August 14, 2001
JULIUS MASON: Good afternoon, once again, ladies and gentlemen. Sergio Garcia joining us at the 83rd PGA Championship. Sergio is playing in his third PGA Championship. Welcome to the Atlanta Athletic Club.
SERGIO GARCIA: Thank you.
JULIUS MASON: Sergio, some thoughts on the facility and we'll go to Q&A.
SERGIO GARCIA: I played nine holes yesterday and 18 today. I think the course -- unfortunately it's very wet because of all the rain. It's in very good shape. It's a tough course. It is playing really long. Well, the greens are good. They are soft, but they are rolling pretty nice and they will make them a little faster. It just looks really good. So looking forward to start, and, you know, hopefully have a good tournament.
JULIUS MASON: Very good. Thank you. Questions, folks?
Q. Could you bring us all up to date with Carlos?
SERGIO GARCIA: He's in Spain. They checked the surgery he had. It looked good, and it will probably be three or four more weeks until he comes back and then he has to do rehabilitation and all that. You know, he's as good as he can be.
Q. You know, from the time you were a kid, you never feared anything, but now you seem to walk with so much more confidence and you just carry yourself so differently. You have to feel really confident coming here on this course, and I wonder your thoughts there.
SERGIO GARCIA: Yes, I'm pretty confident. I've been playing very well since the Byron Nelson. I'm having really a lot of good rounds. I realize that not everything even going my way, for example, like British Open or the INTERNATIONAL or a couple more tournaments. I'm still in contention to win those tournaments. That's really nice to be able to think that even if you don't have the good breaks or you don't have the perfect week or everything, you can still be in contention. It's really good. I'm just giving myself some good chances to win tournaments. I've only won twice, but I feel like I could win a couple more. Just try to do the same thing. Give yourself an opportunity here on Sunday and see what happens.
Q. Did the buggy incident affect you more at Lytham more than --
SERGIO GARCIA: Yes, I was worried because, you know, Carlos working is for me, but more than anything. He's a very good friend of mine. He's just a great guy. He really gave me a lot of confidence to go out there and play and try not be thinking too much about what happened. You know, he was really good at that. I really thank him for that.
Q. A European has not won this tournament in 60 years. Do you find that intimidating; and, also, can you maybe explain why that is?
SERGIO GARCIA: Actually, I don't really find it too intimidating because I didn't know, that's to start with. No, I don't know. There are more American players playing this tournament than Europeans, so they have more chances of winning. I don't know, it's one of those things. But I'm sure that one day, hopefully this year or if not soon, there will be a European player that will win this tournament. Just have to wait for it. But if there's -- how many players are there, 120?
JULIUS MASON: 150.
SERGIO GARCIA: There's 150, and maybe 100 of them are Americans. So you have twice as many opportunities to win if you are an American than if you are a European. Just got to play well and hopefully you will do it. Doesn't matter if you're European or American; you're still going to win it.
Q. If you would reflect back on the final round at Southern Hills and talk about how disappointing that might have been, and is there a lesson learned there that you can apply if you put yourself in that same position after three rounds here this week?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, yeah, of course it is. I didn't have the greatest Open. I thought I played pretty well on Sunday. I was actually surprised that the scoring was so good on Sunday at the British for the -- the first three or four guys that finished there on the top. Of course I learned. You've just got to keep learning about those experiences. Unfortunately, I didn't play as well as I would have liked to at the U.S. Open, and, because I didn't have a great start, I kind of got a little too -- too greedy in trying to do too many things on a course. You couldn't really do too many things. You always learn from that. I tried to give myself a chance at the British Open. I tried not to do the same thing. I went out there and played pretty well. Could have been a lot lower, but it just wasn't -- it wasn't the right time to shoot a good score. I had a couple bad breaks and stuff like that and it started on those kind of courses. Hopefully, I'll put myself in that same position again, and if it goes a little better, it will be great; and if not, just keep waiting.
Q. A year ago at this time with Tiger on the roll that he was on in the major championships, there was some talk of the Tiger intimidation factor. Take it a year forward to where we are now, is it the intimidation factor -- has the world gotten closer to Tiger Woods at this point?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, to me there was never any -- of course, I had a lot of respect for him and how good he is as a player, but I never felt intimidation. I think right now, a lot of guys that maybe felt a little bit of that kind of intimidation, they are getting rid of it. They are starting to play better and shooting good scores knowing that they can do it. I think, of course, it's got closer, but to me, I'll say that I was never really intimidated. More than anything, because what I enjoy the most is playing with the best players in the world. So if I'm playing with Tiger or David or Phil, I just get -- I just get more excited of being in that position of playing with them, instead of getting intimidated like some of the guys might do.
Q. That famous Garcia putting touch has returned, and to win here, you're going to need it. How is your putting coming into this championship and what do you think about the greens?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, the greens, actually, to be a major, they are pretty flat. Take that away -- I wouldn't say -- they are pretty -- I mean, you can read them pretty easily. It's kind of a little bit strange, but I think that they are still a little slow because of all the rain. But they are going to get a lot faster. And, well, you know, I've been putting quite well. More than anything, you know, I've been trying to just hit good putts and sometimes they are going to go in and sometimes they are not. Just try to give yourself a chance of hitting a good putt, and, you know, if it's that week where you see the breaks, perfect and just try to hit them the best you can.
Q. Two and a half, three years ago, it was said that the thing that would separate you from contending in majors would be your ability to drive the ball consistently?
SERGIO GARCIA: Who said that?
