Sports

Sergio Garcia blisters Firestone with a 61

Sergio Garcia leads Bridgestone Invitational by three after a 61
Garcia birdies the last seven holes at Firestone in a 61
PGA Tour says Dustin Johnson has not been suspended

Sergio Garcia tied the course record at Firestone by closing with seven consecutive birdies for a nine-under-par 61 Friday.

The record-tying round gave Garcia a three-shot lead over Justin Rose going into the weekend at the Bridgestone Invitational at Akron, Ohio.

The Spaniard broke the record on the back nine with a 27. He ended his day in style, making a 25-foot putt on the 17th hole and a 20-footer on the 18th. Phil Mickelson, who played with Garcia, took off his cap and bumped fists with Garcia.

The only hole on the back nine that Garcia did not make birdie was No. 11, where he missed a 15-foot putt from just off the green.

It puts Garcia in great shape to try to capture his first World Golf Championship.

Tiger Woods shot a 71 and was 10 shots behind.

Meanwhile, it was announced that Woods and Mickelson will play together in the opening two rounds of the PGA Championship next week at Valhalla, along with Padraig Harrington. Woods and Mickelson will be in the same group at a major for the first time since the 2012 U.S. Open.

And the PGA Tour is refuting a report that Dustin Johnson has been suspended. Johnson said in a statement Thursday he was taking a leave of absence to seek professional help for "personal challenges" that brought an end to his season. Golf.com reported Friday that the tour had suspended Johnson for six months for failing a drug test. The website cited a source it did not identify.

The PGA Tour issued a statement Friday afternoon to clarify that Johnson has taken a leave of absence "and is not under a suspension from the PGA Tour."

Dawson leads

Monday qualifier Marco Dawson shot a nine-under 63 to take the lead in the Champions Tour's 3M Championship at Blaine, Minn. Bernhard Langer was a stroke back five days after the German's record-breaking victory in the Senior British Open.

Dawson, playing the back nine first at TPC Twin Cities, birdied three of his first four holes and chipped in for eagle on No. 18. After a birdie on the par-five third hole, he birdied three of his final four holes.

Langer, the two-time 3M champion who won by a tour-record 13 strokes Sunday at Royal Porthcawl, was tied for second with Jeff Maggert, Rocco Mediate and Vijay Singh.

Langer holed out from the fairway for an eagle on the par-four 14th.

Kenny Perry opened with a 65, and Paul Goydos had a 67 in his debut on the 50-and-over tour.

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