November 14, 2017
NEIL AHERN: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for joining us. Delighted to be joined at the table here by Sergio GarcÃa. Sergio, thanks for taking the time to join us in here today.
The Race to Dubai, it's the final tournament, and you need a minimum of a victory, but you've done it three times already this year.
SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, unfortunately that's not enough. No, but it's good. It's been a great year. Obviously excited about this week and get to hopefully give it a run. Obviously it's very difficult to become The Race to Dubai winner, but it doesn't mean that we're not going to give everything we have this week and see where we end up.
NEIL AHERN: You've had three very special victories this year in their own right, one here in Dubai, and obviously your most recent event, your home event. Give us your reflections on the year so far.
SERGIO GARCIA: Like I said, it's been a wonderful year, not only on but off the golf course. Excited for these last few weeks of the year, obviously trying some new equipment, which is also exciting. I've got to put some good work on it and get some good feelings, some good sensations on it throughout these next few weeks and hopefully we'll be ready and going for the next season.
NEIL AHERN: You've been out on the course. Can you tell us how it's looking?
SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, the course is looking good. A couple of the fairways are looking better than the last few years. The greens are nice. They are rolling nicely. They are not too firm at the moment but the course, a couple new lines. I think they have narrowed a lot of the fairways from last year.
So a couple of the spots where you used to be in the fairway, now it's rough. So you have to be careful with that because it's easy to forget. But other than that, it's good.
Q. Three wins this year, as you say, and the first major title and yet you've got to change equipment. Why do professional players insist on doing this after one of the best years of your career?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, it wasn't only my decision. So obviously, you know, spent 15 years with TaylorMade, but unfortunately things come to an end.
I'm looking for another great company to join with and be excited, and more than anything, see excitement on their faces, not only on mine. You know, so that's -- this case, obviously I'm trying some Callaway stuff, and what I've been trying feels great. It's a great company. So it's not like I'm going to a company that is unknown or anything like that.
I'm excited about what's coming, and you know, it should be fun.
Q. Just a question on The Race to Dubai. Obviously it's quite a surprise in some ways that you haven't won it before. Are there any regrets that you didn't sort of change your schedule to chase a few points?
SERGIO GARCIA: Not at all. Not at all. I have more -- I mean, winning The Race to Dubai is great but I'm not going to change my whole life for it. I had some important things that I needed to take care of, and you know, that's not going to change. I'm happy finishing second, third or fourth or whatever I finish at the end of the week.
Q. From the outside, it would seem a surprise that your contract would come to an end after you're seeming at the height of your powers after such a season. What's your thoughts on it?
SERGIO GARCIA: No, I guess all companies change, and the politics with TaylorMade have changed now after leaving Adidas. We couldn't come to an agreement. So I understand that it's also difficult when you have so many top players, to keep all of them. You know, unfortunately we were in that package.
Like I said earlier, I'm excited for what's coming. I'm excited to see the excitement in probably a new equipment company, and it should be fun. So you know, they are willing to work really hard for me, and that also means a lot.
Q. What are the pitfalls for you to watch this week after playing with one set of equipment for 15 years, moving to another one; the dangers, pitfalls, problems.
SERGIO GARCIA: To be totally honest, what I've been working on with the last couple of weeks, it's felt great. So I don't see any major changes.
It's just a matter of seeing how it feels on the golf course during a tournament, and distance control, those kind of things that we need. By what we've been doing, it's felt great. So I don't think it should be any problems there.
Q. Just on that, can I check, have you signed with Callaway officially?
SERGIO GARCIA: Not yet. But obviously it's kind of -- at the moment, it the company that is in front of the other ones.
Q. Just on The Race to Dubai, you obviously have to win, but you know what has to happen with Justin and Tommy for you --
SERGIO GARCIA: You know, I don't even know. It doesn't really bother me. What I'm going to do, I'm not going to change the way I go out there.
What I'm going to do is I'm going to go out there and try to do what I do every week, which is to play the best I can play and give myself the best option of winning this week. I can't control what the other people do. Obviously both Tommy and Justin are playing really well.
So I mean, I'm not expecting them to finish 40th or 50th. You know, it's really -- to be totally honest, I see a two percent Chang of me winning The Race to Dubai, but I'm fine with it. I can live with it. It's been a great year, and that's not going to change.
Q. If it did come to pass, if it did happen, what would it mean?
SERGIO GARCIA: It would be amazing. But like I said earlier, even if it doesn't happen, it doesn't mean that my year is going to be -- is not going to be as good as it's been.
Q. Are you almost surprised you've still got a chance, because if you do win, Justin needs a top four, and Tommy needs a Top-20; so it's not like it's a total impossibility.
SERGIO GARCIA: I thought it was worse than that. But no, I mean, obviously, I'm going to go out there and I'm going to play the best I can.
I'm going to keep working like I've been saying all year, and like I said at Valderrama, keep challenging myself, keep putting myself in situations to test myself and try to overcome those situations the best way possible. Not only for this week and this year, but for what's coming in the future.
You know, we'll see at the end of the week, we'll see what happens.
