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THE 146TH OPEN

July 17, 2017

Sergio Garcia

Southport, England

MIKE WOODCOCK: Delighted to welcome the 2017 Masters champion, Sergio Garcia to the interview room.

Sergio, you've had so many great performances in The Open over the years, how does it feel to be coming into this week with a major championship under your belt?

SERGIO GARCIA: It feels great, no doubt about it, but at the same time it's a brand-new week. Everybody knows how much I love The Open. So I am excited to be back here, third time at Birkdale. And hoping that the game feels good, that I can kind of pick up where I left off in Germany and have a great week and a good shot at another major, for sure.

Q. What would mean more, the Green Jacket or the Claret Jug?
SERGIO GARCIA: It's difficult to say. I think they're both amazing. At the moment the Green Jacket means more, because I have it, but everybody knows how much I love The Open Championship. And I would love to at least have one of them before I kind of hang up the boots.

So definitely it's something that I would like to achieve. And we're going to give it a shot this week. But that's like saying, who do you love more, your dad or your mom? So it's a difficult question to answer.

Q. Your mind this week, is part of it on the wedding or is it completely focused on golf? How do you deal with the two?
SERGIO GARCIA: (Laughs) No, it's on The Open, don't worry. It's going to be where it has to be this week. Angela has been doing a great job of getting everything ready for the wedding.

And obviously we're really excited for next week. But we have something that we're also extremely excited about this week, and we want to be here giving everything we have and hopefully, like I said before, with a chance on Sunday, it would be great.

Q. (No microphone.)
SERGIO GARCIA: I don't know, that's not up to me. She always has something up her sleeve.

Q. Are you a different person because of your change in wardrobe? Just because you've got a Masters, do you feel like you're a different person?
SERGIO GARCIA: I don't think so. Do I seem like a different person?

Q. Not necessarily.
SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah. I said it then right after winning the Masters, I don't think that things have changed. Obviously there's a lot more requests now to have interviews and things like that. But I'm still the same person. I still treat everyone the same way that I did before, with respect, and the way my parents taught me to. It's great to be able to have that extra jacket in my closet and to have that major. But anything else, it doesn't change.

Q. I want to ask if you're happier, because of winning a major? But I guess what I mean by that, did you ever differentiate between yourself as the golfing side of life and the other side of life?
SERGIO GARCIA: I mean, to be totally honest, I don't think I'm happier. I'm really happy. But fortunately for me I've been very happy pretty much my whole life. So that hasn't changed. Like we say in Spain, the more sugar, the sweeter it is. So obviously winning the Masters made it even sweeter, but it doesn't mean that I wasn't happy before. So I don't think it really changes that much.

Q. Is that how they say it in Spain?
SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah: Cuanto más azúcar más dulce.

Q. Just following on from Doug: Given that you've got the major monkey off the back, as it were, is this as relaxed as you've felt coming into an Open Championship in particular?
SERGIO GARCIA: I don't know. I am excited about it. Like I said, The Open, it's one of my favourite tournaments of all year. So, I don't know, I mean I've been very relaxed in some Opens. And I've played great and been very relaxed and played maybe not as great as I would like to, but I don't think that it changes. At the end of the day when we get there on Thursday morning on the first tee, the nerves will be there and that's not going to change because that's what drives us. So we'll see how we're able to handle all of those.

Q. Related to both those questions, does winning the Masters make you a different golfer and does it improve your chances this week?
SERGIO GARCIA: I don't know, they're all kind of - I don't know how you say it - rhetorical questions. It's difficult to say because obviously, like I said before, winning the Masters was amazing and it does give you a little bit of extra confidence, and I've been having a very solid year. So all of those things are great. But every week is different, and you don't know how you're going to feel when you go out there on the course.

So obviously I am excited about it. I am confident about my possibilities, but I can't tell you if I'm going to be right up there on Sunday with a chance. I'm hoping that I will be but unfortunately it doesn't work like that every week. So at the end of the day you also have to realize that after winning Augusta, you still want to push hard and get more majors. So it's not like everything is done and that's it. So I guess it's kind of a knife with two edges or two blades, however you say it.

Q. As a major winner, does it make the previous near misses seem less painful now? And I also wonder where would Royal Birkdale rank among your favourite Open venues?
SERGIO GARCIA: No, they're still painful because they're chances that you wish you would have taken and unfortunately you didn't. It definitely made the Masters more enjoyable, I would put it that way.

I think Birkdale, it's a great golf course. I think it's a tough -- probably one of the toughest, other than Carnoustie and maybe Muirfield, one of the toughest Open venues we play.

So obviously all depending on weather. But it is a solid golf course and I've managed to play the '98 and 2008, I think it was. So it is a golf course that I like. But we'll see how it plays throughout the week.

Q. To what do you attribute your ability to have consistent success at this tournament?
SERGIO GARCIA: I don't know. I've always said that one of the things that -- obviously loving the tournament, itself, and I get so pumped up with the crowds and the kind of golf we have to play here, it obviously helps out. But I've always said that consistency is one of my greatest attributes throughout my career. And of course I could have won more, but I think the consistency I've had for the last 19 years or 18, 19 years, is not that easy to do. And I think some people overlook that. So that's pretty much more of the same that I've been able to do in a lot of majors and at The Open. Hopefully I can make that even better this week.

