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MERCEDES CHAMPIONSHIPS

January 5, 2002

Sergio Garcia

KAPALUA, HAWAII

TODD BUDNICK: Sergio Garcia, 5-under 68 today. Has him at 9-under for the tournament. Sergio, started the day with 4-pars, then bogey on No. 5.

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah. It was actually an unbelievable bogey. I hit a great drive middle of the fairway. Knock-down 3-iron, laying up. You know, I didn't hit a bad shot. I hit just a knock-down 9-iron from 102 yards, a little short, little left of the pin. Hit in the middle of the green, stopped. All of a sudden the wind started taking it. I don't know, almost went in the bunker on the right.

I thought it was a decent shot. Ended up almost in the bunker, not a great position. I chipped it to about six feet and I missed it. But then, you know, I was fortunate to hit a good shot with a 3-wood on the next to the green, chipped it to about seven feet and made it.

Then on the next, I hit a great drive. I hit a very good 8-iron from -- it was 205 or something like that, just on the front of the green, rolled it to about a foot.

Then on 9, I hit a good 3-iron off the tee. Didn't hit a very good second shot. I hit a little heavy, just short of the green. Great chip to about, I don't know, nine, ten, 15 inches.

Then on 10 I hit a great drive again. Hit a pretty good shot, a little bit too much, to about 12, 13 feet. I made that.

Then I made a good save on 11, making probably about a 4-footer, a little downwind.

Then on 14, I hit a good drive, middle of the fairway. Hit a great sand wedge from 76 yards -- 70 yards to about a foot again.

Then on 15, hit another good drive. Good 3-wood. Just a little right. Caught the slope. Ended a little right of the green. Hit a great chip to about four feet, made it.

Then I hit a good putt on 16. Didn't make it. You know.

Unhappy with 18 again. Haven't birdied any of the days. What can you do?

Q. Are you tired? Is this a kind of day that wears you out?

SERGIO GARCIA: Actually, no. I feel great. I actually really was enjoying myself out there. It's been a while since I played with these kind of winds. It was a good test. You know, to start the way I started, although I made 4-pars to start with, hit a lot of great shots. On one I almost hit a birdie, 3-wood.

Q. 3-wood?

SERGIO GARCIA: 3-wood to about 20 feet, hit a great putt, almost made it, 20, 22 feet. Then I hit a pretty good shot on 2, but just on the right. Got it up and down. 3, hit a good shot. Then I hit a great putt.

But, you know, it felt good. You know, the only down I had today was that bogey on 5 that for sure I didn't deserve it with the shot I hit. But, you know, I got it back quick. That's the most important thing.

Q. 3-wood into 1 about the same distance as your 8-iron into 7?

SERGIO GARCIA: No. Oh, yeah. On 1, I had 243 to the hole. That's a par 4.

Q. That's acceptable.

SERGIO GARCIA: I hit a pretty good shot to about 22 feet. Then on 7, I had 205 to the hole. I hit a low 8-iron to about a foot.

Q. Do you remember on Thursday what you hit into 1, when the wind was calm?

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah. I hit a smooth 7. I hit it down the slope. Just a nice, smooth 7. A little different, huh (laughter)?

Q. We've been asking everybody about the wind.

SERGIO GARCIA: What wind (smiling)?

Q. Particularly on the 1st hole. Normally it blows over the hill the other way. It affected a lot of people. You seemed not to be bothered by it. Carnoustie a lot of guys were saying was the last time like this.

SERGIO GARCIA: Probably Carnoustie, Royal Birkdale.

Q. That third round?

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah. It wasn't the toughest I played, though. I remember when I played '96, my first British Amateur, that was windy. I started 3-putts, 5-putts from about four feet, then I went 3-putt, 3-putt, 1 -putt 3-putt, 3-putt. I just couldn't putt.

Q. That's where the wind affects you most.

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah. I was fortunate today. I felt really comfortable putting. Some of the long putts I had, I hit them to give. So that's important, too. You know, other than a couple short putts that I missed probably inside six feet, I made all of them.

You know, with the wind, it's difficult.

Q. Do you consider yourself a good wind player?

SERGIO GARCIA: I'll say I'm probably more comfortable than some other people. I had my good rounds and my bad rounds. But, yeah, I consider -- I've played a lot in the wind, so I can handle it more or less a little better than some other people.

Q. What course was the amateur on that year?

SERGIO GARCIA: It was Royal St. George's and Singport (phonetic).

Q. Was that the qualifying round or match play?

SERGIO GARCIA: No, the qualifying rounds.

Q. On St. George's?

SERGIO GARCIA: At Singport (phonetic).

Q. How do you like Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii?

SERGIO GARCIA: It's great. We've been here for about six, seven days now, seven or eight days. It's been unbelievable.

