “It was great shot after great shot. He sure made it look easy. I am just blessed to be able to play with him.”
Lee also hit his share of excellent shots, particularly late on as he birdied his final three holes to post the day’s best round.
“I played great today,” said the 26-year-old South Korean-born Lee, whose game is back on track after a quiet six-month stretch.
“Ball-striking was on point today. I wasn’t worried about hitting one single shot. I felt like I could pull off any shot. My putter’s been getting better, starting a couple of months ago.”
Lee was excited by his position.
“I haven’t been in contention for so long. My game’s gone away for a while. I’m looking forward to next couple of days.”
Joint leader Simpson found his game mid-round thanks to a tip from his caddie Paul Tesori.
“I didn’t hit it well the first 12 holes,” said the 2012 U.S. Open champion, who like Lee birdied the final three holes.
“Paul saw something and told me and I made good swings coming in. It was just a little key. My downswing was coming from my arms and not my body. It looked like I had tree trunks for legs so I had to get them involved.” (Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Peter Rutherford; )