CRANS-SUR-SIERRE, Switzerland – Sergio Garcia shot a 6-under 65 Friday for a three-stroke lead over Garry Houston after two rounds of the European Masters.

Garcia, who shot a 32 on the front nine, finished with an 11-under total of 131. He made an eagle at the par-4 fifth hole after he drove the green and holed a 7-foot putt.

First-round co-leader Houston shot a 69, one stroke ahead of Jean Van de Velde (65).

Defending champion Luke Donald – Garcia’s house guest for the week – shot a 72 for 12th place, tied with Sweden’s Jarmo Sandelin, another first-round leader who had a 73.

David Carter, who also shared the opening-round lead with a 65 on Thursday, shot a 72 to tie for eighth.

U.S. amateur champion Edoardo Molinari made the cut at 143, after rounds of 72 and 71.

Garcia was pleased with his eagle.

“I’ve been trying for three years to drive that green,” said Garcia, who missed an eagle putt at No. 7.

The tournament is the first that counts toward making next year’s Ryder Cup team. Garcia said he would ask captain Ian Woosnam to exclude him if he didn’t qualify among the top five Europeans in the world rankings.

“If I don’t qualify for the Ryder Cup and I don’t feel I’m playing well, I will tell Woosie he could get someone else better than me at the moment,” said the sixth-ranked Garcia.

Van de Velde, who missed five months because of a recurring knee problem, began his round with an eagle after hitting a 6-iron to within 10 feet. He completed the front nine in 5-under 31.

AP-ES-09-02-05 1508EDT


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