April 7, 2017
MODERATOR: Good afternoon. I'd like to welcome Sergio Garcнa on his first visit here to our new press building.
As Sergio followed up his 1‑under par 71 yesterday and a 3‑under par 69 today, he had birdies at holes 1, 2, 3, 9, 15 and 17. And this charge has given Sergio a joint leader of the tournament with Charley Hoffman at 4‑under par.
Sergio, if you would describe your mind‑set after your birdie of 1, 2 and 3.
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I think the birdie on 1 was massive, because it's probably the toughest pin we have on that hole, that front left pin. And with the wind hurting off the left, it was a really, really difficult 5‑iron into the green.
After making that birdie, obviously it calmed me down. It gave me a lot of confidence knowing that I probably stole one there. And then hit two really good shots on the next. Almost made eagle. Hit a couple good shots on the next, and rolled a nice putt probably from about 18 feet or so.
And you know, unfortunately bogeyed 4, but I knew that at some point, you know, bogeys were going to come. They didn't come yesterday, which was great. But the way the course was playing these first two days, it was very easy to make bogeys. But fortunate enough for me, I made a good amount of birdies today, so I counteracted that. So I was very happy with that.
Q. When you went out, seven back, in the weather conditions, did you have a number in mind that you needed to get to?
SERGIO GARCIA: No. I would lie if I tell you‑‑ obviously I wanted to play well. Obviously I wanted to see if I could shoot under par again. I would have taken 1‑under par before I started, because the day was at least as tough as yesterday. And we saw how difficult it was yesterday.
But you know, when I started like that, and then I started hitting some really good shots and rolling in some good putts here and there, I thought that, yeah, maybe I could shoot 3‑ or 4‑under, and that would be obviously amazing. So I'm very pleased with my round overall.
Q. Were you aware of the mistake with the scoreboard? Your score on 10, it caused a bit of confusion to other people.
SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, I saw it on 13. The most important thing is I knew where I stood. I knew I wasn't 1‑under. I knew I was 3.
Yeah, it was a little bit of a funky hole for us. Obviously I didn't hit a good tee shot. I got lucky, I have to say, I got very lucky with the bounce there. Then I hit 3‑wood into the green and I got a little bit lucky again, almost made an unbelievable par.
But Shane hit two balls to the left and we were looking for one, we couldn't find it, we found the second one. So we are all dressed light color pants and blue sweater, so I can see why they might have made the mistake. But it was fine.
Q. On 12, what did you hit off the tee, and can you describe the bunker shot there?
SERGIO GARCIA: 12, we all know how tricky it is. I tried to hit a solid 9‑iron. Hit a great shot straight at it.
Yesterday I hit a chippy 8 and I flew it in the back bunker. I tried to hit a solid 9‑iron over that front bunker. I probably hit it three yards right of where I wanted. I wasn't trying to go at it. But I was hoping that it was going to carry, and unfortunately it didn't and it plugged in the middle of the bunker.
So that was probably, I would say, hands down, the best bunker shot I've ever hit. You know, the good thing about it was that I was a tiny bit on the upslope. But obviously a plugged lie on these bunkers that are firm, and with not a lot of green to work with; you know, I hit a really good shot that I actually thought it was going to go in, and it just lipped‑out.
But I would have taken 3 any day of the week and twice on Sunday.
Q. We probably ask you this every year, but what is it about this place that makes experience here so important?
SERGIO GARCIA: I don't know because Scott Van Pelt just asked me that in Butler Cabin, and it makes sense that obviously the more experience you have here, the more you know how to approach some of these holes and know what's going on.
But Jordan showed us that you don't need a lot of experience to do well here. He's gone first, second, in his first three tries.
But it definitely helps if you've been around a little bit, because you can‑‑ you know what to expect, and once you realize that sometimes funny things are going to happen with good shots, and you can accept that, then you can do better.
Q. How do you sift out the good memories from the bad memories here?
SERGIO GARCIA: It's not easy. It's not easy, because you try to think about all the good things that happened to you here. But also, like I said before, there's in a lot of these shots, there's such a thin line between a good shot being next to the hole and a good shot being 40 feet away and then having a very difficult 2‑putt or something like that.
So I guess at the end of the day, you try to not think about those and try to be as positive as possible.
Q. Have you ever birdied the first three holes here?
SERGIO GARCIA: No. I didn't know that, but I learned it today.
Q. So you birdie the first three holes for the first time and you hit the best bunker shot of your life?
SERGIO GARCIA: Yes.
Q. Are either one of those things pretty good omens to you?
SERGIO GARCIA: That helps, for sure. Yeah, and I got a couple nice breaks. So things are happening at the moment. So I want to make sure that I keep riding that wave and go out there tomorrow, be positive, be like I've been the first two days.
Obviously there were a couple moments out there where I could have lost it a little bit. On 13, I hit a beautiful drive and a beautiful second shot straight over the flag and I made six.
