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August 13, 2002

Sergio Garcia


JULIUS MASON: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, and again, welcome to the 84th PGA Championship. Sergio Garcia here with us today, playing in his fourth PGA Championship. Welcome to the Twin Cities, Sergio. Some thoughts on the golf course, please, and we'll go to questions.

SERGIO GARCIA: Yes, well I think the golf course is great. I played nine holes yesterday and 18 today. It's in great shape. You have some really good holes. This is the kind of course you want to have for a major. I think it's going to be a good test. If the wind blows a little bit, it's going to be hard, because it's long and you're going to be playing some holes where you're going to be hitting long irons into the greens and it looks like they are going to be pretty firm. It looks pretty good.

Q. Sergio, a year or so ago, you won Tom Lehman's charity tournament up here, and you were joking with the gallery that you won your first major. What would it be like on Sunday night to say that to golf fans in Minnesota, for real?

SERGIO GARCIA: It would be great. It's what I've been looking for. I've been doing pretty well this year. I've contended in all three majors. I had some good chances of winning. Unfortunately, I haven't really come through. It will be something really great for me to be able to come out here and be able to win. But we'll see. I like the course. So that's important. You know, if we get another good week, we might have a chance.

Q. Are you aware of this tournament's history and first-time major winners? You nearly kicked the door in your first try. Is that something that you're aware of when you play? Why do you think that tournament is like this?

SERGIO GARCIA: Not really. I don't think it matters as a major, they are all difficult to win. That's why they are majors because they are tougher than a normal tournament to win. It's not something you think about. It's not, because I can tell you, when I'm on the first tee at the Masters on Thursday, I'm not thinking, well, I've got to wait until August to win my first major. I'm here to try to win, and it doesn't matter if it's the PGA, the U.S. Open or whatever major it is. You try as hard as you can and hopefully, we'll be able to do it this week. I don't mind if the PGA is my first major. It will be great. Any of them is unbelievable.

Q. How many times will you use the driver in a given round, and how did you play 16 today?

SERGIO GARCIA: I actually think this is a course where you're going to hit quite a lot of drivers. For example, today, I probably used at least eight drivers, nine drivers. There's some 2-iron holes out there and stuff like that. Probably eight drivers. 16, I hit, it was into the wind on the right and we had a cut 3-wood, missed it just on the rough, and hit a wedge to the pin. It's an interesting hole. Even if it plays downwind, it's going to be tough to hit that fairway. If you hit it cross-fairway with water on the left, hazard on the right, some rough there, it's a really good -- it's a good hole for a great finishing hole in this tournament. I think it should be interesting to see what happens there.

Q. For such a young player, you've been in the hunt so many times in majors, and this year particularly, every one of them. What do you have to do differently, do you think, on Sunday, assuming you're in the same position to get over the hump, get it done?

SERGIO GARCIA: Make more putts. That's what it comes -- that's what it comes down to, about making putts. More in these kind of tournaments, you know that you're going to miss some greens because it's tough and if you're able to make a couple par putts of maybe 8 feet or 7 feet, something like that, something that really keeps you going, you know, that's what Tiger has been able to do for a long time. I think that's the difference. It's what keeps you out there and hopefully I'll be able to do that.

Q. Sergio, you and Jack were caught on microphone in that made-for-television event talking about adjustments.

SERGIO GARCIA: I think we got caught about everything we talked. (Laughs).

Q. You were talking specifically about adjustments you had made in your game this year, particularly on the tee, addressing the ball, etc., And Jack said he was proud of you making adjustments in that part of your game.

SERGIO GARCIA: That was great. The thing is, I talked earlier in the year, I talked to Jack and he told me that he had a very similar problem when he was in his prime. More than anything, with the putter, it will take more and more time. Even when he was in contention, he would just take longer and longer. So I talked to him a little bit, and I said, you know, I'm going to work hard on it and I'm going to try to do it the best way it feels. You know, thank God I was able to find something that, it feels good, and it also -- I feel like I can hit the ball well. So it's perfect. I work hard on it. I put myself in contention in the last couple of tournaments and things worked perfect. So it looks like it's all done.

Q. We've heard some comparisons today between Hazeltine and Medinah and wonder if you see any similarities, and if so, were there things at Medinah that really fit your eye that you could apply here, or was that a magical week and everything that transpired was great? Do you see any similarities between the two courses?

