Sergio Garcia loves The Players Championship. The fans at The Players Championship love Garcia. The adulation between the player and golf community may never be as strongly felt as here at the Sawgrass Country Club. On Saturday, the 2017 Masters Champion shot a 5-under 67 for the third round to pull in contention for the final round on Sunday.
The Spaniard is four shots back of J.B. Holmes, who was 2-under for the day and Kyle Stanley who shot an even-par 72 on Saturday. Four other golfers, including Louis Oothuizen, Si Woo Kim, Emiliano Grillo and Ian Poulter, are all in front of Garcia.
Garcia was all smiles as he walked off the course and met the media. He spoke about how he loves coming to Ponte Vedra, Florida, where he has won this tournament once before in 2008. Another round like today on Sunday could give him his second title in North Florida, but also a piece of history.
The last time a golfer won at both Augusta and Sawgrass was 2001 when Tiger Woods pulled off the feat.
“I didn’t really think about it,” Garcia told The Inscriber Digital Magazine. “It is nice to be part of that group.”
If there was a theme for the day on Saturday, it might have been the weather. The majority of the week, players have had to deal with scorching temperatures and hard greens. On Saturday, the sun broke through the clouds after rain fell on the course in the morning, and then strong winds challenged the players in the afternoon.
Garcia said it is something he and other golfers are used to.
“We used to it, so you know you have to be hitting the ball very solid in these conditions,” he explained.
And solidly he did. While Pat Perez set the pace for the morning with a 6-under round of 66, Garcia showed his ability to move around the course – one he loves coming to.
Keegan Bradley, who shot a 1-over 73 for the day after a 69 on Friday, said the winds did make it difficult. He said the winds were gusting to 20 miles per hour at times, which did challenge him and his play.
Still, the 2011 PGA Champion said he believes he can come out and shoot a low score tomorrow and play better golf.
Even with the time off from the game since his win at The Masters, Garcia showed he can still produce under-par rounds here at The Players Championship.
“I didn’t feel rusty game-wise,” Garcia said with regard to a slow start. “I felt rusty probably head wise. I felt like there were a lot of thoughts going in my head, and the first day I was still thinking about the Masters and everything that has been going on. It was important to shoot a decent round.”
By the way if you were wondering, he brought his green jacket with him to The Players Championship. When he addressed the media after his round, he said the officials at Augusta National are going to ask for it back next year, so why not wear it as much as possible.
It was a softer, more relaxed Garcia, said he was pleased with the way he hit the ball Saturday and how much he enjoys playing here.
“I just like the golf course,” Garcia said. “I’ve told you guys many, many times it’s one of my most favorite golf courses we play all year, and for some reason I can see what I want to do,” Garcia said.
“Obviously there’s a couple tee shots here and there that are a little bit uncomfortable, but I see what I want to do and I can see most of my reads quite well and I just feel comfortable on it. So it usually helps to play better.”