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SAUDI INTERNATIONAL POWERED BY SBIA

January 29, 2019

Sergio Garcia

King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia

STEVE TODD: Very pleased to be joined by Sergio Garcia. Sergio, welcome.

SERGIO GARCIA: Thank you.

STEVE TODD: Great way to start the new year last week. Good performance in Dubai. Just give us your thoughts on the state of the game coming into this week.

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, it's been a couple of nice weeks to start the year in Singapore and obviously last week in Dubai with a couple Top 10s.

Yeah, excited about it. The game feels pretty good. I'm excited about, you know, the new equipment with Callaway. Yeah, hopefully we'll keep the run going this week.

Q. How pleasing is that after the good form to end the year last year, just to keep it going?
SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, obviously we finished the year nicely last year with just before The Ryder Cup, Ryder Cup and what happened after. It's nice to see that the game is in the same shape. Obviously there's still a little bit of rust in there that we need to get rid of that and will go as the week goes on and as we feel the game a little bit more.

But other than that, I feel like I'm swinging quite well. You know, obviously the short game could improve a little bit; it always can, but overall, I'm pretty pleased.

Q. Obviously you've not had much of a chance to see the golf course yet but just your initial impressions of the backdrop and the facilities we have here?
SERGIO GARCIA: It looks beautiful. It looks really, really nice. I'm excited to go out there later on and play nine holes and get a feel for the course a little bit. See how it's playing. You know, saw a couple of holes here and there and they looked really nice.

Q. You've travelled around the world and visited a lot of countries. Do you still get excited by new challenges, and now that you've got a kid, could you really believe how good this game has been to you in terms of the opportunities it's thrown up?
SERGIO GARCIA: Oh, for sure, there's no doubt about that. It is always exciting to come to a new place and experience something new and different.

So we always try to grow the game as much as possible. Obviously this week is a good opportunity to do it here in Saudi, a place that we've never been to. You know, hopefully we'll put on a good show, the people will enjoy it, not only here but all around the world and they will be able to see Saudi Arabia and what the country brings. Hopefully it will be a nice week for everyone.

Q. You've played some impressive golf in Dubai two years ago. How impressive was Bryson's performance at the weekend?
SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, I think not only the weekend, I think the whole week. Obviously I played with him the first two rounds, and you can see that he's playing with a lot of confidence. He's just riding a great wave. Obviously the couple of shots he missed here and there, he got a way with them and he's playing really well.

So when you're playing well and you're putting well, it's usually a pretty good combination to have. So I will expect him to do well here this week again.

Q. Have you ever figured out what air density is?
SERGIO GARCIA: Excuse me, what are we talking about? (Laughing). I think I'm too old for that now. If I was 20 or 21, maybe I could rebuild my game for that.

You know, it's great. I think that we all have our way of doing it or getting it done, and he has his and it works for him obviously. So you know, it's good for him and you know, I try to do it the way I know how to do it best. That's all that matters.

Q. It's kind of interesting that when you changed over from when you went to Callaway, it takes a little while to make those adjustments generally, is that fair to say?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I think it depends. I think it depends a little bit on the player but also it depends what company you go to. Obviously I went from a good company to a great company, so I wasn't going to a company that I didn't know if they had good material or not.

I knew that I was going to a great golf company with really good quality, and when it comes down to the way they work, the people they have working, the way they treat you, and more than anything, you know, the quality of the equipment they have.

Yeah, that's always a little bit of a question mark because you've been with a company for so many years, but those questions kind of got answered quickly as soon as I worked with them.

Q. I just bring it up because I'm surprised that Justin last week played obviously very well in San Diego with equipment that he had taken some time to get used to, but still, you never know until you're under the gun, do you.
SERGIO GARCIA: Yes, but the same thing. Obviously Justin has done his studies over there, and he's seen what they can offer him. He obviously likes what he has, and you know, it showed last week. It showed how well he played, and obviously to win the way he did in Torrey Pines, it's impressive.

Q. One other thing. This field is relatively strong for the first time in Saudi Arabia. A win here, to any player, obviously is important, but what does it mean when you figure out all the different players that are here and how good the field is?
SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, any win, any win is good. It doesn't matter I've always said it, it doesn't matter where or against who. Winning nowadays is tough anywhere in the world.

I think more and more, you know, players now come out and they look like they have been playing out here for five or ten years.

