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August 6, 2014

Sergio Garcia


KELLY ELBIN:  With a tie for second at The Open Championship and solo second at the World Golf Championships Bridgestone Invitational in his last two starts, Sergio García joins us at the 96th PGA Championship.  This will be Sergio's 16th PGA Championship.  He tied for 34th in 2000, when the PGA was held here at Valhalla.  Looks like you're in pretty good form heading into the final major of the season.
SERGIO GARCIA:  Thank you.  Good morning.  Sorry for making you wait a little bit.
No, it's been a good year.  Obviously a lot of high finishes, some really good chances of winning tournaments.  Unfortunately, it's only happened once this year in Qatar, but yeah, I'm excited about it.
Obviously it's another big week here this week in Valhalla.  So, you know, we're going to try to do more of the same and keep playing well and see if we can be up there again on Sunday and have another good chance.
KELLY ELBIN:  Have you had a chance to play the golf course a little bit, and if so, some thoughts?
SERGIO GARCIA:  Yeah, I played it yesterday.  It looks very good.  It's in good shape.  Obviously playing a little bit different than 2000.  I think in 2000, the second hole was a par 5, if I remember correctly.
KELLY ELBIN:  Converted to a 4.
SERGIO GARCIA:  This year it's quite a tough Par 4.  But other than that, it looks pretty much the same as 2008.  So, you know, it looks nice, and if the weather holds, it should play fairly tough.  The rough, even though it's not too high, the blades of grass, it's very, very thick, and so it's difficult to control the ball out of it.  And some of these greens are a little bit raised and so it's not easy to hit it close to some of the pins.

Q.  Based on your play the last couple weeks and really the whole year, is this the most confident you've ever been going into a major championship?
SERGIO GARCIA:  Yeah, I mean, possibly.  Obviously 2008 was a big year for me.  Kind of similar to this year with a lot of good playing and obviously winning THE PLAYERS that year.
But I obviously feel quite good.  I'm excited about it.  You know, it will be nice to play well again this week.

Q.  Do you look at those close finishes as more of a negative because you didn't win or a positive because you're coming so close?
SERGIO GARCIA:  No, I try to always look at the positive side of it.  I think that the only one that I could say maybe I could have done a little bit better, obviously Sunday I could have putted definitely a little bit better.  For some reason I just struggled with the speed of the greens.
But you know, if you look at some of the other finishes, I was coming from behind, I was attacking, I was trying to catch up.  So I think for the most part, it's all been very positive.  I mean, like I always say, obviously finishing second is not the greatest but, you know, the only guy that loses is the one that has a chance of winning.  If I'm lying 50th, I'd rather finish second and lose than be 50th and not have a chance.

Q.  Is that a different mind‑set than you might have had five or ten years ago?
SERGIO GARCIA:  I wouldn't say so, no.  I think it all depends on the situation.  But obviously the one on Sunday is a little bit different because I was three shots ahead; obviously Rory played very nicely.
But I didn't feel like I gave it away.  I still fought hard.  On the back nine, I still had a chance.  You know, if I would have made a couple puts early on, 10, 11, something like that, maybe 13 that I hit a good putt.  Other than that, I felt like it was pretty good.

Q.  Congrats at The Open.

Q.  You always play aggressive golf, and specific to hole No.7, you've got some history there.  Do you have a game plan this year for No.7?
SERGIO GARCIA:  Well, game plan is, you know, hopefully hit a good drive down the left and hit a nice second into the green.
I think that if you‑‑ I mean, you can obviously play it quite safe to the right and then probably make it a three‑shot hole.  The thing is, if you have with the mind‑set of going for it in two, if you go down the right, you can still get to the green in two.  But then instead of hitting maybe a 4‑iron or something like that, you're probably hitting like a 3‑wood or a 5‑wood into that green, which from the right is still not easy.
I think that I'm still going to be quite an aggressive probably going down the left side.  If I miss the fairway and I don't have good lie, I'll just lay up and try to get my four that way.  If I hit a good tee shot, then I'll try to hit another good second and give myself a shot at eagle, so we'll see what happens.

Q.  Can you describe your growing rivalry with Rory?
SERGIO GARCIA:  Well, I think obviously my rivalry with him has been since we have both been pro.  Obviously I didn't really get to play with him as an amateur; he was too young.
He's a wonderful player.  We're quite friendly with each other.  We get along well.  We enjoy each other's company.  So it's good to see him playing well.  Obviously he's got a lot of talent.  You know, the only thing I can do is keep improving, keep getting better and when we're both up there again, make it even tougher or impossible to beat him.

Q.  What are the similarities playing with Rory in the final round versus playing with Tiger Woods like you did a few years ago?
SERGIO GARCIA:  I don't know.  I think obviously they are both great players.  I think to me, it feels like‑‑ I don't know, obviously I haven't played with Tiger for a while.  But when they are both at their best, to me it seems like Rory is less afraid of hitting driver, and when he's hitting it as well as he's hitting it now, he's hitting it very far and quite straight.  So obviously it makes a lot of holes a lot easier, you know, where most of the guys are hitting 7‑iron and he's hitting wedge.  So it's a little bit of an advantage at that point.
You still have to hit a good drive, so it doesn't mean that it's easy.

