Garcia tied for lead going into final round in Mississippi

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Sergio Garcia, of Spain, watches his drive from the 18th tee during the third round of the Sanderson Farms Championship golf tournament in Jackson, Miss., Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Sergio Garcia squeezed his eyes shut on the 18th green, not as he stood over his putt but when he saw it stop one turn short of dropping for another birdie.

No matter. He played bogey-free Saturday in the Sanderson Farms Championship for a 6-under 66, and he was tied for the lead in his debut at the Country Club of Jackson.

Cameron Davis set the target early when the Australian opened with five straight birdies and then hit fairway metal to 10 feet for eagle on the par-5 14th, carrying him to a 9-under 63. He was the first to post at 14-under 202, a lead that held until Garcia caught him, and J.T. Poston made a 12-foot par save on the final hole for a 69 to join them.

Garcia is getting plenty of attention for putting with his eyes closed, something he says he has done frequently in practice and at tournaments, including his 2017 victory in the Masters.

He also is enjoying himself, even when putts that look like they're going in stay out.

“We love to make every putt we look at — or not look at, in this case — but we know that's not going to happen,” Garcia said. “At the end of the day, if I can leave the course feeling like I've given it my best chance — like I did today — that's all I can do.”

He might need to make everything on Sunday in what figures to be a horse race, with 10 players separated by four shots on a course renowned for its pure, fast greens.

Poston reached 15 under with a two-putt birdie on the 14th and a pitch from the rough to 4 feet on the reachable par-4 15th. But he was too steep on a bunker shot on the 16th, coming up 30 feet short and leading to bogey. Poston stayed in a tie by saving par from a bunker on the 18th with a 12-foot putt for a 69.