But obviously, when you are playing against these kind of the quality of this field, obviously it means a little bit more, and not only personally, but you know, when it comes down to World Ranking points and stuff like that. It would be obviously a very nice thing to do and that's what we're going to try to do.

Q. As one of the European Tour's most senior players, can you give us your views on what happened to Haotong Li on Sunday, and did it please you that Keith Pelley seemed to go to the R&A and ask for a little bit of discretion for the rules officials over these new rules?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, obviously I didn't know this until I read it afterwards later that night on Sunday.

It's what it is. The Rules of Golf are there for everyone, and it doesn't matter, you know, or it shouldn't matter who breaks them, even though they weren't trying or anything like that. Everybody has got their books and they showed all the new rules and the things that you can and cannot do.

I understand it's the beginning of the year and some of them, you have to be careful because if you don't think about it, you might go back to what you've been doing your whole life. But you know, I'm sure that from now on, it won't happen to him again. It's not the right way to learn it, but it's the hard way, but I'm sure it won't happen to him again because he'll be careful what he does.

You know, it's unfortunate, but it's the Rules of Golf.

Q. Is it good that Keith's trying to look after the players and that he's gone to the R&A and said, let's look at it, and said can there be a bit of flexibility, or as he said, a bit of leeway, type thing.
SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, I mean, it is always nice for Keith to look after us. But at the same time, you know, you've got to be careful because if you start making exceptions here and there, then where do you stop.

So at the end of the day, when it comes down to the rules, we are responsible, we and the officials and we have to take care of it. If you make a mistake, you get penalized and that's it. I've always said it; I'd rather get penalized if I've done something wrong than get away with it and know that I've done wrong.

I don't know if there's other people that can live with that, but for me, it's tough to know that I've done something wrong and kind of let me get away with it. I think that it's okay. I think as the year goes on, everybody will be paying a little bit more attention to it and they will be a little bit more careful with what they do.

Q. Have you had a similar situation
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I lost the tournament in Australia, yeah. It was awhile back. The Greg Norman tournament that he made there, I lost to Aaron Baddeley because I took a wrong drop. I asked Greg to help me with the drop, and it turned out that I took the wrong drop and then I think I ended up losing in a playoff.

But it's what it is. It's happened to all of us, and you've just got to accept it.

Q. Obviously last year was not exactly performance wise what you wanted. Coming off winning Augusta was huge. How do you look at this year and what are you looking for? What are trying you to accomplish, except for obviously being in the winner's circle?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, funny enough, if you take away three months of the year, it was a great year. If you really look at it hard and straight at it, other than those three months; unfortunately, they were three very important months with the majors in the middle and stuff.

But if you look at my first three, three and a half months of the year and my last four months of the year, they were great: A lot of Top 10s, two wins. Obviously Ryder Cup. Ryder Cup victory with Europe. The points record with Europe in Ryder Cup history.

Other than that, other than those three months, it was a very solid year. When I looked at it, I just don't want those three months to happen again. You can have a couple weeks here and there that you slip up a little bit but you can't let it ride for that long, and that's never happened in my career. I don't want it to happen again. So that's what I'm going to focus on and make sure that I keep practicing hard and playing hard and try to keep the consistency that I've always had through my career.

Q. Do you feel because you won a major, that you have different expectations of yourself, as well as us and the media have different expectations of you now that you've won a major?
SERGIO GARCIA: I don't know. I mean, I know what I want to do, I know what I want to achieve. Obviously my expectations are different, yes, because now I want to win my second major. I don't want to win my first one, because I've already had that one.

So you know, it's fine. At the end of the day, like I've always said, I want to keep being consistent. I want to try to keep improving in all aspects of the game for me, and give myself chances at winning tournaments and winning majors. That's what I've done my whole career and that's what I want to keep doing. Then it's just a matter of, you know, something that great week at the right time and hopefully lift another one of the big ones.

Q. Hopefully it's still a bit far away, but do you see your Ryder Cup captaincy, if you have one, hopefully, being in America or Europe?
SERGIO GARCIA: I don't even I don't even want to think about it yet. You know, I'm hoping that physically, mentally and game wise, I'm going to be good for a few more.

You know, when that time comes, I'll think about it and I'll make a decision, but it's not something that I'm focused on at the moment. I'm still fairly young, I want to say (laughter).

STEVE TODD: Thank you, Sergio.

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