Q.  Two separate questions.  Firstly, as you look back on your career, even going back to 19, do you think you felt a greater sense of urgency to win a major when you were younger than you do now?
SERGIO GARCIA:  Probably.  I've never felt‑‑ obviously I've always wanted to win at least one, but I would never say I felt urgency about it.  I mean, obviously we're here trying to do it, week‑in, week‑out.  So it would be nice.  But like I've always said, if I get to 45 and I haven't won one, then I'll probably start worrying a bit more.  But I don't know, hopefully that won't happen.

Q.  Secondly, I'm just curious, when you come back to a major championship venue like here or Medinah or Liverpool, whatever, first time you're playing the course, do you ever have memories of when you get on certain holes?  For example, when you get to 14 here, do you still see Anthony Kim running up to the tee box on 15?
SERGIO GARCIA:  (Laughs).  Yeah, I guess I didn't think about that one yesterday but I was playing with Rafa yesterday and I mentioned to him the first hole.  I remembered the first hole with Anthony.  We both hit it stiff to like two feet and I asked him for a halve and he said no.  I gave it to him and then he made me putt mine.
Those little things you can remember.  But to tell you the truth, I really don't have a lot of memories from 2000 for some reason.  And 2008, I have some but not too many either.  I guess it wasn't that great a week for us (smiling).

Q.  Jack Nicklaus this morning characterized your recent stretch of golf, and I'm paraphrasing, as a bit of bad timing with how Rory has played at the same time‑‑
SERGIO GARCIA:  Who said that?

Q.  Jack Nicklaus, said this morning.  He just said it seems like a bit of bad timing.  Curious how you would characterize your recent stretch of golf?
SERGIO GARCIA:  No, I think‑‑ I wouldn't say bad timing.  I think playing well, it's always great.  And if somebody else is playing better than you, there's nothing you can do.
I mean, I can see what Jack is referring to in a way, but I think that at the end of the day, like I said, the only thing I can do is try to play the best I can and to the best of my ability on that certain day.  You know, if I manage to do that, I know thatI've shown that I can play really, really well.  But if somebody else plays better, the only thing I can do is congratulate him and move on.

Q.  Could you talk a little bit about how the European Ryder Cup Team is shaping up and specifically Luke Donald and Lee Westwood outside the automatic places just now; could you imagine playing a Ryder Cup without them on the team?
SERGIO GARCIA:  Well, I mean obviously that doesn't come down to me.  It comes down to Paul.
But I think the team looks very nice.  I think that we seem to be in a fairly good form, which is nice to see.  But The Ryder Cup is still pretty much a month and a half away or so.  So there's still a lot of time to get there, a lot of things that can happen.
And regarding to Luke and Ian, for example, and Lee, obviously they are guys that you would like to have on your team.  They still have ‑‑ I think there's like three or four weeks to go to try to get into the team.  They are all right there.  I mean, it's not like they are far away from the list.  So hopefully they will be able to get there, and if not all three, at least one or two of them.
But we'll see what happens.  It would be difficult to see a Ryder Cup without all three.  I mean, you can see maybe without one of them but without all three, it would be kind of strange.  But we'll see.

Q.  Over the years, Irish golfers have frustrated you in the majors, Padraig twice, and more recently, Rory; if you're in contention on Sunday evening, would you rather there were no Irish guys anywhere near you on the leaderboard?  (Laughter).
SERGIO GARCIA:  That's an interesting point (laughing).
You know, I wish I could blame it only on the Irish guys.  No, I think it's just curiosity.  I've been close two or three times with Tiger and he's come out on top, and obviously, yeah, with Padraig and then Rory lately.  But no, it's just the way it is.  You can't kind of look at it‑‑ you can look at it different ways.  So it's just funny, I guess.  Good point, though.

Q.  You seem better equipped these days to handle the disappointments that you've suffered recently.  What do you put that down to?  Is it maturity or being in a good place off course?  Why do you think you've managed to recover so well?
SERGIO GARCIA:  Well, I think to start with is probably not looking at it as a disappointment itself.  So obviously if you look at it in a negative way, it doesn't matter how well you do or whatever you do; you're always going to see the bad things.
I could stand here and go, oh, I shot 27 on Friday, if I would have made that putt on 11‑‑ why would I do that?  I had an unbelievable round.  Why would I look at it in a negative way?  I try to look at things more positively.
I think that so many things happen in your life and happen in golf where you feel maybe that you should have gotten something better, so why look at it that way.  Just try to enjoy the good moments as much as possible.  Obviously I'm really excited about the way I'm playing.  I'm really happy the way I'm playing.  I think looking at it that way, it's probably helped me.
Obviously if I would have gotten really, really negative on Sunday, I probably would have shot 75.  And instead of that, I still kept trying, even though I didn't start well, and I kept trying hard and kept putting myself in position to do good things.  And then I ended up having a pretty good shot at it.  I had some good birdie chances at the end to maybe even tie Rory, and unfortunately I just wasn't able to do it.
You know, I think that's the way you have to try to look at things.

