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July 31, 2002

Sergio Garcia


JOAN V.T. ALEXANDER: Thank you, Sergio, for joining us here in the interview room for a few minutes I know you played the British Open and then took a week off, I am sure it's great to be back here in Colorado relaxing at The INTERNATIONAL. Why don't you make a couple of comments about the course conditions and then we'll go into some questions.

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I just said it's no doubt it's great to be back. This is a place that we all the professionals we all like and it's like family, always great, treat us really nice. It is a great golf course. Always looking forward to come back. It's in good condition. They haven't had much rain that's why the rough is a little inconsistent, quite thick in some places and a little -- pretty short in some others. But the course is looking great. The greens are beautiful and can't wait to get started and see what how many points we can get this year.

Q. The way Ernie is playing right now coming off the British do you look at him as the guy to beat even though it is a deep field?

SERGIO GARCIA: There's no doubt that he's playing well. He's going to be one of the guys to beat. But I think the field is always a great field. You have Vijay and Davis and David Duval, so yo have a lot of good players that can really come out there and put some good numbers on. But for sure Ernie is going to be one of the guys that you are going to look for because he won the British two weeks ago and he's playing pretty well.

Q. I was asking Ernie about this, but in 1989 -- I mean 1999 and 2000 everybody talked about David Duval being the guy to challenge Tiger. Then it was kind of Phil. You were talked about. Now it seems like Ernie is probably going to be the guy for a little bit. Is that a big deal to people always point to one guy to try to challenge Tiger? Is that almost a curse or would you relish that fact that everybody points at you?

SERGIO GARCIA: I don't know, I -- I have always felt like everybody was pointing at me, of course, you know, when someone is playing well, automatically go to him to say oh, he's the guy now, but Ernie always been a good player. He's always there. He's always contending, and I think there's a lot of guys out there that can really play the game of golf, and that can challenge Tiger. I think Phil is a great player. David Duval, Davis Love, Vijay, Ernie, Retief now playing so well now that he's a really nice player too, myself, you know, more or less. So there's more than one player out there that can challenge him. I don't think it should just be picking one. I think there's a nice group there that can do some good things.

Q. Do you change your game a little bit because of the nature of the format here? Do you tend to see maybe to try a little you know, try for a shot with your might not try in a regular tournament?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, you might try a little, yeah you might be a little more aggressive in these kind of format because you know it's really going to pay off, so you might try a couple of different things but more or less, it's the same. You are going to go out there and you are going to make birdies like every week; not make many mistakes, and be able to do that and then get a couple of eagles around there, you are going to do well. So it all depends on how everything goes around the week. But in a couple of shots might change, but at the end overall, it's pretty much the same.

Q. Next year the tournament is going to be played the week before the PGA. Do you think there might be more players from Europe, the guys come over to play in this, to tuneup for the PGA?

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, no doubt about that I will say.

Q. You worked with Josh the guy that works with Retief and Ernie...

SERGIO GARCIA: No, just one week.

Q. How did it go?

SERGIO GARCIA: It was okay, but you know, I was going through a tough time with my putter more than anything and I wanted to try something different, but I really didn't feel like I needed it. I said I can go around by myself and I don't know, maybe, long -- I might come back and do something but right now I feel like I can handle it myself.

Q. There's kind it seems like a view that maybe Tiger's advantage is more mental than physical. Do you think that the gains that you guys can make to get better we'll see more focused on the mental than the physical in the future?

SERGIO GARCIA: I don't know. Maybe, you work a little bit on everything. You work pretty hard on the fitness and you work a little bit on the mental strength too. But the fitter you are the better you are mentally because if you don't feel tired or anything, it's easy to go along. I think that's the big point there, but it goes with -- when Tiger is not confident of course he's not as good as he usually is. It all goes by a little up-and-down.