So you've just got to realize that those things are going to happen, and if you manage to do that, then you can come out here and compete and have a chance.
Q. With all your experience and contending in majors, when you start getting excited about having a chance, at what point in the tournament do you start thinking, I have a chance here?
SERGIO GARCIA: On Thursday morning.
Q. On the weekend.
SERGIO GARCIA: No, but being a part of a major, it's exciting already. Having a chance is the best thing, and winning it, I'm sure it's amazing. But for me, I feel so fortunate that I've been able to be healthy; that I've been able to play so many majors in a row. I don't even know how many there are, but so many majors in a row and giving myself a lot of chances to win them. That for me is already a win, and then, you know, we can put the cherry on top, that would be even better.
Q. This is your 19th trip to the Masters. How would you say that you have changed in that time, both as a golfer and as a person?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I have a lot more grays in my beard. I have a couple grays in my hair. Things have definitely changed.
I think that I'm a little bit calmer now. I think that I'm working on trying to accept things, like I said earlier, which can happen here and can happen anywhere. It's part of golf. It's not easy. It's much easier to say than to do it. But that's the challenge we always have, you know, making sure that you accept the bad moments or the bad breaks with the good ones, and kind of move on.
Q. Does that make you a better golfer, do you think?
SERGIO GARCIA: For sure, no doubt about it.
Q. Similar to that question, how much have you changed because you decided to‑‑ at least have figured out the other side of the equation and you're getting married? How much does that change who you are now?
SERGIO GARCIA: You guys don't like me, you want me to change? (Laughter).
No, on a serious note, all good things that happen to you in life help, with your professional, your job, whatever you want to call it; for me, it's my hobby and job at the same time. So all those good things, and being surrounded by great people that, you know, that are not afraid of telling you what's wrong with something when you do something wrong, that's something that I feel like I've always been very blessed with.
So you know, I think that I'm trying to change a little bit on that aspect, like I said before, on accepting things. Sometimes things are going to go great and sometimes they are not going to go so great. So I still have to get so much better at it. But what that shows me is that I have a lot of room for improvement, so that is something very positive.
Q. Do you feel like you're the crowd favorite here?
SERGIO GARCIA: I don't know. I feel unbelievable support out there. I think that, I've always said it, British Open and here, the Masters Tournament, are definitely some of the best crowds we have all year. They are so respectful. It's nice to see that in golf. You know, that's what we grew up hoping and watching and loving. You know, it's very nice to see that happening here.
Q. It seems like you're putting well this week and it seems like you have a new putter in the bag from the Dell Match Play. When did you change out and why?
SERGIO GARCIA: No, it's the same putter I used at the Dell Match Play.
Obviously I was talking to my colleagues at TaylorMade, and they were mentioning about, obviously, the new Spider putter that everybody has been talking and playing and doing well with. I felt pretty good with my other putter, but I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. It swings very, very nicely, which is great. And it feels good in my hands.
I think that at the end of the day, obviously confidence is important. When you have confidence, you feel like you can do better with whatever you have.
But obviously if you have a putter that makes you feel a little bit more comfortable, it's going to give you more confidence. But I've been putting well and I've been hitting a lot of great putts, and to me, at the end of the day, that's the most important thing.
Q. Good health and being healthy, what have you done to promote your durability over the years?
SERGIO GARCIA: Obviously I've done my first year of workouts and keeping fit. I think it's probably genes a little bit, too. Probably not overdoing it, knowing that your body also needs to rest.
I think that my love for other sports has helped, because when I'm playing soccer or I'm playing tennis, I'm putting on a good work out and I'm enjoying it. And I am doing it for an hour and a half or two, and it feels like ten minutes. It's tougher to go to the gym and spend an hour and a half or two.
But I think at the end of the day, it's a combination of, you know, working the right way, having decent genes, you know, and being a little bit lucky, too.
Q. Five years ago here after the third round, you vented a lot frustration about your chances in majors and having the skill to win one; how much of that did you really believe in these last few years or was that more of just a temporary frustration thing?
SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, I was frustrated. But like I said before, I probably didn't accept things as well as I should have. And I've shown myself many times after that, that I can contend and I can truly feel like I can win, not only one, but more than one.
So being healthy, same thing. It's important, because the more majors I play, the more chances I have. So you know, I'm excited about the challenges that this weekend is going to bring, and hopefully I'll step up to them and I'll be able to be up there on Sunday with a solid chance at winning, at winning this beautiful tournament.
Q. Sunday would have been Seve's 60th birthday. What would it mean to you to win, put on the green jacket on Sunday?
SERGIO GARCIA: It would mean‑‑ I don't know. It would mean a lot. It's difficult to describe it until it happens. But at the same time, it's Friday afternoon. It's not Sunday.
So hopefully, we'll be standing here and we'll be talking about that, that feeling again. That would be the best thing that could happen to me, and you know, I'm going to do my best to make sure that I'm here to tell you how it feels.
MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Sergio. Thank you. Best of luck for the week.
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