By Matt Smith
DUBAI (Reuters) - Sergio Garcia admitted he was weary after failing to make up any ground on the leaders at the DP World Tour Championship on Saturday, carding a third-round 69 that gives the Spaniard little hope of claiming second spot on the European money list.
Garcia’s sole European Tour victory in 2014 came at January’s Qatar Masters -- his only title on the circuit since 2011 -- and his form since September’s Ryder Cup has been middling, failing to make the top 20 in his last two European Tour events.
“I was running on fumes. It’s the way it is. I’m not playing great, but I’m trying as hard as I can,” Garcia told Reuters. “I probably won’t play as much as I did this year.”
Garcia, playing with South African veteran Ernie Els, was erratic on the Earth course, with birdies at five and seven followed by successive bogeys into the turn.
Another dropped shot put him one-over for the round, but four birdies in the last five holes showed why he is the world number six. He has an aggregate score of 211, five under after 54 holes.
"The last three birdies to finish manicured my round,” he said.
"I made a nice putt on 16 from about 20 feet. On 17, I hit a good shot on 16-18 feet and rolled that in. I hit a great drive on 18, didn’t hit a very good second shot but then had a great chip to about two feet."
Rory McIlroy has already won Europe's money list title, but there remains much to play for, with the top 15 players sharing a $5 million bonus pool on top of Dubai's $8 million event purse.
Garcia's playing partner Els also had little to cheer.
“I’m not scoring the way I want to but I’m playing much better,” the 45-year-old told Reuters.
“I’m looking forward, trying to get as much out of a round as I can, because I feel my game is really coming around but it’s a little frustrating I'm not scoring the way I want to.”
The four-time major winner’s four birdies and two bogeys gave a round score of 70 and an aggregate 212.
“It’s just putts here and there and the odd mental error,” added Els. “I can go loopy in the head, so I just need to tighten my mental game up and the physical thing will come.”
(Reporting by Matt Smith; editing by Toby Davis)