Q. This tournament started in 1986 as kind of as The INTERNATIONAL obviously to try to draw guys that maybe normally didn't play on the PGA TOUR. Now so many international guys play on the Tour. Does it still seem like a relevant thing that it tried to draw some guys that maybe people in America have not heard of and use it as a stepping stone into the American public --

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, I think so. There's a lot of European guys who play here this tournament, Australians, so there's all kind of countries playing. Right now there's all kind of countries playing in the PGA TOUR but more in this tournament, it is more, I think that's why it is called The INTERNATIONAL because it's really gets and international field and a really good one every year too. So I think that everything around it attracts the good players from Europe to come play in tournament. The course is great. It's usually a good date to come and play a couple maybe and then play the PGA and of course, the way they treat us is wonderful.

Q. TV viewers Monday night saw Jack Nicklaus congratulating you on getting out of your regripping habit. How did you break that? How tough was it to break that? What is important in a pre-shot routine?

SERGIO GARCIA: I think the most important thing is to feel comfortable. That's what I didn't feel for a while and I talked to Jack earlier this year and he told me about it. He told me you know you are going to have to get rid of it. I said, yeah, I know, I have to, but unfortunately I couldn't feel anything that helped good enough to try. Then at Hartford I tried a couple of different things. I tried to leave the club up and I felt pretty good. You want to feel comfortable and you want to be able to hit the ball well. If it would have meant changing my pre-shot routine would mean to play badly, I would not change it. I would not care what anybody said. But I tried a little bit and it felt good. It was nice to after Hartford to go back home and spend a couple and a half weeks practicing and getting the feel of it. I just -- it just felt great. At the British Open I was in contention and it felt very good all week long and I feel like I can do it over and over and I feel comfortable over the ball, that's the most important thing for me.

Q. You said you wouldn't have changed it if you didn't see good results. But obviously the crowd in New York and Bethpage was trying to (inaudible) was that getting under your skin?

SERGIO GARCIA: Of course it's a little annoying. More than anything to hear -- when you are over the ball to hear somebody talking, that's the worst thing about it. But I worked on it and looks like everything is sweet.

Q. You have had pretty good success here making so it Sunday being in contention. Is there something you have to do on Sunday here to get you over the hump?

SERGIO GARCIA: Play better. Unfortunately I haven't -- last couple of times on this course I haven't played as well as I have been playing throughout the week. But it's a course that I feel comfortable on. I have always liked it. I have always been either in contention all three years I played. So that gives you a little boost, gives you a little confidence to go out there and try even harder, so hopefully I will put myself again in good position as I have been doing all year long, and let's see on Sunday if things work out.

Q. Feelings on the changes that they made last year to holes 8 and 14?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I don't know if they are going to use the 8th tee because it's a hole that yeah, I mean, the way this tournament is made and the way with the point and everything, if you put -- if you use the back tee on 8, you are playing against the format. Because probably I'd say 5% of the field is going to go for the green and they are going to go mainly with woods, so it's probably going to be Vijay, Ernie, a couple long hitters and me and not much more. It's not a hole that you can be hitting a 3-wood or a 2-iron into that green because mainly because you have huge, I don't know, 60 or 70 feet trees on the right. You have to get it out there over those trees with a wood. I really -- I feel like probably going to do like last year only used it one day, and you know, so they will keep some excitement there on that hole. I think the course looks great. I think it is a great hole from the front tee because 8 is a hole that if you hit it, woods or 2-iron -- usually from the back tees hard downwind you are going to be hitting woods into that green and with water and everything it is going to be hard to be able to hit it close and make and eagle or a birdie or so. So from the front tee you are hitting 4-irons or 3-irons into the green and that is when it's gets really interesting to be able to hit a high 3-iron from a downhill lie that is not easy over water and try to hit it close to make eagle to close the gap. I think that's the way it should play but we'll see.

Q. You are only 22 but you have got, seems like a lot more experience than a normal 22 year old. Is the toughest thing right now to be patient when you are in a major and being in contention is patience a tough thing to fight?

SERGIO GARCIA: I think I have been extremely patient. If you look at me on the majors, I think I have played great golf on Sundays. And I haven't made -- haven't been able to make a single putt. To be able to be as patient as I have and hang in there even without making putts, just keep trying and keep trying and not get angry and just put yourself out of a tournament and shoot a 78 and get out of it, so I think that I have become a lot better. I have been improving that a lot and I can really feel it myself too.

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