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April 11, 2002

Sergio Garcia


BILLY MORRIS: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, we are delighted to have Sergio Garcia with us who had a very fine 68 today.

Sergio, I'm going to ask you to make a few general comments, and then we'll go to questions.

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, well, as you said, I'm happy about shooting a 68, my best round ever here at Augusta.

Although I missed a couple of putts, you know, unfortunately it's going to happen on this course, but other than that I felt like I hit the ball very well. Just hit a couple of bad shots on 14 and 18, and cost me two bogey, unfortunately.

Q. How did the new course play to your eye, and was it not a factor at all or was it a factor?

SERGIO GARCIA: Of course it's a factor, when instead of hitting sand wedges and lob-wedges to 18, you are hitting 6-irons and hitting 7-irons into 11 instead of hitting 9-irons or wedges. It is a factor. You know that some of the pins you cannot attack with those clubs.

You know, I think that those are good things about the changes, but for me eyesight, it looked exactly the same, just a little bit longer. I think that's the beautiful thing about the work they have done. The course is exactly the same way, but it's just a little longer than what it was.

Q. Any particular reason why your last couple of times here have not been up to your usual standard?

SERGIO GARCIA: I don't know, I actually feel like I played better than what I scored. Last year was very unfortunate, the way I missed the cut. I made double-bogey on 15, hit a really good shot on my second and then chipped it in the water. When it looked like I had it on 18, I hit a great lob-wedge from the first cut towards the pin and I thought I was going to make it, and it hit the pin and spun off the green and made bogey.

You know, sometimes -- I've always said it. In major championships, you've got to play well, but you've got to be a little lucky. Unfortunately, I don't think I've been really lucky in this tournament.

Q. The leaderboard has a mixture of guys with a reputation of hitting long and straight. Do we still have to wait and see who is going to be better off?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, of course, right now, the longer you hit it, the better. But you've still got to hit it straight. You don't want to be coming up to these greens from the trees or from the first cut, because you don't know how it's going to react, the ball.

I mean, if you hit it long, and of course it's an advantage, but you've still got to hit it pretty straight. It all comes down to chipping and putting, too, because hitting longer clubs to the greens, you're going to miss more of them and you've got to be able to get it up-and-down as many times as possible. So, you know, I don't think it's only being long, when you have to be, to do well here.

Q. Davis had talked about coming in here a little bit overlooked and how maybe that was an advantage to him. Do you feel that maybe was the case with you, and if so, that was an advantage that not a lot of people were looking at you this week?

SERGIO GARCIA: You think so?

Q. I don't think so, but, you know.

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I don't know if people really realized where I was playing. I've been playing really well. I really felt like at least I should have won twice this year already. But, you know, sometimes it doesn't happen.

But I know what I'm doing and I know how I feel and I know how my swing feels. So I think that's the most important thing.

Q. Seven of the ten players up there are international players. What does that say for world golf, I guess?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, that this is an international tournament. (Laughter.)

Q. You look at the week-to-week results, though, and a lot of those same players have been winning events, finishing second and third. It seems like the international influence is stronger this year in the first few months than we have seen it maybe ever.

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I think everybody is getting better. Of course, the PGA TOUR is getting more international than it used to be. There's a lot of guys coming out now. I came out here about three or four years ago. Retief came out now, Olazabal, he made it. There's a lot more international players trying to join the PGA TOUR, and that can only do -- that can only do well for the PGA TOUR. The more international players, good players that come here, the better the level is. You know, that's what is showing right there.

Q. Do you expect the nature of the course to change, if the sun comes out for the weekend; which-wise do you prefer, like on Monday or today?

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, I do. Monday, I hope. I think the harder the course, the better you have to play the better player is going to come out on top.

When the course is like this, it's easier to hit it closer to the pin. But when the course is playing like on Monday, you really have to think. It makes you think more, and it makes, some of the pins it makes almost impossible to go for them. So I think that's the beauty of the Masters, and you know, it's always been like that. And unfortunately, the rain kept us from playing that way today. But hopefully the weather will be good and it will dry up.

Q. As long and as straight as you are off the tee, is the only thing keeping you from a green jacket is just your putter cooperating on the weekend?

SERGIO GARCIA: I'll say so. Unfortunately, I haven't contended really in this tournament yet. I'm looking forward to doing it this year. You know, if my putter behaves a little, I think that I should have a good chance the way I'm hitting the ball.

Q. You had relatively easy conditions for you guys. You were one of only a handful of guys who got better than 3-under. Now that we have one competitive round on this new setup, are we going to have to redefine what a good score is on this course, do you think?

SERGIO GARCIA: I would say so, yes. You've got to realize that the course was playing softer today. As I said before it was easier to attack some pins. And the wind, it was blowing very little. So just look at the scores, I mean, this field is an unbelievable field, and it shows. The course, it's playing tough. It's not the same thing to hit wedges to these greens than hitting 7-irons. It makes you think a lot and it makes you be a little more conservative.

Q. Was 70 last year, did that feel as good as a 70 would feel this year this year?

SERGIO GARCIA: No, I think a 70 this year feels a little better, yeah.

Q. Following up on the course conditions, benign conditions, does that negate the experience factor here, the absence of wind, softer greens -- players who play the -- do benign conditions level the playing field a little bit?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, probably, yes. We come back to where we talked before; the softer the greens are, the easier it is to hit it closer. You don't have to think, "I have to hit this shot ten feet right of the hole because it's going to hit it toward the pin if I hit it left it's going to go over the green." It makes a little difference. But, you still -- you still have to play well to be able to shoot a good score on this golf course, and, you know, that's what most of the guys did.

Q. You may have been the only guy to birdie all four par 5s today. How important is that still in this tournament and how important is that in your own strategy?

SERGIO GARCIA: It is important. I don't know, 8 was playing really long today. I hit driver, 3-wood and I had 70 yards left into the wind, up the hill. That hole is playing a lot different.

So you're probably not going to birdie all of the par 5s all week, so you've got to realize that. You've just got to be patient, and you've got to realize that if you play nice and just very patiently, you can still make some birdies on some of the par 4s, hit a good shot or make a nice putt and get it back. But always, par 5s, not only in this tournament, but every tournament, they have been a big factor.

Q. Very strong leaderboard. Does that enthuse you, when you see the top of the World Ranking up there?

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah. That's the way it should be. It shows that the good players are playing well, and that can only make it more exciting towards the weekend.

Q. I want to take the opportunity to ask you about your passion for soccer.

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, it was great. For sure, I was happier when I got to the course today than if Real Madrid had lost yesterday. And I'm happy for them. I have a lot of friends there. I called a couple of them last night and it was good to see that.

Q. What friends? Who did you call?

SERGIO GARCIA: I called Salgado, the guy who plays with No. 2, and the goal keeper, Cesar.

BILLY MORRIS: Sergio, thank you and good luck the rest of the week.

End of FastScripts....

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