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SHELL HOUSTON OPEN

March 31, 2015

Sergio Garcia

HUMBLE, TEXAS

AMANDA HERRINGTON:  Good afternoon, everyone.  We welcome Sergio Garcia to the Interview Room here at the Shell Houston Open.
Back for a third time after finishing 3rd last year.  This is your 6th start of the season.  You've already got two Top-5s.  Tell us how you're feeling about this week and going into the next.
SERGIO GARCIA:  Yeah.  No, excited to be back here in Houston.  Obviously had a great year last year -- had a great week last year.  No.  But played 9 holes this morning.
The course looks great, very good shape.  The greens are a little bit soft at the moment, little bit slower than expected but other than that, it looks really nice and I'm excited to play and do hopefully a little bit letter than last year.
AMANDA HERRINGTON:  We'll open it up for questions.

Q.  Sergio, you did play very well last year and contended and were in position maybe to win the tournament.
Didn't seem to set you up well for the Masters though.  You got down there and didn't hit the ball well.  Will you do anything different this year?
SERGIO GARCIA:  No, not really.  I think that at the end of the day every single week, it's a new story and, you know, some weeks, some weeks you play terrible and then the next week you play amazing.  Some weeks you play great and the next week you play terrible and some weeks I play great and then you play great.
So, you know, you never know what's going to come out.  Obviously you hope and you wish that you play as best as you can.
But at the end of the day the only thing I can do is go out there and play to the best of my ability and, you know, just hope that the best is good like it was here last year.

Q.  You're not here to practice for the Masters.  You're here to win the Shell Houston Open and get some practice in.  That's great, too.
SERGIO GARCIA:  For sure.  I think that there's no doubt that obviously, yeah, the Masters is in the back of our minds but, you know, I'm here to play well, to get on some good rhythm, to have a chance at winning this week and then as soon as Sunday finishes then I'll concentrate on the Masters.
I'm not going to be on the golf course this week thinking, you know, maybe let's try this shot because I'll have it next week on the 12th or on the 15th or something like that.  No.  I'm going to be focused on what I want to achieve here and then when Sunday finishes then I can concentrate on next week.

Q.  You contended and played very well at the Open Championships.  Rory had an unbelievable run.  Never wavered, start to finish.
Can you reflect a little bit on the state of the game right now with him seemingly on the top going for a third straight Major?  You still chasing one?
SERGIO GARCIA:  Yeah.  No, I think -- I mean obviously there's some guys that we're missing.  There's no doubt about that.  I think it's nice to see some of the younger guys coming up, like Rory and Jordan and Patrick Reed and, you know, some other international youngsters coming up that are doing great.
You know, at the end of the day, we know that that's the future.  It needs to keep kind of clearing up as it goes on.  Obviously we get older every year and it's nice to see young guys playing well and keeping the future of the game up there where it should be.

Q.  Sergio, what was your motivation to come back to this event last year?  You skipped it for awhile.  Did you find in your game being here last year?
SERGIO GARCIA:  Well, I -- schedule-wise it seemed to -- I wanted to do something a little bit different going to the Masters.  I felt really comfortable here when I came last year.  I wanted to try it again this year and hopefully it will be -- I'll do better next week, too.
But, you know, it is a nice golf course.  They take great care of us.  Obviously you have some shots that you might get next week.  So, it's nice to get a feeling about it, you know, chipping around the greens and things like that.
So, you know, first of all, it's a great tournament and I think it also helps that it's set-up similar to next week.

Q.  Sergio, what do you think of Jimmy Walker?  He won five times now in his last 37 attempts on Tour.
SERGIO GARCIA:  He's obviously coming off the shelf.  He's a wonderful player.  We've seen it since the beginning but now looks like he's loosening up a bit more.  He probably believes in himself a lot more than he maybe did early on.
So, you know, he's doing great and I'm sure he's very happy about it.

Q.  I know you talked about this, you won all over the world, a bunch of Top-10s and Majors.  How important is it at this stage in your life to check that box on your resume and win the first Major?
SERGIO GARCIA:  It is important but it's not the ultimate thing, you know.  Obviously it's something that I would love to do mainly because, you know, I would love to win not one, more than one Major because it's one of the reasons why we practice and why we love doing what we do.
But I also said it, you know, let's hope not, for whatever reason it comes out -- comes down to me not winning any Majors when I'm done with my golfing career, I'm not going to be sad or I'm not going to be less happy than if I do.
I think that, you know, it's not the main thing.  Obviously it's something nice to have and if I get it I'm not going to give it back but that is not -- it's not the main thing in my life.

