October 30, 2001
TODD BUDNICK: We'd like to welcome Sergio Garcia, who is 10th on the money list to THE TOUR Championship presented by Dynegy. Sergio, why don't you give us a little recap of your year this season.
SERGIO GARCIA: I think it has been a great year. I have played very well all the year since the Byron Nelson. Well, it's just -- it's good to be here. It's my first TOUR Championship, important. Unfortunately, in 1999 I couldn't make it, last year, 1999, because I didn't -- I had to go to Europe, and last year because I didn't play well. It's good to be here. I am very pleased that everything -- that the year has gone this way. I felt I probably could win a couple of more times. But that's why winning is so difficult.
TODD BUDNICK: But you will take your two victories.
SERGIO GARCIA: Of course, my two, and my last victory in Europe have been great. It's just exciting to try to get better and better. Hopefully, we will keep improving.
TODD BUDNICK: Questions.
Q. After your great show at the PGA Championship a couple of years ago, a lot of heavy expectations were put on you. 2000 wasn't what you wanted it to be. But now this year, with the two victories and earning a spot in this tournament, do you feel you kind of answered some critics or validated those expectations that were put on you?
SERGIO GARCIA: No. Well, I think I knew what I wanted to do. I just tried to play the best I could. I think I just had to keep focused. And it's going to happen. You know, when you don't play as well as you wish, I mean, you are going to be criticized by people. But it's just -- you have got to deal with it and just move on. I think that's what I tried to do.
Q. Is that stuff tough, though?
SERGIO GARCIA: It's not easy, but you still got to -- it kind of made me stronger. You always try to take the positive thing from it.
Q. What is the difference between this year and 2000, where have you improved the most?
SERGIO GARCIA: I am improving a lot of things. My driving is very good and I am hitting it very long. My irons have gotten better. More than anything, I am putting better than probably the last couple of years, so I can see that it has been a little improvement in that.
Q. What did you think of the course here today?
SERGIO GARCIA: I think it's a great course. Big greens. Last week I played at Buick Challenge in Callaway Gardens; they were pretty tiny greens. To come here and see probably -- these greens are probably three times bigger than the ones we played last week, so it's nice to see that you have a lot of places to hit into the green. They can get some pretty difficult pin positions on these greens. But I think that it's going to be a good test because the greens are going to be very fast, and the way the slopes and everything, I think it's going to be very nice.
Q. How do you approach this tournament? It's not quite like a major, but it's not like all the other tournaments.
SERGIO GARCIA: I will say it's -- for sure it's one of our biggest with the majors and the TPC and the world events, and this one, they are the top ten tournaments we have on tour. It's great to be able to be here. You just try to give it your best chance and, hopefully, you will come out on top.
Q. Is it time for a fifth major? Like everybody points at, you know, the tournament at TPC. Is it time for another one?
SERGIO GARCIA: To tell you the truth, I don't know. I couldn't tell. The problem is the majors, they have been there for so long, it's tough to just say, okay, here's another one. But I don't know. That's probably not my business.
Q. First of all, does this course suit your game and, because of the big greens and the work around the greens, you will be on it most of the time? How are you putting coming into this Championship?
SERGIO GARCIA: Today I putted very well. If I play well, I think it suits my game, yes. If I don't play well, I have to struggle a little, but I think that it's a great course. You have to drive it well. If you hit it in the rough, it's going to be tough with this Bermuda grass. As the week goes on, the greens are going to get firmer, so it is going to be tougher to stop it on the greens. I think that if I hit the ball okay, you know, I might have a good chance because I feel pretty confident with my putting here.
Q. What is your schedule like after this event up until the Mercedes Championship?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, after this event I am taking one week off. I have to do a couple of things, and then I am going to go and play two in Japan, then one in South Africa. Then I will take the take the week off after that, and then get ready for the Mercedes.
Q. How big was the experience factor in your play from this year?
SERGIO GARCIA: It has been a big help, no doubt about that. You keep learning. You realize that sometimes you do things that you shouldn't do, and I think that things that I have done this year, they are going to help me next year, so I think it's a big factor, and you just got to keep learning from those experiences.
Q. Is that more on the on-course or off-course?
SERGIO GARCIA: I will say both. I will say more than anything on-course. But I will say that a little bit of both too.
Q. Do the players on the tour talk about safety and security in light of what happened in New York? How much discussion is among the players about that?
