By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Sergio Garcia was an 18-year-old amateur when he played Sedgefield Country Club for the first time in 1998.
Playing against professionals on what was then the Web.com Tour, he tied for third. His next two ventures on the Donald Ross gem were almost as successful -- Garcia finished one shot out of a playoff at the 2009 Wyndham Championship, then came back to win the PGA TOUR event last year.
"I've liked (the course) since '98," Garcia said. "For whatever reason I feel great comfortable on it. I like the looks of the course. I like the way it plays. So you know, hopefully I'll be able to do something similar this week."
In eight rounds at Sedgefield, Garcia has a scoring average of 65.8. His low round was a 63 shot on Friday a year ago, and Garcia shot consecutive 64s in 2009. Only once in eight rounds has he failed to break par, and that round was an even-par 70.
Although there have been several multiple winners, no one has successfully defended his title, though, since Sam Snead won in 1955 and 1956. Eight of Snead's PGA TOUR-leading 82 titles have come in Greensboro.
Given his history here in North Carolina, Garcia would seem to be a good candidate to break that trend.
"Obviously I think that it's a very demanding golf course," the 33-year-old Spaniard said. "You have to drive the ball well. The greens, I think the greens now after they went to Bermudagrass, it's tougher to hit some of the spots like they were before. You know, they obviously run a lot faster and a bit firmer.
"But you know, hopefully it will be nice to change that bit of history. So the only thing I can do is go out there, hopefully play well like I know I can do and we'll see if that's good enough to repeat here."
Garcia has four top-10s this season, including ties for eighth at the Masters and THE PLAYERS, and he ranks 66th in the FedExCup. So where does he rank among the favorites in a field that features 15 major champions and eight players in the top 30 in the FedExCup?
"I hope I'm one of them," Garcia said. "But no, I wouldn't say I'm the favorite. I think that there's a great bunch of great players out here that can win. You know, the tournaments out here nowadays, anybody can pretty much win it. They all have, very good quality, great level.
"So if I play well, I do have a good chance, but if I'm not on my game, then I probably have to do something extra to have a chance."