Q.  If you were offered a one‑shot ahead of Rory on Sunday night, would you take that?  If someone said you could be one shot ahead of Rory on Sunday night, would you say, that will be good enough?
SERGIO GARCIA:  One shot ahead?

Q.  At the end of Sunday night.
SERGIO GARCIA:  Of course.  Why wouldn't I take that?

Q.  Do you think that would be good enough to win?
SERGIO GARCIA:  Oh, sorry, I thought you were talking about last week (Laughter).  Sorry.
One shot ahead of Rory this week?  I mean, he's playing great.  Obviously it's not easy to go back‑to‑back‑to‑back wins.  The way he's playing, he might be able to do it.  But I don't know, I mean, it's difficult to say.  I just want to play as well as I can and the future will tell me where I should end up.
But if you look at the way he's been playing, obviously if you're one shot ahead of him, you should be up there.  But I don't know if it will be good enough.  There's a lot of other great players that are playing here.

Q.  I've known you for a long time and I cannot remember seeing you as happy and playing so well as you are now.
SERGIO GARCIA:  Thank you.

Q.  Are you happy because you're playing well or are you playing well because you're happy?
SERGIO GARCIA:  I think a bit of both.  I think that I'm happy, obviously I feel like things around me are right where I want them to be, and that obviously puts me in a nicer situation when I go on to the golf course.
And then obviously‑‑ don't get me wrong; it's not just good playing because of happiness.  Obviously it's work and confidence and all those things, and things happening, too.  Obviously I've had some really nice things happen to me on the golf course and things that keep your round going.
I think all those things kind of put together make up for the happiness and the good play.

Q.  Curious, have you ever seen a psychiatrist?  And if you haven't, has anyone ever tried to talk you into it?
SERGIO GARCIA:  Should I?  (Laughing).
No, I did see a friend of mine that, I wouldn't say he was a psychiatrist but probably something similar, in 2009‑‑ end of 2009, beginning of 2010.
But I don't know, I've never been‑‑ I've never had the feel for it.  I've never really believed in it, and when you don't believe in something, it's difficult to pay attention to it.  So to your question, yes, but no.  That make any sense?  (Laughs).

Q.  What have you seen in Rickie Fowler, be it maturity or whatever, that would explain how well he's done in majors this year?
SERGIO GARCIA:  Yeah, I think it's a mix of I think he's feeling comfortable with some of the swing changes he's made, and I think obviously, yeah, it's maturity, it's confidence, probably loosening up a little bit.
You can see that he's enjoying what he's doing and he feels great about it, and that's why he's playing so well, too.

Q.  Last week at Bridgestone, you were quoted as saying that Valhalla was not one of your favorite golf courses.  Could you elaborate a little bit about why that is?  You've been here at least a couple of times I think.
SERGIO GARCIA:  I think it's simple.  I think that there's nothing written about likes and dislikes.  So obviously what you like, I might not like or what I like, you might not like.  I love Sawgrass; I love Valderrama.
Even last week‑‑ my kind of‑‑ the kind of courses that I like are the courses that they are asking you, maybe they are not particularly long, but they are asking you a lot off the tee.  They are small greens, small targets.  If you play nicely and you hit good shots, you always feel like you have a birdie putt.  You don't have a lot of 60‑ and 70‑footers.
Those are the kind of courses I like.  I'm not saying that Valhalla is not a good course.  I mean, don't get me wrong.  But the same way that I like some courses, maybe there's some others that‑‑ I mean, I didn't say I didn't like it.  I just said it's not my favorite.

Q.  A lot of the guys yesterday talked about the kind of course Valhalla is and why it doesn't suit everybody, and a lot of the guys talked about the approach shots being so challenging.  Is that something you subscribe to?  Guys talked about you have to hit extremely high shots and it really favors a guy who hits the ball long so you can use shorter clubs to hit those high shots.
SERGIO GARCIA:  It all depends on the weather.  If the weather stays good and the greens get firmer as the week goes on, it definitely does help a guy that can hit the ball quite high, land it soft.  Obviously a longer hitter that can obviously hit shorter clubs into the greens.
But like I say every week and like I said it earlier, you still have to be in the fairway.  If you are hitting a wedge from this rough into a firm green, you're going to struggle to even hit the green because the ball comes out with very, very little spin, and then you have to try to find ways of running into the greens.  And there's not a lot of greens that you can kind of run the ball into it.  So at the end of the day, you still have to hit the fairways, but if you can manage to do that, yeah, you're as close as you can be to the green and you can stop it quicker, it definitely helps.
KELLY ELBIN:  Sergio García, thank you very much. 

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