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THE HONDA CLASSIC

February 20, 2018

Sergio Garcia

Palm Beach Gardens, Florida

DOUG MILNE: We'd like to welcome Sergio Garcia to The Honda Classic. Sergio, thanks for joining us, making your first start of the 2017-2018 PGA TOUR season but eighth start here at the Honda where you've had a number of good finishes, including runner-up in 2016.

So with that said, just a couple thoughts on starting your season out here at The Honda Classic this week.

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, really excited. Obviously it's a big week, a tournament that I've always enjoyed playing, a great golf course, really, really a ball-striker's kind of golf course, which I've always enjoyed.

So yeah, starting the season here a little bit later than usual, but you know, I'm really looking forward to it. Obviously we had a good start of the year in Singapore and Dubai with all the new equipment and Callaway and everything. I'm looking forward to it.

Q. Can you go through a little bit about the process of changing equipment, how difficult was it? Did you take to it right away and what was the most difficult right away?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, fortunate enough, it was very easy. It was very easy I think for a couple of reasons. One of them, I moved to a great company that makes great equipment, and second of all, usually I get used to new equipment quite easily, even in my old brand. I used to be one of the first ones to change the new equipment.

So it hasn't been a stressful move or anything like that. I really love the golf ball. I think the golf ball, I think for me it's been a step forward from last -- from the past years.

You know, the equipment is top shape. So I'm really excited about some of the things I've seen with practice and the beginning of the year and everything. So I'm looking forward to it.

Q. Have you given much consideration to how much your schedule will change or look with impending fatherhood?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, hopefully it won't change much because that means that everything will go right, and that's what you wish for. But you know, the way I look at it, obviously a lot of people have been asking me, Oh, you know, are you going to take a month off, two months off after the little girl is born, and I said, well, the problem of doing that is that then I have to make those two months off later in the year and I don't want to spend two months away from home later in the year, when Angela is also going to need me and the little girl, too.

There is a possibility of maybe missing one of the tournaments that I have scheduled, but you know, that can be kind of made up. Like I said, you know, if everything goes well, fingers crossed, it shouldn't change too much.

Q. Do you have a name picked out?
SERGIO GARCIA: We do. I don't know if you do but we do (laughter). You'll find out soon enough.

Q. Just wonder what the last portion of this year has been like since Augusta, and what it's done to your motivation and your hunger. Do you remain as hungry as you were prior to it, and having a taste, where has it taken you?
SERGIO GARCIA: For sure, I was hungry or hungrier than I was before. It doesn't change. That was one of the things that probably kind of probably affected -- I wouldn't say affected me, but it put a little bit of a hold on, you know, after the Masters, from the of THE PLAYERS till probably the middle of the Playoffs, the FedExCup Playoffs. I wanted to do well so badly I didn't want to be like, now that we won the Masters, you relax and you start missing cuts and finishing 60th all week and things like that.

I wanted to do so badly that that's why my game would be very good a couple of rounds, and then a couple of rounds will be not quite as good, for putting that extra pressure. And then when I started to kind of relax and say, you know, just keep doing what you're doing, you're playing well, you're playing great, just trust it and keep at it. That's when things started coming along a little bit easier, like early on in the year and had a great finish of the year.

Obviously had a good start of the year in Asia and the Middle East. So I'm looking forward to keep building on that. I had some good practices the past three weeks, and I'm excited to get on a run and hopefully get some good momentum to start the year.

Q. It's been ten months since you did get that breakthrough, the Masters victory. Just wondering, was it everything you thought it was going to be?
SERGIO GARCIA: No, it was probably more. There's been so many amazing stories and memories that I've been able to go through or experience since winning the Masters, and I tell everyone that one of the things that surprised me the most was I've been fortunate enough to play the Masters, I think it's 19 or 20 times now, and you know how big the Masters is. You go there and you see the excitement in people and everything.

But I've realized this year after winning it, and being able to travel around the world with a green jacket and taking it to different parts in Europe and obviously Germany and Spain and the U.K., and going to Hong Kong and Australia and obviously in Singapore at the beginning of the year; you realize how much bigger it is. When you see the reaction from the people, all parts of the world, when they see the green jacket, when they see with you wearing it, it's amazing.

So it's definitely given me an even higher respect and perspective towards it.

Q. You married into a family that's rich in sports history and I noticed the pin on your cap. Is there something that Angela's late grandfather said that you that rubbed off or a special memory that you have with him?
SERGIO GARCIA: I tell you one thing, I wish I would have met him earlier. He was an amazing, amazing man. He had so many -- for me, he had so many little phrases that he used that were amazing. But for me, the thing that impressed me the most was how quickly he took me on his arm and kind of treated me like I was a grandson.