SERGIO GARCIA: Actually, I haven't really talked much about that. I feel very secure around here. That is why I came, because I didn't feel like I could have any trouble, so it feels very good, actually.
Q. Texas has been good to you, and I notice a lot of people might have seen you play in maybe another tournament this year because they all came up and congratulated you. How is the confidence coming into this tournament?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, it's always great to get those thoughts back and to realize that I have been doing pretty well here in Texas, the Byron Nelson and, of course, Colonial, but this is a new tournament, so you still got to try to, you know, get one shot at a time and give it your best and, hopefully, you will be able to be there for Sunday, as you always try.
Q. How big was this year in relation to everyone narrowing the gap between Tiger and the rest of the tour players? Was there a lot of confidence built this year?
SERGIO GARCIA: I think so. I think that the level of all the whole tour has gone a couple of steps up. It's got a lot closer to where Tiger is, and realized scores and, you know, all the things we have been doing, they have been pretty unbelievable this year.
Q. Was it important to you to have multiple wins this year, to kind of back up what you did at Colonial to win -- (inaudible)
SERGIO GARCIA: It felt great. There's no doubt about that. But I don't know, you always try to win as many as you can and, you know, when I won my first I was very happy and I was thinking, okay, at least we have won one this year. Then when I won the second, I was even happier, but after that, I felt like I could win some more. But unfortunately, I couldn't. But, you know, it just -- it helps to get your confidence in a good level to keep the year going.
Q. Which tournament is harder to win, one with only 30 players, but the best 30 of the year, or one with 144 players in varying degrees of talent?
SERGIO GARCIA: I probably say one with 144 players.
Q. Why so?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, you have more players and more chances of anybody shooting low scores. I think the level in the PGA tour is so great that anybody can win a tournament. When you have 144 players, the odds of winning is more than when you have 30.
Q. Do you change your approach to a tournament where there are only 30 players in the field?
SERGIO GARCIA: Not really. You still got to try to do the same things. You realize there's no cut or anything like that, so that's the only difference, I'd say.
Q. There seems to be three classes of player right now on the PGA TOUR: There's the real young guys, like the Charles Howells, you know, there's the Tiger, David Duval-class guys that had several years experience now and they are still young. Then there's the generation, the 35 and up group. Is there one group that has the distinct advantage over the other?
SERGIO GARCIA: Where am I? (Laughs).
Q. That's a good question. Where are you?
SERGIO GARCIA: Where do you think I am at?
Q. You are kind of borderline. You could kind of be veteran or you could be young --
SERGIO GARCIA: Half and half. (Laughs).
Q. A young veteran.
SERGIO GARCIA: I think that, yeah, there's some young players coming out, like you said like Charles Howell and David Gossett and myself and, you know, in Europe also and other guys, but if you realize enough -- I mean, all the three categories have won this year. I mean, so it's not that only one category is winning all the tournaments. So I think that the level of the tour is very equal to all the players right now. That's the best thing that can happen to a tour so it gets exciting.
Q. When you go back to security a second, you look at what happened on September 11 and increased concerns, at the same time you guys want to be accessible to the fans. But is the autograph seeking getting a little out of control?
SERGIO GARCIA: No. I realize that the people really want our autographs, and they deserve them. Of course, there's some guys out there that -- just looking for that, for autographs to sell and stuff like that. But what can you do about that? I think that -- you know, the people, I think, is doing great, and they have been behind us, and we always have to thank the fans because if it wasn't for them, we wouldn't be here.
Q. No worries about some crazy being out there, though?
SERGIO GARCIA: I mean, what can you do if there's one? Hopefully not, but if there is one, you have got to handle it.
Q. I think there's six guys in this field who are foreign, international players who obviously -- what does this tell us about golf?
SERGIO GARCIA: I will say that golf is worldwide, and you can get great players all over the world, and that's always great to see. It's great to see different nationalities playing in the same tournaments, and playing in a big tournament like this, that only gets great players in, and the best in the world, so it's actually great to see, you know, foreign players coming out and doing well here.
Q. Mental spikes versus soft spikes. You are metal. Why do you stick with the metal?
SERGIO GARCIA: I don't know, because I like them. (Laughs). I just can't play with soft spikes, I slip.
TODD BUDNICK: Thank you very much. Sergio, play well this week.
SERGIO GARCIA: Thanks.
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