This is more what I expected. I think it was Tuesday and the first day, it was really calm. I was like, "Jesus." I've always watched this tournament. It's always been....

I was a little surprised. This is more like it's supposed to play.

Q. Your home country is well-known for beautiful golf courses. How does this venue from a golf perspective compare to some of Spain's golf courses?

SERGIO GARCIA: It's different. It's different because, you know, now in Spain we had a terrible winter. Almost the whole Spain is covered in snow. It was nice to come here.

You know, it's just different countries. Spain has some great things and some things maybe not as good. You know, Hawaii has some beautiful things, maybe some things that are not as good. One of them is probably that it's too far, at least for me.

I really enjoy playing here.

Q. How much harder is the course playing today than it did on Thursday? How many strokes difference?

SERGIO GARCIA: I'll probably say, you know, if I would have shot 5-under on Thursday, without hitting the ball well, as I wasn't, that I'm hitting the ball more or less the way I want to now, I would feel like probably -- being 5-under would have been probably 1- or 2-over. And today I shot 5-under and I feel like I shot probably 9.

It's playing quite different. The greens are firmer, too. It's getting a little difficult.

Q. You're obviously in the mix, have a good chance tomorrow. What would it mean for you to be able to win this first tournament of the year? How would it set the tone for the rest of the year for you?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, first of all it would be great because it will mean that I'll come back here to Hawaii next year. You know, that's always great.

For sure it will be a boost of confidence for me. It will be great to be able to do that. It will give me a lot of confidence. You know, hopefully I will be able to carry through the year.

But even if I don't, even if I don't win, the way I've been hitting the ball these last couple of days, it feels better because, you know, first day I felt really, really rusty. My head is still a little rusty, but it looks like the swing, I'm getting better.

Q. It looks the same to me.

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah (smiling)?

Q. You maybe answered this, but what is your schedule for this first stretch?

SERGIO GARCIA: I'm playing next week here in Hawaii, too. Then I'm flying to Australia. I'm going to watch some of the Australian Open tennis for the first week that I have off. Then I'll play Johnnie Walker. Then I'll take a couple weeks off and I'll come back for Nissan and the Matchplay.

Q. Do you enjoy the knock-down shots in the wind, the creativity, the challenges, or do you tolerate it?

SERGIO GARCIA: I do. I really enjoy it. If you've seen me play, if you've taken some time off from Tiger and seen me play anytime (smiling), you'll realize that even when it's not windy, I still hit knock-down shots. I feel like I hit the fairway so much easier or I can hit on the greens so much easier on that kind of shot if I don't feel comfortable hitting the other one. It's one of my favorites.

Q. How much do you look forward to the Matchplay? It will be your first one, if I'm not mistaken, the World Golf Championships?

SERGIO GARCIA: Excuse me?

Q. Did you go to Australia?

SERGIO GARCIA: I played two years ago in '99. I did, yeah. I did play in La Costa.

Q. 2000.

SERGIO GARCIA: I lost against David Duval.

Q. Strike that question.

SERGIO GARCIA: It was on 17, yeah. He beat me on 17. Two on one, I think it was, something like that.

Q. Can you remind us about the tournament in South Africa, beating Ernie, what you shot in the final round, then chipped in in the playoff to beat him? That was just in November.

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah.

Q. You shot 63?

SERGIO GARCIA: 63. I shot 63, finished with bogey on the last. Hit an 8-iron in, hit it right. You know, didn't get it up and down.

But it was great. It was a perfect way to finish my year, you know. They made some changes on the golf course. The golf course looked great in South Africa. The greens were unbelievably good. It was about the best greens I've ever seen.

You know, to be able to beat Ernie the way I did, coming back, coming from behind, you know, Padraig hitting 61 the day before me, it was something really nice to do.

Q. You said at Colonial you beat Phil. Now you also beat Ernie. Those two tournaments stand out a little bit last year?

SERGIO GARCIA: Yes. I'll say Colonial was probably the biggest one because it was the first one and the way I did it, how hard the course was playing. I really liked the way I won the Lancome Trophy, too. The Buick was great because it was consistently through the whole week, I was leading, right there, holding it. But the way I beat Retief, the Lancome Trophy, finishing birdie, birdie, birdie, par, beat him one, being four behind, it was great, too.

Q. Beating Scott Hoch was memorable?

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah. But -- I'll say it wasn't as tough as the other ones because I was in front. I wasn't coming from behind.

Q. How are you going to celebrate your birthday next week?

SERGIO GARCIA: I don't know. I'll probably just have a nice dinner with my parents and some friends. Hopefully I'll get lucky (laughter). Know what I mean?

End of FastScripts....

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