Garcia's Hopes to Duplicate Prior Success at Sawgrass

Sergio Garcia shifted into high gear with a 7-under 65 Friday to take the 36-hole lead in the $9.5 million Players Championship.

The 33-year-old Spaniard has recorded 13 birdies against only two bogeys - one each day - to reach 11-under 133, a shot ahead of Tiger Woods, who he'll be paired with Saturday.

Garcia - an eight-time PGA Tour winner and the 2008 Players champion - will be seeking his first title in the States since the Wyndham Championship last August. In that tournament the player nicknamed El Nino started hot and stayed there, posting rounds of 67, 63, 66 and 66 to win by two over Tim Clark.

Garcia's Players' win in the Players wasn't quite so smooth. He started with a 6-under 66, then posted two straight 73s and closed with a 71, finishing tied in regulation with Paul Goydos at 5-under 283.

Garcia beat the veteran on the island-green 17th after Goydos found the water with his tee shot and made double-bogey, while Garcia hit to within four feet and two-putted for the title.

After signing for his 65 Friday, Garcia met with reporters and discussed his fine play so far and his chances on the weekend. Here's what he had to say.

MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Sergio Garcia after a very successful second round, 7 under 65, here at the Players Championship, capped off by birdies on six of your last eight holes. That being said, some comments on the round, and kind of how you're feeling as you head into the weekend here?

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, wonderful day today. I played - yesterday I scored very well; I didn't play that great, but today I played much nicer. Couple of tee shots here and there that I would have loved to hit a little better, but other than that, it was nice. I hit the ball very well, hit a lot of good iron shots and gave myself a lot of good birdie opportunities. I wasn't able to convert many of them on the front nine, which was 10 to 18 for me. But then I got going on the back nine, and I got on a great run there where I made a lot of putts in a row and managed to make those six birdies in a seven hole stretch which is nice.

Q. Could you just talk about your round a little bit? Seems like you made everything you looked at just about.

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I didn't, funny enough. If you would have seen me on the front nine, I played better on the front nine than I did on the back. Obviously I couldn't really - I mean, I only made a couple putts on the front nine. I hit every single green, gave myself good birdie chances everywhere. Hit some good putts. But then on the back nine I played well, probably not as well as the front, but yeah, I started rolling the putts in. I just got in a good rhythm on the greens. It seemed like I had a good feel for it, and every putt just wanted to drop. I actually thought that the one on the last was going to go in, too. I hit it exactly where I wanted, but unfortunately it just didn't break to the right.

Q. But you made that one on 8?

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, and the one on 7 and 6 and 5 and 4 and 3 and 2.

Q. You get on a roll like that, do you feel like, hey, I can make anything? SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, I mean, unfortunately we don't have enough of those, but when you start going like that, obviously it feels great. You know, everything seems kind of clearer in your head, you seem to see the break. You don't see like, it might break left but it might not. You seem to feel like everything is a little bit easier, a little bit smoother, and you hit the putt and it manages to go in. But yeah, it's good to enjoy them. Unfortunately, if it was easy we would have plenty of those, but it's not. It's enjoy them while you have them.

Q. Over the last maybe five, six months, your form's really been very good, playing very well. Tomorrow maybe you play with Tiger who has also in that time been really on the up-tick. Is it good for you to measure yourself to see where you're at in your game?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, we'll see. There are still a lot of guys out there, and got to give credit to all of them. Obviously, Roberto Castro is playing well too. So we'll see what happens. But, no, no, I don't have to measure myself against anybody. I know what I want to try to do, and any given day I can shoot a round like this and any other day he can shoot a good round and beat me. It's not, like we always say, it's not a sprint; it's a marathon. So there are going to be good days and not so good days, so just got to enjoy the good ones as much as possible.

Q. The score is a lot lower this year than other years. Do you have anything that you attribute it that to?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I think there hasn't been much wind to start with. I think that because of not having a great winter, the condition of the course is - you don't have as much grass on the greens. The greens seem to be a little bit grainier. So some of the shots are easy to stop. Even though the greens are firm, they're not as firm as you can get them when they're a little fuller like they've been the last probably four or five years. So the ball seems to stop a little bit easier, shots like the one on 9, for example. I guess, those kind of little things makes it a little bit easier. But on the same spec you still have to hit good shots because it's the kind of golf course that is going to punish you if you don't. So that is the beauty of this course. If you drive the ball well, you know you can have a good amount of birdie opportunities. But if you struggle a little bit, it's going to be tough.

Q. If you should find yourself in contention on Sunday, how much does the memory of what happened here five years ago, is that something good to lean on?

SERGIO GARCIA: Of course, of course it is. Good thoughts are always good, and what happened here five years ago was great, what happened here six years ago was great. Fortunately, for me, I've managed to play quite decent on this golf course. So any good thing that can you get in your head, it's obviously positive and those kind of things always help. But, it's a different year, so obviously the shots I hit that year, they can give me a good thought, but it's a different tournament. So we'll see if we can manage to do something similar.

Q. As a follow up, how long have you been going with the putter you've got right now?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I've had - it's very similar. I just changed it - when was it? I think it was Doral week. But it's very similar. The only thing that changed was the hosel on the putter. It's the same putter I've been using for over two years, but it's more of a 90 degree kind of hosel now, and the one I had before was a little bit more of a bent. So it's pretty much the same type of putter, and, yeah, I putted with it for just over two years, like I said.

The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.