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, there are some similarities. There's no doubt about that. This course has a little bit more water than Medinah does. I'll say probably a little less trees. But you have a lot of holes that kind of look like Medinah, and I just hope to do one position better than I did there. That will be two great courses to remember. It certainly is a great course, and I really like Medinah too. So, hopefully, I'll be able to get this done and feel more and more comfortable as the week goes on.

Q. Talk about making putts on Sunday. Is that getting into the point where it's psychological for you and are you working with Jos with things like that? I think I read that somewhere?

SERGIO GARCIA: No, I only worked with him one week at the Spanish Open. I never worked with a psychologist, and I don't feel like, right now, I can get anything from any of them. I know what I have to do and I'm working hard on it. I don't think so. I think it's just a matter of making a couple and getting some confidence. If I'm able to do that, it should be fine.

Q. Not to beat this putting thing to death, is it more of a technique issue or is it bad reads or what's up with that?

SERGIO GARCIA: It's a little bit of not reading the greens great and maybe a little lack of speed or hitting it a little too hard. Because I'm hitting quite good putts, so that's the most important thing for me because earlier in the year, at TPC, a couple tournaments before that, I was just hitting bad putts. When you hit bad putts, you don't have a chance of making them. At least now I feel like my stroke is there and I'm hitting good putts. I just need to be able to get the read and the speed together and then it will be no problem.

Q. A lot of the older golfers seem to be in awe of Tiger Woods. As a younger guy, do you also feel that way, and now that he lost the British Open, does he seem to be more beatable in this tournament?

SERGIO GARCIA: There's no doubt that he's a great player, probably if not the best there's ever been, he's close to it. I know my chances out there. I know what I can do. I know that if I'm playing well and I'm doing what I have to do, I can beat him. You've still got to realize that I'm four years behind him, so I've still got a lot of time to improve and to catch up. So, I'm not worried about that at all.

Q. Did you think after you had the great tournament at Medinah, at this stage, even though you are only 22, that you would have won a major by now?

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, probably so. I'll say I would have. I still feel like I should have -- I really think, I don't know about you guys, but I really think that I played well enough to win it. But I said it before, in these kinds of tournaments, it's not only about playing well, everything has to be there. You have to putt well, you have to play well and you have to get the good break at the right moment. You know, when it's crucial to get a good break, you go from making a bogey to making birdie and then that comes down to be the tournament. Unfortunately, I don't feel like I've had that week in a major, but I'm still waiting for it.

Q. There have been other players that have gone through a -- specifically the putts just not going in, they put more pressure on their iron game, trying to get it closer and closer, and it's affected them poorly. Have you felt any temptation out of frustration, out of not seeing putts go in, to put pressure on your eye game?

SERGIO GARCIA: You know, during a major, of course it happened to me. But I think that experience and my -- you know, everything that I've worked on, my patience, it's got a lot better at that. You know, unfortunately, it's happened to me where I'll miss two or three birdie putts and start thinking, well, I'll have to hit it closer and closer. That's the things that you learn as you play; the more you play, the better you get at that, and you've got to realize that majors are tournaments where you can go and attack every single pin. You've just got to give yourself a good birdie chance and if you don't roll it in, just keep giving yourself those putts. You've got to realize that if you play well, and you hit a lot of greens and you hit it close, it's always going to feel like you're missing more putts than the rest of the field. Because maybe you're putting from 12, 15 feet for birdie and then putting from six feet for par and then they are making them and you're missing them, so, it feels like, "Oh, I'm not making them." So you've just got to be aware of those things.

Q. If you could address the Ryder Cup, earlier, Tiger talked about how maybe 9/11 put the whole Cup into perspective. Maybe it had gotten a little too intense in '99 and maybe this year it may get back to be what it was meant to be, a little more gentlemanly. What would your thoughts be on that?

SERGIO GARCIA: Yes, I certainly hope so. But I think it's not only just the Ryder Cup, it's every tournament, it's getting a little out of hand. Unfortunately, you find a couple guys out there that say the wrong things at the wrong time. You can't control everybody. It all comes down to, hopefully, the players behaving the right way and that will show into the crowd. I'm pretty sure that in England, it's going to be no problem at all. Those crowds are really good and they know what's going on around them.