It was amazing. It was hard to see him pass away in December. You know, what impressed me the most about him was the strength he had at the age he was until obviously cancer kind of took the best out of him. But you know, he was 90 years old and he was stronger than any of us. So that was very impressive and really, really enjoyed meeting him and spending some time.

Q. The forecast is for lots of wind this week. How does that make this course that much tougher and do the Europeans maybe get a little bit of an extra boost because they are used to playing in some wind?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I don't know. I think that nowadays, everybody knows how to play in the wind. Obviously we kind of grow up a little bit more with it, playing around the British Isles and stuff. I think at the end of the day, it's going to make the course even tougher.

We know how challenging it is. If it doesn't rain, it's going to be a really, really challenging week, so you have to be very, very patient, even more than any other week. You know, that's something that it's a good challenge. I enjoy those kind of things. It will be nice to feel good, get on a good run there and have a chance at doing something a little bit better than a couple years ago.

Q. This time last year, you had won the Dubai Desert Classic heading to Augusta. Now having won the Singapore Open, is the game just as good, or if not stronger, with Augusta probably six weeks away?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I mean, at the moment, I feel like -- you never know. Every week is different. But the way I played at the beginning of the year, even in Dubai, I probably scored worse than I should have, quite a bit worse than I should have. But the game feels good. I've had some really good practices the last three weeks.

It depends. You come out here and every week is different and challenging and stuff, but you know, I feel quite comfortable about it, so I'm really excited about that. But you know, Augusta is still a long ways away. There's a lot of tournaments to be played before that, and something even more important to happen before that.

So you know, we don't want to get ahead of ourselves.

Q. How do you generally feel about TOUR stops on creating party holes, a la Phoenix, and what's the specific challenge of the one here at the 17th?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I think it's very touchy. Obviously I think at the end of the day, the most important thing is for the people to realize the difficulty of the hole. Obviously it's not the same standing on the 16th hole at Phoenix where it might get a little bit out of hand, whereas 130 yards or 150 yards with a couple of bunkers and not the most difficult shot in the world that's standing here on 17 with wind and big lake in the front and right of the green, narrow green. You're hitting 7-, 6-, sometimes 5-iron.

I think everything with respect is good for the game. When it gets a little bit out of hand, then it becomes a little bit too much of a party time. You know, at the end of the day, the people have to realize that, yeah, we're trying to make sure they have a good team, but if they are making it harder for us to create good golf, it's tougher for them to enjoy it, too.

Q. You talk about the global impact of that green jacket you have. Can you give us a scene from a faraway place where you have that on and the reaction just kind of floored you?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, like I said, everywhere. Everywhere I've been, it's been amazing. Every single event that we've done, the excitement you see, when you look at the people, it looks like their eyes kind of sparkle when they see it and they touch it and they get a feel for it. It's been amazing.

Obviously to have it at the wedding was unbelievable. To do the honorary kickoff at the Bernabeu Clasico, that was one of the coolest moments I've had in my career.

So to be able to experience the reactions from all kinds of people from different parts of the world, they have been very cool.

Q. When you hear people say, Oh, he's not only going to win one Masters, he's going to one a bunch of them; or one major, or a bunch of them, very talented young players. The way it worked out in your life was waiting 18 years. For Mickelson, it was 12, 13 years. For Monty, he's still waiting. What do you think when you hear stuff like that, when you hear press or public say to really young, talented players: You're going to win such-and-such, when you know this game has got no guarantees?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, it's as simple as that. I think at the end of the day, I've always said it, the most important thing is to be proud and happy about what you're doing, the work you're doing, enjoy what you do. I think that's the most important thing. And then there's times where you get in contention and you win it right away and there's other times where it takes a little bit longer.

For me it took a little bit longer. It doesn't mean -- to be totally honest, I think that -- I mean, I don't want to say that I'm glad it took that long because I wish it would have happened earlier, but there's an aspect of it that I'm really happy about, which is that now, because of waiting that long and trying so many times, I realize how much more important it is and I enjoy it more.

I probably appreciate it even more than if I would have won it -- if I would have won the PGA in '99, it would have been amazing, but I don't think I would appreciate the major win as much as I've done last year and this year at the Masters.

DOUG MILNE: Sergio, as always, we appreciate your time. Best of luck this week.

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