PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLORIDA – Sometimes the answer to a simple question is an even simpler answer.
The question asked of Sergio García on Saturday afternoon was why he has the Masters champion green jacket with him at the Players Championship.
García’s answer: “Wouldn’t you?”
Well, of course.
The champion only gets to take the jacket off Augusta National property for the year he is champion, so technically García can keep the jacket for only 11 more months.
Unless he wins again next April.
He has a chance now of winning this Players Championship after shooting 67 in blustery conditions Saturday, moving himself to 5-under par for the tournament and close enough to the lead to seriously contemplate what a low number Sunday could mean.
He has won here before – in 2008 – and he has had good chances a handful of other times. This week, it took a couple of days for García to shake off the mental fog of getting back to work, though he had done his best to sharpen his focus before arriving at Sawgrass.
“I practiced for a solid two weeks. I didn’t feel rusty game-wise, I felt rusty probably head-wise,” García said.
“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, and so it was important to shoot a decent round. I mean, obviously to have the finish that I had on Thursday and then shoot a solid round yesterday, make the cut, and then kind of free up a little bit today and play a little bit more like I was playing the week of The Masters.”
The Thursday finish to which García alluded included the hole-in-one at the par-3 17th, which helped him overcome a 4-over par start in his first six holes. On Friday, García’s tee shot at the 17th landed on a railroad tie at the front of the green, bouncing the ball forward, averting disaster in the process. While the wind gusted Saturday, García ground on, moving ahead while so many others were moving back.
Meanwhile, the green jacket stays close.
“When we get to The Masters next year they’re going to take it away, so I think I’m going to hold on to it as long as I can for this year,” García said.