March 14, 2002
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you, Sergio for joining us for a few minutes. Good day out there. Interesting round. Why don't you give us some comments on the round and we'll go from there.
SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, well, it's a good round to start with. The way the course is playing, it's playing quite hard, and, you know, this course they are good. But I think they are a little thick, more than anything, because of how got weather was and no wind. But as soon as the wind starts blowing just a hair, the scores are going to go high because the greens are so firm. You're hitting sand wedges and ball is releasing about, I don't know, probably about ten yards. So that's -- to some of those short front pins, it's hard to hit it close.
I'm happy the way I played. I hit a lot of fairways. I think I barely missed one fairway all day. Hit quite a lot of greens. And the ones that I missed, other than the one on 7, they were just on the fringe and it was a 2-putt or easy up-and-down. So happy with that and just looking forward to keep going.
SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, the greens, they are rolling really nicely and they are nice and firm as we like them to play, like this week and next week, at the Masters; that's the way the greens should be. So it's nice and tough.
Q. If the greens were the way they were last year and you had this kind of weather, what's the state of the tournament right now, do you think?
SERGIO GARCIA: Similar. It would not change much.
Q. Because the greens were kind of soft last year.
SERGIO GARCIA: They were? That's not my memory. I remember they were quite firm. Maybe not as firm as they are this year, but they were quite firm last year, too.
Maybe one or two shots better, but not more than that, because the wind, as firm as they are, even to what it looks like an easy pin. I mean, for example, like the shot I had on the last hole, I have 195 to the hole, I think, and I'm thinking, "Well, I can't hit a 7-iron," because I have to hit it really softly. If I hit a 7-iron and I hit it just a little too hard, it's going to bounce on the middle of the green and it's going to go over and I'll have a tough up-and-down. But an 8, I shot it too much and looked like it was going to be four or five feet, and it stays about 18 feet short and then I'm not able to make it.
But it's quite tough to be able to -- if you hit as many fairways as I did, it makes it a little easier.
SERGIO GARCIA: I mean, every tournament I've played this year has been windy. Hawaii, of course, it was windy. I went down to Australia; it was really windy. Then I played Nissan and it was a little windy, too. Probably the one that was the calmest was The Match Play. Doral it was windy.
So every single tournament has been quite windy. So it's nice to play one round with no wind. More than anything, because, you know, when it's windy, you are hitting those punch shots and stuff like that and your swing gets maybe a little more aggressive, trying to get the ball going in the wind.
But I think that if the wind blows, my chances are still as good, if not better, to win the tournament. I've always liked playing in the wind, and I think I managed myself quite well on it.
SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah -- yes and no. Because if you hit it in the middle of the fairway and you hook it with a 7-iron, it's useless.
But driving it, of course, it's always important, this week, next week and the Masters, it's a little more, because of those reasons.
And usually, if you are driving the ball well, you are hitting your irons pretty well, too. So I'll say driving -- getting the right distance is really important this week because you're playing with very little margin of error, and to some of the back pins, you're flying it just front of the green and if you fly it short in the fringe and the fairways are wet -- they are not wet, but they are soft; so the ball just sticks. And if you bounce it a little too far, it goes over the green. It's tough but it's a good challenge.
SERGIO GARCIA: At the beginning you play by feel. Probably by what the ball has been doing the last couple of days, should I do this or should I do that.
Then, as the round goes on, you know, you've seen how, more or less the ball has been reacting. So you've got -- you've have got a little idea of what the ball can do, but it's still difficult.
SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah.
Q. What are your reactions to that?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I think -- I haven't seen them, but they look good. They look great. You know, you're going to have to hit the ball long and straight and you're going to have to be hitting your irons well, and of course, putting is always a key point at Augusta.
But now, I think it's going to bring the field a lot closer. Everybody is going to be closer together, because it's a lot tougher to make birdies with a 7-iron to a hard, slopey green, than with a sand wedge or a pitching wedge.
Q. As a follow-up, do you feel that you are in better position now to contend seriously at that tournament?
SERGIO GARCIA: For sure, yeah.