Q. After Jon Rahm winning in Ireland and Rafa at the Scottish Open, Spain is now for a links hat trick. How amazing would that be? And the strength of Spanish golf at the moment?
SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, it would be amazing. I think that -- you guys have probably seen my Tweets and everything that it's so great to have not only that, but Muguruza winning at Wimbledon, too. So Spanish sports it's at a good stage. It's been up there for a while. And obviously Rafa winning Roland Garros.

So it's been a fun year for Spanish sports, but for Spanish golf it's been great. I want to say it's probably the winningest year we've had on Spanish golf, between the PGA Tour and the European Tour, or one of them. So it's very exciting to see that, to see guys that you're friendly with winning and fellow countrymen doing great things. So we're going to try to keep it as much as possible.

Q. In the past 25, 30 years this championship has produced the most older winners. Do you have any theories on why this championship produces more older winners than the other three majors?
SERGIO GARCIA: I don't know. Am I old enough? All right. I like that.

I don't know, I guess these kind of courses probably don't require something that maybe a U.S. Open or a PGA, where you have to hit the ball much farther.

Here if the course is playing fast and firm like Turnberry -- for example, when Tom Watson almost won, it was playing fast. And he was able to drive the ball pretty much in the same spots wherever, because we had to hit it to a spot, to not get to some of the bunkers, and he was able to hit to the same spot. And maybe being soft, if he would have not been able to hit shorter clubs like he did. And that's why he had a chance, and almost won it.

So I think that it just kind of mixes up well with the kind of golf courses, and also weather-wise, you have to be a little bit more creative when the weather gets bad. And I think that probably all guys with a bit more experience in those conditions have a little bit of a better chance.

Q. Was this the one you grew up dreaming of winning? And if so, why?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I grew up dreaming of winning all of them. But, yes, the European is the one you relate to probably -- the better or the closest, because I remember in Spain as a kid, we couldn't see the Masters on TV. They would not show it. The British Open, you could see it here and there, and also it was during the day. And when you're ten years old, your parents don't allow you to stay until 11 or 12 at night watching TV.

So I think that, yeah, you do kind of really relate to this one a little bit more. But, like I said, I would love to -- I did and I still do love to have all four for sure.

Q. Of the two Opens that you finished second to Irishmen at Carnoustie and Hoylake, if you could go back and take a mulligan on the back nine, which would you take and what would you change?
SERGIO GARCIA: Obviously if you want me to answer that I can, but they're ifs. I've gone through my head and I think in '15 when Rory won, I probably would like to hit the tee shot on 15 again, on the par-3. I did finish birdie, par, birdie after that, but obviously keep that finish there, too.

And then in 2007, it's tough to say. I could take a mulligan on the putt. Maybe I could take a mulligan on -- maybe on the tee shot, try to hit more club and leave myself a shorter club in. And if we hit in the bunker, we hit in the bunker. But I did what I thought was best both moments and unfortunately they didn't work out. Somebody else played a little bit better than me, and that's what happens.

Q. What do you think it is about Spanish golf, is it the Federation, is it the weather or is it Spanish temperament that does it?
SERGIO GARCIA: I'd say it's Spanish class (laughing).

No, obviously the weather helps. There's no doubt that pretty much every part of Spain you can play throughout the year, which is not as easy to do in many other countries. So that obviously helps.

But I think it's the combination of the talent that we've been able to have and the charisma and the way -- the passion that we have. So if you mix all those three things together it helps out, even though we're not a big, in reasonable terms, we're not a big golf country, if you might call it that way. So I think that that's something to be very proud of.

Q. The last seven winners of majors have been first-time champions, why is that, do you think? And do you expect, if you don't win this week, do you expect that trend could continue this week?
SERGIO GARCIA: I think it's nice. I think it's nice to see. I don't know. I don't know why. I think that it's just one of those waves that happen. It's nice to see that. I would love to stop that trend, like I'm sure a lot of other guys would love to do the same thing. But it shows the quality of golf that everybody plays at right now. It's a really high level, and it doesn't matter if you've won a major or not, everybody can definitely do it. So that's good to see.

Q. Padraig was asked about The Open just last week, and he said he'd be very happy to see you win an Open Championship. After what he said after your meeting at Rory McIlroy's wedding, that you look for the best in each other rather than some of the negatives things in the past. What are some of the things that you admire in Padraig Harrington or you might like to emulate in him that might help you this week in links golf and winning an Open?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, everybody is different. With all due respect, if I tried to be like Harrington, it's probably not going to work for me, because our personalities are totally different. But I think that -- but I've always said, the patience that he has obviously helps. He's a hard worker. We all are. But he's probably even more. But like I said, we all have the things that makes it stick, and if you try to make him play the way I play, it's probably not going to work for him. And if I tried to play the way he plays, it's probably not going to work for me.

I saw last week he was coming back from injury and he had a good week. So obviously he must be excited about it. And it's a course where he won in 2008. So we'll see what we're both able to do throughout the week.

MIKE WOODCOCK: Thank you for joining us. Best of luck this week.

SERGIO GARCIA: Thank you.

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