Q.  When did you come to terms that you would not allow that to define what you're all about as a golfer?
SERGIO GARCIA:  Well, I think as you get older, as you get more and more experience, you realize, you know, the important things in life and you know -- I'm not saying that winning a Major is not important but it's not the most important thing in the world.
I think there's a lot of other things that you can do that cannot only fulfill you as a player but also as a person and, you know, at the end of the day the most important thing for me when I quit playing golf is to leave the game better than when I started.
So, you know, hopefully I can put my little, my little fingerprint on it and help it a little bit.

Q.  There are reports out there that Tiger's plane is in Augusta, private jet is in Augusta.
Would that surprise you if he plays and if he does play what do you think that would mean to the game, to you guys seeing him back out there?
SERGIO GARCIA:  Well, I mean I think that every time that he plays it's good, it's good for us, it's good for the game.  It would be nice to see him play at least two, three weeks in a row which doesn't seem like he's been able to do for quite sometime now.
But, we'll see.  At the end of the day, you know, if he doesn't play, you know, it doesn't mean the tournament is not going to go on and golf is over.
We all got to realize that -- I said it before, there's going to be a point where there's going to be no Tiger, no Phil, there's going to be no Ernie Els, no Sergio Garcia, no Rory McIlroy but there will be other guys coming up that will take the game where it should be.
You know, it is what it is.

Q.  All the Majors you come close in, is there one you regret more than another?
SERGIO GARCIA:  I don't know.  I think probably the one that kind of sticks in my mind probably would be 2007 British Open.  But, no, I think that at the end of the day like I always said, you know, I give it my best effort and, you know when I do that like I did last year at the British Open, there's nothing you can do.  If someone plays better than you the only thing you can do is congratulate him and keep trying.

Q.  That was a classic tournament where you certainly played well enough to win the tournament but one guy played lights out, right?
SERGIO GARCIA:  I don't think I did.  That's why I didn't (laughter).

Q.  Sergio, as the guy who was seen as a young gun for so many years, is it strange for you to be on the other side and part of the older guys?
SERGIO GARCIA:  Not really.  The way of life.  I'm 35 now.  I'm not 20, 22 anymore.  You know, it's the way it is.  There's nothing you can do about that, you know.  I'm happy that I'm 35 and hopefully I'll keep getting older.  That's a good sign.

Q.  What's changed in your outlook now versus when you were younger?
SERGIO GARCIA:  I think like I said before, I think that as you get older and you go through life and through moments not only on the golf course but outside and stuff, you kind of realize the things that are really, really important in your life and things that are important but you can kind of go through without them.
So, it's just a matter of, you know, realizing those things, realizing what you want to do, you know, trying to do it the best way you can and then, you know, if you manage to do that and you leave -- you know, you leave the course or whatever you are with your head up, held high, I think that's all I could do.  There's nothing else you can do.

Q.  What are you most proud of in your career right now to date?  What would be one thing that would stand out?
SERGIO GARCIA:  I don't know.  Fortunately for me, you know, even though people think -- some people think opposite.  I think that I've had a great career.  I feel very fortunate.
Obviously it all depends on who you're compared with but against the average, I think that I've been very, very fortunate.  I've done a lot of great things in and outside the golf course.
So, I think that not only some of my wins and Ryder Cups and things like that, but some of the things we've done with my foundation and The First Tee and things like that, those things are sometimes maybe overlooked and, you know, people don't realize how great it is to be able to help people that really need it.
So, you know, a lot of great things.

Q.  Sergio, you've had a little time to reflect on your finish at Northern Trust.  Based on the way things went down, what did you take away from that and what have you been working on to tidy your game?
SERGIO GARCIA:  Fortunately, I feel much better.  You know, I've been working on my game quite hard and, you know, my feel for the swing and what I'm doing with the club and everything feels much better than it did there.
Now I, wish I could be maybe standing on that 17th tee the way I feel now, I mean opposite to the way I felt that week.  But, you know, like I said, yeah, I mean you can look at it and say, oh, you know, you finished bogey bogey and missed the playoff by 1 and this and that.
I looked at it on a different way, you know, as badly as I felt through the whole week with my game -- I'm not saying I didn't hit good shots, but I hit of lot of bad shots and a lot of bad shots I haven't hit in a long time.
To get that feeling and still have a chance at winning, almost winning the tournament, that was the very positive thing for me.
So, that's the way I took it that week and, you know, the only thing I can do is keep improving and keep putting myself in that situation.

Q.  Is the driver the thing you've been focusing on?
SERGIO GARCIA:  No.  Everything.  I hit some terrible irons that week, too.  I worked on everything, every single aspect of the game and probably short game was -- what worked the best for me, was the most consistent that week and, you know, I just tried to sharpen everything around it.

Q.  Sergio, you're getting ready to play here at a tournament that's had a high number of playoff finishes through the years.  You've won some of your memorable wins at TPC obviously in the playoff, I remember the Nelson playoff.
Can you talk a little bit about the mindset it takes when you get in that situation, what works for you when you get there?
SERGIO GARCIA:  In a playoff?

Q.  In a playoff.
SERGIO GARCIA:  Well, to me usually when I get into a playoff I feel more relaxed than when I'm playing outright, you know, on the 72 holes because you feel like you've already had a great week, you feel like you're ready, have a great chance at winning.
So, you know, whatever happens, you know, if you do well it feels like a great little present or prize and so, you know, you just try to, just try to be aggressive, confident and, you know -- the good thing is no matter what happens you can't finish worse than 2nd.

Q.  Any strategic change you take in, do you go at the flag harder when you've got the opportunity?
SERGIO GARCIA:  No.  It all depends on how you feel at that time.  There's times where -- obviously if you don't feel comfortable going at a pin -- unless you really, really have to because the other guys hit it to a foot, then, you know, sometimes it's stupid to force yourself to do something you don't feel comfortable but, you know, if you do, yeah, you take a chance and even if you don't pull it off, then, you know, it's fine.

Q.  Sergio, you touched on Rory awhile ago.  Your thoughts about, there is a possibility at the age of 25 to complete the career Slam next week.
What do you think about that?
SERGIO GARCIA:  It's great.  It shows the potential and the quality of the player that we're talking about.  Obviously we all knew that he was, you know, he was going to be the next best thing and, you know, he's showing it off and, wonderful, wonderful player, great person and that's why he's doing well.

Q.  Do you think at this stage, is he on the verge of being Tiger-esque as Tiger was ten years ago or something?
SERGIO GARCIA:  It's difficult to say.  What Tiger did for so long, it's going to be very difficult to repeat, you know, his winning streaks and all the Majors he won for a time where, you know, he was really, really out there pretty much seemed like every week.
That's very difficult to achieve and I think that Rory has some, some sort of similarities to that, maybe his consistency is not as great as Tiger's was when Tiger was in his prime, but it's fairly close.  Anytime you can be close to that I think you're in good shape.

Q.  Do you ever think back warm memories of '99 Medinah PGA?
SERGIO GARCIA:  Yeah, obviously, I do.  I do think about it once in awhile.  It kind of comes back to mind and it was an amazing week for me so how can I not have those memories?

Q.  Kind of defined who you were, who you were going to be.  You let your personality show.
SERGIO GARCIA:  It defined who I was, not who I was going to be.  I was just being myself.  That's what I always do and for good and for bad.  You know, I was just being myself doing what I love doing which is playing golf and that's what it was.

Q.  You started out your PGA Tour career in Texas.  You got your first win in Texas on the PGA TOUR, player consultant on the course used last week.  Talk about Texas and I guess it holds a special place to you somewhere.
SERGIO GARCIA:  Definitely, no doubt about it.  Like you said, a lot of great things have related me to Texas.  I think that obviously Byron Nelson was my first, my debut here in the U.S. and played great there, finished 3rd, I think.
So I had to -- I want to say two wins here in Texas.  So, very, very fortunate to be able to do well in this State and, you know, the only thing I can hope is for more great things to come in the near future.

Q.  Sergio, has your belief in your chances at Augusta National improved?
SERGIO GARCIA:  Yeah, I'd say-so, for sure.  Yeah, definitely.
I feel like, you know, from maybe four, five years ago, I definitely feel -- I think it's mainly because of the way I look at everything now.
So, you know, even last year when I missed the cut, you know, I was fine with it.  Obviously I wasn't happy but I was -- I took it much easier than I might have taken it 6, 7, 8 years ago.
I think at the end of the day, you know, I came to realize that I can't try to force things and, you know, I just try to let it happen and if it happens to go well, great and, if it doesn't, you know, just come back the next year and try it again.
AMANDA HERRINGTON:  All right, thank you for your time today.
SERGIO GARCIA:  Thank you.

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