Sergio’s sentimental about Sawgrass course

Ryder Cup team-mates Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood are hoping their love of Sawgrass will keep them on course for a £1.1 million payday in the prestigious Players Championship.

The last time Garcia led a tournament was in The Masters last month and, after admitting that Augusta National was not his favourite course, the Spaniard went out and shot 76 in the second round.

However, the world No.15 feels much more at home on the Pete Dye-designed Stadium Course at PGA Tour headquarters and took a one-shot lead into the third round after rounds of 68 and 65 left him 11 under par.

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“[This event] means a lot, it’s the Players, it’s our tournament and I have had the honour of winning it before and have done fairly well here,” said Garcia, pictured right, winner in 2008 and leading money winner in the tournament’s history with earnings of £2.2m.

“It’s one of my favourite golf courses and that usually helps. I feel like the game is good, maybe not spectacular, but I have had a pretty consistent year this year. If I can manage to get as many wins as possible it will be great, if I get one it will be great, if I don’t the only thing I can do is try as hard as I can.”

Garcia will have his work cut out to claim victory, however, with world No.1 Tiger Woods his nearest challenger on 10 under after two rounds of 67.

Woods and Garcia, due to play together yesterday, have been paired together 19 times on the PGA Tour, with Woods coming out on top 12 times, Garcia three and four ties.

“I’m only one back, I have put myself there but 36 holes on this golf course is a long way to go,” said Woods, who has won three times this year but only once in his professional career at Sawgrass (in 2001).

Westwood has yet to win at Sawgrass but has also yet to drop a shot in 36 holes after adding a 66 to his opening 69 to lie two shots off the lead on nine under alongside Sweden’s Henrik Stenson and American Kevin Chappell.

“I love this golf course, always have,” said Westwood, who was fourth here in 2010 and sixth and fifth as far back as 1999 and 1998 respectively. “It’s a golf course I always feel like I can see a way around.

“It will be sort of like a major championship-style mentality to go out there and play disciplined golf this weekend and not attack flags when they shouldn’t be attacked. I enjoy that kind of golf. It’s very rewarding if you play well.”