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THE PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP

March 22, 2000

Sergio Garcia

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLORIDA

JOAN V.T. ALEXANDER: We'd like to welcome Sergio Garcia into the interview room. Sergio, I understand this is your first visit to the PGA TOUR Headquarters. First time to play TPC at Sawgrass. How is your practice round? You are looking forward.

SERGIO GARCIA: I am really looking forward. It is a great place. The course is awesome and perfect shape. And I have never had the chance of playing here, and I am really looking forward to that. I think it is a great challenge. It is a tough course. And you really have to play -- you have to hit the ball really straight from the tees, and you have to pitch it on the perfect spot on the greens, because, if not, if you go a little long or if you miss it on the wrong side of the green, you are going to have some very difficult up-and-downs.

JOAN V.T. ALEXANDER: Questions.

Q. You played a practice round yesterday with Tiger. Is that friendship really budding now?

SERGIO GARCIA: I think we have been good buddies since probably Masters. We are getting a good relationship, and it is always great to play with him or Mark O'Meara, one of these guys.

Q. How does that help you?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, it helps. Of course it helps. But what helps is I have never played this course, so Mark and him, they have played this course and John Cook too, we played with him too, they know this course. And they told me how to, you know, to take care of a couple of things, and on the golf course. And I will have that in my mind and try to play my best.

Q. Colin was in here earlier and said that after Tiger shot 69 at Bay Hill in the first round and was 1 off the lead, that there was a feeling in the locker room that the tournament was over and it was essentially a matter of who was going to finish second. Did you get that sense at all?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I was -- I would say I was minding my business. But right now it is tough. And if you -- if he starts well, you know he is going to be there because -- sometimes I would say he is incredible, because second round, Mike Weir goes, shoots 64, it was good day to shoot a low score. But you got to go out there and shoot it. He comes right behind and shoot another 64 to be leading, so, it is like he is not giving us too many chances. But you know, I think we can, we should all play better. And I think that should help us and improve our games, and hopefully we will get him.

Q. There are a lot of players who have gone up against Tiger, finished second, who have said great things about him that they go on and on about how great he is. Is that smart to do? At some point, could it be detrimental, harmful for you to keep saying, "This guy is the greatest," knowing that you got to go out and beat him at some point?

SERGIO GARCIA: I have always said he is the greatest right now. But I don't think he is unbeatable. You can beat him. It is tough, but you can. You just have to play your best game, and -- but I don't know if it is for a golfer, for an opponent, it is the best thing or not to -- I would say when you are going to play with him on the last round, you shouldn't say too many good things, because then you are giving him more excitement and you are kind of going a little down. So you have to trust in yourself and just try to go out there and play your best, and knowing that he is a great player and you really have to play well to beat him.

Q. What has been the easiest or most fun thing about being over here, and what has been the toughest?

SERGIO GARCIA: I don't know. Everything has been good. I would say the toughest is that I haven't really started really well this year. But it is all fun. I have a great time here. I enjoy playing golf. It is a great place to play golf, and -- well, you know, when I am three or four weeks at home, last week I am thinking, well, I want to go and play with these guys there and try to win some tournaments. So when you take like two or three weeks off, you kind of miss it at the end. There is a lot of good things here. There is a couple of bad things, too, like in every single place.

Q. You joked at the Byron Nelson about you liked the girls in Dallas, just different things like that - I am not trying to draw you in, I just, you know, McDonald's or, I mean, just different things like that, I don't know.

SERGIO GARCIA: No, I like McDonald's. I try not to eat many burgers. Once in a while, when I -- oh, I like to eat a burger. I eat it, but I try not to eat too many. I have said there is plenty of great things. As I said, plenty of times where all the girls are great and people is great too, courses are beautiful. And, you know, just the whole thing, the whole package is good.

Q. From both a mental and golf standpoint how difficult is it for any player to be at his best both this week and again in two weeks at Augusta?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, it is tough. But you know, that is why we are here. I mean, if you can only play one good one in the whole year, that is not really, I would say a great player, so we are here because we know -- we are going to have our up-and-downs, but hopefully we are going to have more ups than downs. So it is tough to be 100% on two great tournaments like this one is and The Masters.

Q. When you have two fields as strong and two tournaments as good, is it good to somebody as close together as they are?

SERGIO GARCIA: I think some -- I love to have this field and this kind of tournament every single week. It would be great. But I think it is always good to have great tournaments. Most of the tournaments are really good, but you have some that are better than others. And, well, this one is one. Masters is another one. All four majors and this one are really good. You always try to be as sharp as you can to play this kind of tournaments.

Q. How much different are things now to what they were last year when every new tournament was a fresh experience, everything was new to you, you seemed fairly excited every time you stepped onto the tee; has it change this year?

SERGIO GARCIA: Not really. Right now, here, I would say this has been pretty fresh too because, well, most of the courses I am playing I have never played them. Most of the tournaments I am playing I have never played them, and I will start repeating after the Spanish Open. So it is pretty fresh too. I don't think it has changed much. Maybe a little bit, but not much. But it is still a lot of fun, and we are trying to have a good time out there.