Q. You hit the ball long and straight, which should suit this golf course. Why isn't your record here better?
SERGIO GARCIA: I don't know. I guess it's probably not one of my favourite golf courses that we play all year, so that probably doesn't help on my behalf. But it doesn't mean, like you say, it doesn't mean that I shouldn't be able to do well.
Obviously I've had some good weeks here, but I haven't probably had weeks as well as I probably should have. But you know, we'll try to make that happen this week.
Q. It was the equipment; TaylorMade equipment doesn't work here.
SERGIO GARCIA: Hopefully Callaway does (laughter).
Q. What are the hallmarks, what are the things that stand out about Tommy's game and about Justin's game?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I mean, Justin is pure, solid. There's not really many weak spots that you could find on his game. He's solid off the tee. He's a very good iron player. I think his putting would be the weakest thing, but I think he's been putting really, really well throughout the year and lately more than anything, and his chipping is also good. He's very, very solid.
I think Tommy is a very consistent player. I think that he's improved a lot as we've all season. I think he's able to handle the pressure much better now than maybe in the past. You know, his short game has taken a step forward.
So you know, when your long game is fairly good and your short game becomes, you know, a couple steps better, then it makes for a good combination.
NEIL AHERN: Now we'll take a few questions from Twitter.
Q. What would you say has been your main strength throughout your career that's constantly kept you amongst the top players in the world?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, just simple is consistency. You know, I've been fortunate to be healthy for pretty much my whole career. I've been very consistent. My long game is very consistent throughout my career, and that's kept me always at a good level.
So, you know, it's been a combination of those things.
Q. From Mr. Twanger on Twitter: What are you looking to do --
SERGIO GARCIA: Excuse me? Mr. Who?
Q. Mr. Twanger. What are you looking to do in the off-season?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, rest, rest up, a little bit of practise obviously. We started the season in San Diego in the third week of January, but we'll have probably about five or six weeks off.
So a little bit of rest, enjoy my family, enjoy my wife and the little belly, and just kind of work a little bit on my game and make sure that it's as sharp as possible in San Diego.
Q. Is your mind-set, have you found, any different on the golf course being a Major Champion? Have you noticed any difference in the way you feel or the way you think when you're out there?
SERGIO GARCIA: No, I don't think so. I think that obviously we've been working hard on different aspects of the game. Not only physically, but mentally.
I'm not going to lie; obviously winning the Masters and Dubai and Valderrama, it always helps because you know how you felt and you know how you were thinking and those kind of things, and it gives you extra confidence. So that obviously, it's a plus.
But I don't feel different when I walk on the golf course. I don't walk taller. I don't look at people differently because I've won a major now. So not really, I guess.
Q. Changing equipment, which is the most difficult club to get right in the bag?
SERGIO GARCIA: I would say probably the most difficult thing to kind of fit into your game would be the golf ball when you play with a golf ball for quite a while.
You know, what we've been testing, the numbers have been really good with the balls that Callaway has brought to me. Now it's just a matter of trying it on the golf course and trying it on tournament play, and seeing how it reacts and seeing how it feels. Then if there's any changes that need to be made, then we have time in the off-season to get it sorted out. Hopefully we won't have to.
Q. Is there a Spanish Sportsperson of the Year contest, and if, so how would you rate your chances in this amazing year for Spanish sport?
SERGIO GARCIA: I don't know, obviously I would definitely be behind Rafa. But you know, hopefully I will be inside the top five, I would hope.
I don't know, I've been receiving some nice trophies and, you know, those kind of things from around the area where I live or where I'm from in Spain. I know there's one next year that is global, but you know, I think I've done fairly well. I probably haven't been the No. 1 sportsman in Spain. We're fortunate; we have a lot of good ones.
Q. Just on that, is that the freedom of the city or the town, that kind of thing, that you'll be getting from the local area?
SERGIO GARCIA: Excuse me?
Q. Have you been awarded sort of the freedom of the city or the town where you're from? Is that the kind of thing you're referring to?
SERGIO GARCIA: What do you mean, the freedom?
NEIL AHERN: The key to the city.
SERGIO GARCIA: No. It's just like press, awards from the press, things like that. Like best sportsman from the area where I'm from and a couple of things like that, which is always nice to receive those kind of awards.
Q. Press awards are very highly prized.
SERGIO GARCIA: I know. Don't worry, I know (laughter). You don't give them for free.
Q. Just to clarify on the equipment, so is this the first tournament you've had the full bag of new equipment? Is this the first time in tournament play?
SERGIO GARCIA: Yes. Yes, it is.
Q. What's the global award next year you're going to get?
SERGIO GARCIA: No, no. Obviously next year, they are doing every year, there's like sports awards in Spain, like nationally. And I know they are doing them next year, and I think I've been mentioned for one of them. I don't know if it's Sportsman of the Year. I doubt it, because I would -- I mean, I would give it to Rafa Nadal if it was myself. But I haven't really been in Spain that much, so I don't know exactly how it is.
Q. There may be awards from us.
SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, those are always great (smiling) they are not easy to get those.
NEIL AHERN: Best of luck this week, Sergio.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports