May 6, 2015
THE MODERATOR: We have our 2008 PLAYERS champion Sergio Garcia in the room today with us. Sergio, what's it like to come back to this course where you do so well?
SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, no, it's great. Obviously one of my favorite courses on TOUR. So always a pleasure coming back here to Sawgrass and to THE PLAYERS, and I'm excited about the week. Wishing to play well and have another good solid week like it's been lately here.
THE MODERATOR: Great. Open it up to questions.
Q. Jim Furyk said yesterday that he thought moving to May was a turning point in elevating this event in the players' minds, and certainly you've played better in May in this event. Do you agree that that was the right move to make and do you think the players agree that it's a better tournament overall in May than in March?
SERGIO GARCIA: I would say so. I think being in May it's in a better spot for it. Usually the weather is a little bit better than in March. I think that it's right after the Masters, so the Masters is kind of gone and they can focus, everybody can focus on THE PLAYERS a little bit more. So, yeah, I definitely think so. I think the course looks better now than it did in March. So overall I personally think it was a good move.
Q. How has it helped your game to be playing in this time of year and these conditions? Do you just like the course better now and does it suit you better?
SERGIO GARCIA: I don't know. I guess I've never been a fast starter on my season, so I guess the later it gets, the better for me. So probably that's been one of the reasons. But no, I think that it's just -- I like the course, and I've done fairly well, like you said, in this time of the year. But I've had some good weeks when it was in March, too. Maybe not as many.
Q. How much tougher is it to win out here now, if it is, than when you came out here at 19? And the second part is can you talk about the difficulty of winning this tournament?
SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, I think that it's definitely tougher to win on TOUR now than it used to be. I think that the depth of the fields is much stronger than it used to be, which is great. It's great for the game. Obviously when you manage to get a win here and there, it makes you feel even more proud of yourself. I think winning here is always challenging. It's the kind of golf course that it's asking you for a lot of different shots. So it's the kind of golf course that you want to play. It's really pushing you to the limits. Greens are fairly small, so you have to be accurate, not only off the tee but into the greens. You're not going to have a lot of 50 footers on these greens. It's very rare that you have a long putt like that because it kind of reminds me a little bit of Valdarama. Obviously Valdarama maybe has a little bit more movement, but it's small greens; if you hit a good shot you're always going to have a birdie putt. It always feels like you're in range to make a birdie. And if you miss the greens, then chipping is very challenging, so it's a great golf course overall.
Q. This is the one day a year we get to see the caddies take a shot, and I was wondering if you have any story, favorite stories from 17 with the caddies, and if you think Glen is, how nervous do you think he is about hitting that shot?
SERGIO GARCIA: I think that they all get nervous. I don't know, I've had different caddies going to that hole. I've had Glen hit some good shots in there. Gary hit a couple nice shots. I think Wallace last year hit a nice shot, it just didn't come up the slope. But I've seen some beauties, too. I've seen some guys hit the tree on the right, which is far away, with a wedge. It's been funny. It's nice to see them go through it, see how intense it gets and how nervous they get. And how relieved they get after they hit it and if they hit it on the green, even more.
Q. So seeing someone hit the tree with the wedge, that would probably disqualify them from ever being carrying your bag?
SERGIO GARCIA: (Laughter.) You know, the fortunate thing is they don't have to hit the shots for us. So, if they did, then maybe there probably wouldn't be a lot of caddies out here working for us. But I think that it's a fun thing for the TOUR to do. It's like having the parking lot for the caddies' winner right next to the entrance of the clubhouse. It's something that is very unique. It only happens here at the PLAYERS and that's what makes this event so much more special.
Q. The winning score the last four years has been 13-under. Do you consider that a trend or is it just coincidence?
SERGIO GARCIA: No, I think it's coincidence. I think it just depends on the weather conditions. I remember when I played, when I won in 2008 it was very windy, it was very dry. Winning score was 5-under. We had some between 7-, 8- and 12-, 13-under. We have had a couple maybe 15-under, I think, or something like that. But I think it just shows the quality of the golf course. Usually the way it is now you don't really see the score that Greg Norman shot awhile back or anything like that. I think that the course is asking you a lot more. I've always felt like the really good championships should be won between maybe 5-, 6-under and 12-under. I think those are really, really good tournaments. This one goes straight into that.
Q. Do you go into any tournament with any kind of target score?
SERGIO GARCIA: No. No, not really. I think you always try to shoot the best you can. If I want to shoot -- usually you're going to shoot more than you wish for, so obviously if I had to hope, I would hope for 18-under par and then if I shoot 11, then I might have a chance. But if you go thinking, oh, if I shoot 10 or something like that and then you only shoot 6, then you might fall short. So you just try to shoot the best you can every day. Some days you have it a bit more, and some days you have to work with what you have.
Q. Does it seem a little wetter than usual Wednesdays of a PLAYERS in May?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, obviously we had a little bit of rain last night or early this morning. There's one thing we can't control in our game. That's the weather. Obviously, we could put a big glass bowl on top of the course and make it as firm as we wanted, but unfortunately, we can't do that. So we do depend a little bit on that. There's some chances of storms throughout the week, so if it rains, then it's going to be tough to have a course firm like we like it to play here. But at the end of the day, it's still a challenging golf course, even if it's not playing very firm, so it won't be easy.
Q. As someone who's had success here, is there a certain part of your game that needs to be on to have a chance on Sunday?
SERGIO GARCIA: Where?
SERGIO GARCIA: Like I said before, it's the kind of golf course that is asking you to be on with pretty much every aspect of your game. I think ball striking is very, very important here because you can be -- you can't be going into these greens from the rough every time. The greens are too small and if they get a little firm, too difficult to hold, if you're going from the rough all the time. There is some holes that you have some openings, but a lot of the holes are asking you to be in the fairway and be able to hit it high and stop it quickly. So obviously ball striking is important, but you can't forget short game. I think personally I feel like if your ball striking is really, really good, because the greens are small, you can kind of get away with the so-so short game, but if your ball striking is a little bit off, then your short game has to be very sharp.
Q. Along the same lines of score, when you won and it was 5-under, usually when somebody shoots 5-under and wins a tournament they don't win by seven. Second place is not 2-over. So it's a little bit nerve-wracking; it seems like the ^ higher ^ hire the score, the winning score --
SERGIO GARCIA: More compact.
Q. -- the closer it is. When a tournament like that is over, do you feel more of a sense of satisfaction than if you shot 18-under?
SERGIO GARCIA: I don't know. I guess usually when you win with a score like that, you know it's been a really tough week. So it does make you a little bit more proud, because you know that it's been really, really hard work all week. When you win with a much lower score, usually it kind of tells you that the course was a little bit easier, so the stress level is maybe not as high. But at the end of the day, like I said before, a win is always satisfying. It doesn't make that huge of a difference, I guess.
Q. You look extremely fit. I've been watching you for years.
SERGIO GARCIA: Thank you.
Q. Are you basically at where you want to be physically at this juncture?
SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, I would love to be a little bit more, and we're still working on trying to get even better, obviously without overdoing it, because I feel like you can overwork your body and then run into some injuries and stuff like that. So the great thing for us is the way I feel is that I've always been very active, not only working out but doing other sports. But I've been very fortunate to not suffer really very many injuries. So I think that's the important thing. I think the fit guys are not always the ones that are stronger. I think they are the ones that stay fittest or ^ injure ^ injury-free the longest. So I think that I've been quite fortunate with that, but still working on trying to be even better.
THE MODERATOR: Sergio, thank you and good luck this week.
SERGIO GARCIA: Thank you.
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