Q. And why so?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I still have to get my putter straight. I'm a much better player. I drive the ball a lot better. I hit my irons a lot better. My distance control, it's quite good. So those are some key things that you need to get in every tournament, but more than anything on the majors and I've been improving a lot on that. If you are able to have a good week where you feel nice with the putter and you start rolling them in, I should be able to have a good chance. We'll see what happens.
SERGIO GARCIA: I'm not doing it as much.
>Q. You did it to the microphone three times already -- I'm kidding.
SERGIO GARCIA: I'm getting excited with it. (Smiling.)
Q. A lot is made of that. And while you're doing that, are you happy and comfortable, or are you saying, "I wish I could take the club back?" What is your thinking?
SERGIO GARCIA: Not at all.
I said it before, I probably was thinking a little too much, but I said it at Doral; I wasn't feeling comfortable with my swing. If you noticed today, I wasn't doing it that much. I was probably doing it -- I don't even know, probably five times or so, and that's okay. There's a lot of guys that take a lot more time over the ball than when I'm taking now. So just cut it off, man.
Q. And also, for about a two-year period, Tiger you could say, dominated. Not only did he win, but he won by ten. Your name at times is mentioned as maybe somebody else that could do that. What do you feel that you have to do to improve, to dominate?
SERGIO GARCIA: Just make every single put you have on the green. If you have hitting the ball close and making everything, as Tiger Woods on those two years, I mean, nothing can go wrong. You know, it's so much easier when you feel that you can make a putt from everywhere, it's so much easier to hit it closer, because you are thinking, well, just hit a nice shot. Even if I hit it 15 or 20 feet, I'm still going to make it. And you're so relaxed that you start swinging it loose and nicely and you start hitting it closer, and I'm making them.
You know, when you start missing putts, you start putting pressure on yourself, hit it closer, and closer, because you feel that you can't -- unless you hit it to five feet, you can't make it. Those are little things that happen. That's the beauty of the game. That's the beauty of golf. Mentally, it's such a tough game and you've got to realize those things.
SERGIO GARCIA: I'm always prepared for the majors. I don't think you prepare for the major three weeks before the major. You prepare -- you work the whole season trying to get ready for it; so when you get to the majors, you are on the highest peak that you can be.
Then, of course, even if you feel great, you've still got to have the week. You've still got to, of course, it the ball well. Get the week where you get a couple breaks where you need them. But I don't think you try to get ready three or four weeks before the major, or the Masters, you start trying to get ready for it. You work from the beginning of the year.
Q. Do you consider yourself one of the better drivers?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, last year I was.
This year, I think I'm getting back there. I didn't drive the ball as well at the beginning. I still was driving the ball quite well, but now that I'm feeling a lot more comfortable and my setup is better, I was a little wrong on the setup and it just feels so much more comfortable. I feel back to where I was, and hitting my irons good. Everything is coming all together.
SERGIO GARCIA: Once in awhile. I haven't played for a while. Yeah, it helps you forget about it and it's also good for you, just to, you know, to get the right side of your back a little stronger. You know, it can help you sometimes.
Q. When is the last time you hit a ball left-handed, even messing around on the range?
SERGIO GARCIA: Not that long ago. Probably a couple of months ago.
Q. Are you any good?
SERGIO GARCIA: I can hit it. I shot 39 once on nine holes on my home course. It's not a long course, but I was pretty happy with it. Made six pars in a row. (Laughter.)
Q. Wasn't there something at the Canadian Skins last year, you and Phil?
SERGIO GARCIA: It was Phil, Mike Weir, Freddie Couples and me. It was on the 13th hole -- I think it was two years ago -- and we just swapped. Phil and Mike hit it right-handed. They both hit on the green. Phil hit it to probably 15 feet. Mike hit a good shot, but it was a big ridge and it hit and came back about 40 feet. Freddie hit a good shot on the green left, probably about 50 feet. And I hit a pretty good shot and I hit the ridge and came back to where Mike Weir was, too. We were hitting about 5- or 6-iron. So it was pretty good.
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