Q. You are coming up on your one full year as a professional. What has been your greatest accomplishment, winning on the European Tour or your playing the Ryder Cup?

SERGIO GARCIA: Both.

Q. Pick one.

SERGIO GARCIA: I would say winning on Tour because that got me into the Ryder Cup.

Q. With The Masters just a few weeks away, what are your thoughts heading into that, and will you be doing anything this week with your game to change to work on to prepare for Augusta?

SERGIO GARCIA: No, this week you have to concentrate on this tournament, because I think this tournament deserves, I would say, the concentration -- a lot of concentration. It is a tough course, and it is a great tournament. It is probably -- well, everybody is calling it the fifth major. And I consider myself that you can call it the fifth major. You have to take care of your business here, and then I am going to have a week off, forget about this week, then start thinking about The Masters. But right now, you have to concentrate on this tournament and play as well as you can.

Q. Are you finding the celebrity of it all is easy to handle, or are you really getting it, you know, you got so much publicity when you came over last year, the jump at the PGA, the Ryder Cup, now the Titleist commercial, are people recognizing you; are they -- is it good? Is it bad?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, you know, not really, no, it is good. They don't really recognize me much. Last week I was at Universal Studios, and I spent probably like two and a half hours or three hours there, and probably five persons recognized me. So it is pretty good. And not to be thinking I can't go out there without being recognized and without having to spend time with everybody and just can do what I want to do. So it is not that kind of fact that I have, and I had a great time there at Universal. And I love to be recognized when I am out there, but not much. Kind of like that. A couple of people recognize you and you say, "Hi, how are you doing," or sign an autograph or whatever, but that is enough. You are out on the golf course and trying to have a good time as anybody else. You try to be the same person as the guy who is right behind you or right in front of you. You try to be just as him, because you think, I mean, out of the golf course, we are just a normal person.

Q. What was your favorite ride? Did you go on the Tower of Terror?

SERGIO GARCIA: Not really. I didn't -- I don't really like that. I love roller coasters. I went to the Hawk (sic) and to the Double Dragons, or something like that it is called. And I loved the Spiderman, I really enjoyed it. It is also one of my favorite cartoons. I don't know how you say it, actors or whatever it is. So I really had a great time there with the 3-Ds; it was a lot of fun.

Q. How has hiring your new caddie helped you?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, he helped me. We are trying to go well together. It is tough because it is a lot of changing, but we are doing our best. And it looks like it's taking a little time, but we are trying to do the best we can.

Q. What are your plans exactly for next week?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, practice a little, and I don't know. I am not going to tell you. I don't want to have the media around. So just relax and practice.

Q. Where are you going to practice?

SERGIO GARCIA: I am not going to tell you where, just in case.

Q. Last week, when you spoke at Bay Hill, you were looking forward to coming here and playing this tournament, and you hadn't seen the golf course at that time but you heard a lot of things about it. Is it as difficult or as challenging or fun or unusual --

SERGIO GARCIA: It is pretty tough. It is tough. The rough is pretty thick and the greens were -- when they get firm, they are going to be really tough to hit. There is a lot of slopes in the greens, and most of them are pretty narrow. So you have to be very accurate and you have to spin the ball pretty well to keep it on the greens. I think it is a great course. It is very challenging, as I said before. And just seeing what they won last year, the score that they won 3-under par, I have always said that those kind of tournaments are the ones I like. The ones you really in between 10-under and, I don't know, 2-, or 3-under.

Q. Looking forward to playing a particular hole or not?

SERGIO GARCIA: Of course, all of them. Of course, 17 it would be great to play. And it would be better if I am able to hit it on the green and make four birdies or something like that.

Q. Anything in specific that you feel like is close to getting good in your game? You said you were disappointed with the tough start this year. Obviously things -- what is going on?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, they are getting better. I am hitting the ball better, and the start always is a little tough. You are a little rusty, and some places spend more time to get your game. But it was really my first start as a pro, so, you know, I think it is getting a little better. But at the beginning, it was a little tough. But we have been practicing with my dad working on my game. I feel much more comfortable hitting the ball now, and hopefully I start really shooting good scores.

Q. Did you hit the green the first time you played 17?

SERGIO GARCIA: Yes. Yeah, well the green was soft, so it wasn't that difficult.

Q. Jesper said playing with you in the Ryder Cup was about the most fun he has ever had on the golf course. Do you feel the same way and can you compare your personalities?

SERGIO GARCIA: Yes, it was a lot of fun. Jesper is a great guy and we made -- I think we made a very good team. I don't know, his personality, he is a great guy, as I say, he is a lot of fun and you know, well, his family is great too. As a person, I would say he is maybe sometimes a little kind of strange, a little different. But everybody has his own way of being and I respect the way he is and I like him. He is very good and we -- every time we have played together we had a lot of fun. I think we get along pretty good.

Q. Did he tell you and the rest of the team about the heart problem?

SERGIO GARCIA: No, I just -- the first time I knew was when I read it on the newspaper. If I would have known, I wouldn't be so (indicating)--

Q. Exactly.

SERGIO GARCIA: I wouldn't be so (indicating)....

JOAN V.T. ALEXANDER: Thank you, Sergio.

End of FastScripts….

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