Q. What about the PGA that distinguishes itself from the other majors?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, there's no doubt that it's the major that plays in more different golf courses than the others. Of course, you have Augusta where you're only playing one, and then you have the U.S. Open where you're playing a few and the British where it always rotates with, I don't know, six, seven courses. So, the PGA seems to move a little more, but they always seem to find some really nice courses to play at. It's probably the major where the scoring is the best. Usually, the winning score is probably the lowest or close to it. You always get around double-digits and stuff. I think it has their own little things. I think it's a great tournament, and changing from match-play to stroke-play is a big thing. It has some really good players that have won this tournament. So as the other three, it's a tournament that you want to have in your house, and hopefully, I'll be able to give myself a good chance this week.

Q. Did you change your gripping routine and address more because of you, because you thought it would be helpful to you or because you thought it didn't please other people? And also, how hard was it to break a routine like that?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, first one, a little bit of both. First of all, I wanted to feel a little more comfortable. The only thing why I was regripping was because my right hand was not feeling good over the ball and that's what happened. And the other thing is, I wanted to get rid of a lot of questions. So it looks like even after doing it, I still get some questions, but, you know, it comes with the job. (Laughs). You know, I actually thought it was going to become a little harder than what it really was. I gave it a try, a serious try at Hartford. I tried a little different routine and it really helped. Since then, I've felt pretty comfortable with it. I feel solid enough. It actually has shown that my golf is still there. So it's not that I wasn't able to play well before when I was regripping, but I still have to change everything and I still can play solid golf. So that is good stuff.

Q. You played a practice round with John Daly last night and on No. 3, the 630-yard par 5, he hit a driver and a long iron and still was more than one hundred yards short. What would it take to reach that green in two?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, probably it will take a lot of downwind, and hit a perfect drawing drive that hits, strings and goes back 50 yards longer. Today, I hit an unbelievable drive. I was playing with Retief and Ernie and Ernie hit a pretty good drive and I was probably 35, 40 yards in front of him and still, I hit probably 360-yard drive and still had 280 yards to the front. The problem; the second shot is up the hill, so it gets even longer. I hit a good 3-wood and couldn't reach it. I was about -- probably 20 yards short of the green. So I don't know if anybody is going to reach that green. I don't think even Tiger can reach that green. Unless it's really downwind -- the problem is if it gets really downwind, then it's really hard to hit the fairway, so we'll see.

Q. In contention at Augusta, 75 on Sunday. In contention at Bethpage, 74 on Sunday.

SERGIO GARCIA: How about the British Open?

Q. 69.

SERGIO GARCIA: Okay then, thanks. (Laughter.)

Q. So describe what it was like to handle those emotions, how you handled those Sunday nights? You're a young, emotional guy; how tough is it to say sane after that?

SERGIO GARCIA: Once you get off the golf course, you talk to your family and you realize that you lost a good chance. There's no doubt about that. But you've just got to keep moving along, keep going forward. I'm 22. If I'm lucky and healthy, I probably have about 80-something or 90-something majors to come. So I have a lot of chances. You've got to realize that. It's unfortunate because you want to win as soon and as many as you can, but that's the way it goes sometimes. You've just got to keep playing along and keep just working hard and trying harder next time. That's what I'm doing.

Q. After your trying experience with fans at Bethpage, has that carried over to any other venues?

SERGIO GARCIA: No, not really.

Q. Do you think it's good for golf that someone other than Tiger won the British Open or would you have liked to have seen the excitement level if he were going for the Grand Slam this week?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I don't know. I would have liked to have win it myself. I certainly did like that Ernie won it. He's a good friend of mine and he's been playing very well this year, so he really deserved it. It would have been interesting to see Tiger going for a single-year Grand Slam. We're all trying to win, so I'm always going to put myself in front of Tiger or anybody else. That's my choice. Then whatever happens, happens. It was exciting to see the media reaction and people and everything. It was interesting.

Q. You were so excited three years ago; do you feel excited, or do you now feel much older and wiser than three years ago?

SERGIO GARCIA: I do feel as excited and probably more. I maybe don't show it as much because I've come to realize that I do show excitement, as you all know, but I think if you show too much, you're wasting too much energy. I've come to, again, when I do well, I do get excited, but not to excited. When I do badly, before when I used to get really down, now I don't get as much. So I'm just trying to level it a little and it feels like it's working pretty well. I really feel like I've matured a lot in the past three years.

JULIUS MASON: Sergio Garcia, ladies and gentlemen. Good luck this week.

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