Q. Actually a player did, and I don't want to make it about you and him --
SERGIO GARCIA: No. I didn't hear what you said at the beginning.
Q. It was said that what might separate you from being a contender in majors would be your ability to drive the ball, and now you're tenth on TOUR in driving. Was that a bad rap or was that something you've worked on?
SERGIO GARCIA: Actually, I've never felt like I've been a bad driver. Now, thanks to the ball -- the problem is before, you know, with the Professional, because it doesn't go as far, I felt like I had to hit more drivers in holes that probably driver wasn't the right club, but I didn't want to hit like a 2-iron on the tee and leave myself with a 5- or a 6-iron to a difficult green so you kind of take a little more risk. Now, because of the ball and everything, I'm able to hit more 2-irons on the tee or more 3-woods so I can get in the fairway a little easier. You know I've been hitting my driver really well anyways. I usually miss very little fairways with my driver. I've just been working on everything. I've been working on the swing and all the clubs. And more than anything, what I've been working on pretty hard has been from 9-iron down, 9-iron to the wedges, and you know, I just got better and better and trying to keep improving that thing.
Q. Maybe you were not intimidated before, but now do you feel like you belong when you are playing with Duval or Tiger; that you are in their category?
SERGIO GARCIA: I'll say I still have to improve and I still have to learn things. I feel more like I can -- it's not that I didn't feel like I could belong there before, but I felt like I wasn't consistent enough to belong there. And now, I got a little more consistent and, you know, even when I don't play my best, I'm still able to -- most of the times, I'm still able to shoot a decent round, and that's what keeps you in the tournament and that's what shows a good player. I guess good players are not the ones that, you know, when everything is going, they just shoot low. It's when they play bad, they are able to hold the round and get a decent score so they don't go out of the tournament. I just feel like I've been really working on that and I've been getting better and better on that and I'm getting a little more consistent.
Q. Sergio, with your two wins this year, how much does that help your confidence coming into a major?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, it does help a lot. First of all, it shows that because the victories, winning here in the States, too, it shows that you can do it. It makes it a lot more calmer. You know, it feels great. I don't know, you go to the tournaments and it's good to go on the tee and hear, "Now on the tee, from Spain, 2001 MasterCard Colonial Champion and Buick Classic Champion". It feels good, to see that I've won twice this year, and I'm will to try to win another. It just helps a lot mentally, to be a little more calm and just go out there and try to play well.
Q. What do you like most about life in America and what do you like least?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, actually, I don't live here. I still live in Spain. But about playing here, truthfully I like everything. I think it's just a great tour. The level of play is really good. I really feel like I can improve my game to where I want to. What I like least, I'll say probably that I don't get to be in Spain as much as I would like to because I'm here. Maybe the food, I can to say something.
Q. What food do you miss most?
SERGIO GARCIA: Tortillas, my Spanish omelette, probably a couple paella, dishes from where I live. I miss those a little. But when I go back home, first thing I do is I try to get a bite of one of those.
Q. One of the images that a lot of people think of is you running down the fairway after hitting that miraculous shot. Do you still get teased about that and have you worked on your speed at all?
SERGIO GARCIA: I mean, of course I've been working out and I don't know if I'm faster or slower than what I used to be. I do get teased about that. You know, it's great to hear about that, but it's a thing from the past. That's not going to help me if I'm one behind and two holes to play this week on 17; that's not going to help me to win the tournament. They are not going to say: "Oh, because you hit that shot we'll give you a birdie here." Unfortunately, it doesn't -- that's something it's great to remember about, but it's the past and you've just got to focus in the present and what you want to achieve and all that stuff. In those kind of things, it's nice to remember it, but it doesn't help you.
Q. We heard last week that you announced that you were going to play in Munich to qualify for the Ryder Cup if you did not play well here. Is that a decision you made on your own or did you talk with Sam Torrance?
SERGIO GARCIA: What I said was I'm going to play Munich if I don't play well enough here to play next week at the World Series, because I have to get in the Top-12 of the European Money List and all that. So if I don't play next week, I'll take that week off and then play Munich. If I do play next week, then I won't play Munich. Yeah, it's something that I talked to Sam. I said I would like to make the team by myself. You know, hopefully, I'll play well enough here and it will be okay, and then play next week. But if not, I'll have to go there and try to make it there.
Q. Has the perception of Retief Goosen changed with the players, and can you just comment on that, since he won the Open?
SERGIO GARCIA: I mean, to tell you the truth, I really enjoy playing with him. I've been playing with him one or two rounds since just before the Open, I think. I don't think -- of course, the perception of some guys probably change about him. We all knew how good he was, and it was great -- it was really nice to see him win at the U.S. Open. I think he really deserved it. He's been working hard. He's just a good player and a good guy. But I will say that since just before getting married, I think he's kind of changed a little. He feels like, you know, now that I play with him, I know him since before that, he seems to be a little more quiet and, you know, didn't joke as much. And now just -- not because he won the U.S. Open. Of course because he won it, he's happy. But before that, he just seemed happier and he was joking about things and stuff like that and, you know, it just -- it's great to see him that way. He's actually a very funny guy, so it is great.
Q. To clear up the Munich thing, you could qualify for next week but then still not be in the Top-10 after next week. Would you then go to Munich?
SERGIO GARCIA: No. Because then I will play seven weeks in a row, being the -- the seventh one being the Ryder Cup. And I don't think that Sam or anybody will like me to do that, because then I won't be able to play well at the Ryder Cup so I will be useless.
JULIUS MASON: Questions, questions twice. Thanks very much, Sergio.
SERGIO GARCIA: Thanks, Julius.
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