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September 24, 2003

Sergio Garcia


JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Thank you, Sergio, for joining us for a few minutes here in the media center at the Valero Texas Open. You haven't played in the United States since the NEC. It's been about a month. You spent some time over in Switzerland. It's good to have you back on the PGA TOUR. Talk about your month.

SERGIO GARCIA: Mainly just relaxing a little bit. I played the Omega in Switzerland, as you said, and then took two weeks off. It's been good, a little bit of rest, a little bit of practice, in order to get ready to start a good stretch.

Q. Why did you decide to come to San Antonio?

SERGIO GARCIA: I heard good things about it. There's a nice theme park next to us, too. I'm a big fan of those. I heard it was a good tournament. The course is a bit hilly, but it's a nice course to play at. I'm trying to get some good finishes to make it to the Tour Championship. Hopefully a good week here will help.

Q. Last night we were talking on the driving range about you leading the money list on both tours. Would you answer that in Spanish.

SERGIO GARCIA: (In Spanish.)

Q. Besides Ernie, you're the only one up there capable of doing something like that.

SERGIO GARCIA: That's true.

Q. Can you talk about, elaborate a little more on the break and how much did you need a break like that and what are some things you did when you were away from the course.

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, it was a nice break. It was one of those we get once in a while and we need them. More than anything, to go back and see your friends, because before that I think I spent five or six weeks here in the States and it was nice to go back home to see my friends, play a bit of tennis, a bit of soccer, just relax a little bit, just forget about golf, more than practicing hard like we do on the tournaments.

Q. For you it wouldn't be a concern that that time off might hurt you for whatever reason coming back this week?

SERGIO GARCIA: No, not at all. I mean, you don't forget how to play in two weeks. It's nice. Mentally it helps to take a bit of a rest. I've only taken two weeks off, because I played in Europe. I haven't played here, but I played in Europe.

Q. What other events are you playing in?

SERGIO GARCIA: I'm going to play four in a row, this week, American Express, Las Vegas, and Greensboro, and then I'll be back in Europe to play Volvo Masters and hopefully the Tour Championship.

Q. You've only been here a day, day and a half. What are your thoughts on San Antonio, the city? Have you done anything?

SERGIO GARCIA: Unfortunately, we don't have much time to hang around. We go to sleep quite early. It looks nice. The course, as I said, is nice. The views are pretty nice, too. We have a nice theme park I'm looking forward to going to this afternoon.

Q. Are there things on this course that set up for you the way you like?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I feel pretty comfortable on it. I feel comfortable hitting my drive. That's always important. It's a course that suits my eyes, so it's good. I've never been a great putter on Bermuda greens. Hopefully I'll get something going this week and putt a little better.

Q. When you're seeing a course for the first time, do you do anything different approachwise?

SERGIO GARCIA: Not really. You practice a little bit and see how to handle it the best and then you try to play through that game plan.

Q. The Volvo Masters is at Valderrama. That course seems to suit your eye pretty well, doesn't it?

SERGIO GARCIA: It's a course I've always liked. I've always done well there. I was there last week practicing a little bit, too.

Q. I thought you were down there.

SERGIO GARCIA: I'm good friends with Jamie. When I get the chance I go down there and practice. It's always in great shape.

Q. When you're in the U.S., do you normally get asked questions in Spanish or is this different?

SERGIO GARCIA: Sometimes. More than anything when we come down to the south around here, and some places around Florida, definitely. It's nice to see there is some Latin people going around there and cheering for you.

Q. That would be good for San Antonio, coming here?

SERGIO GARCIA: It will be great. We also heard Valero renewed its contract with the Texas Open, so it's going to be nice to have him around for six or seven more years.

Q. How is your swing coming along?

SERGIO GARCIA: It's good. It's coming along nicely. I don't have to think about it any more. It's just natural. It feels pretty good. I'm still trying to improve it. It's not done. I still have to get full confidence on it, but it's coming along nicely.

Q. Have you ever been here to San Antonio before?

SERGIO GARCIA: No. My dad has, but I haven't.

Q. Have you ever played golf around here in south Texas at all?

SERGIO GARCIA: Dallas is the farthest south I've been.

Q. How aware are you, on a more personal note, the word sex symbol and Sergio Garcia being put together? It happened this week, referring to you as that. Are you aware of that, what's going on?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, it's nice to hear. No, I've never considered myself a good looking guy. I guess I'm just normal, average. It's nice to hear that, but I don't really focus too much on that.

Q. You don't have any stories? Let's face it, people notice you and I guess you would attract a certain female population of golf. But it's there, it's a reality.

SERGIO GARCIA: I don't know. It's funny. I don't know why. I'm sure it's not my ears.

Q. When people hear you're coming, everybody obviously gets excited because you're one of the biggest names on the Tour and one of the things they think about is the shot from the root. Is that something that's exciting to go back to? People bring it up, that you are known for.

SERGIO GARCIA: You always get marked for something, in a good way or a bad way, so I think I got marked in a good way on that. It's always going to be with me. It's something that's always going to be with me. I enjoy it. It was a great tournament. The only thing I regretted from that tournament is finishing second, but it was exciting and it was a great time. So no, I'm not -- I don't mind about it.

Q. When you see it, what do you think of?

SERGIO GARCIA: What do I think of? I don't know. I just look at it and I think that was a pretty good shot, more than anything because of the moment. It was pretty nice.

Q. You mentioned about going to places where there's a lot of Latin influence. Does that make you more or less comfortable in situations?

SERGIO GARCIA: No, it's nice. As I said before, it's nice to see your fellow Latin guys supporting you and cheering for you. I've always said it's nice to have crowds following you and want to cheer you on. It makes you keep going. So for me, it's nice to see that.

Q. Speaking about women again, I'm wondering what your opinion is on the ladies who are playing the men's Tour like Annika Sorenstam, Michelle Wie. What's your opinion on that?

SERGIO GARCIA: Last night or two nights ago, about Michelle Wie, I didn't know what she shot. But as I said before, Annika did pretty well. She played well and she was exciting. She was good, I think. Unfortunately, I didn't see much of the other two, but I don't know. I don't really mind much. I just worry about myself. That's more than enough.

Q. You brought a new excitement to the Tour. When you're excited, you get the whole gallery geared up.

SERGIO GARCIA: That's my way of being. I'm just like that. I like to get excited and I feel like that's when I play my best golf. When things are going a little bit, everything feels easy. The crowd gets into it and, as I said before, it's nice to see the crowd pulling for you. It makes you keep trying. Even if things are not going great, it makes you try a bit harder.

Q. I know in the past some of your mannerisms and your swing and approach kind of caught some people's attention and have kind of been in the news and headlines. Have you gotten past that a little bit now, and is that something you're conscious about, talking about your waggles and stuff?

SERGIO GARCIA: I know what I have to do. I don't really -- to tell you the truth, I don't read about myself in the newspapers or anything like that. I've realized the best thing to do is just play your game and try to do the best you can. Just be yourself. That's what I try to do. If I play well, they're going to write nice things. If I don't, they're going to write not so many nice things. I don't really care much about it. I know what I want to do and that's the most important thing for me.

Q. Any thoughts on the over-40 crowd winning this year and the general state of competitiveness out there on the Tour?

SERGIO GARCIA: It shows you how much everybody is working on his game and how much they're working on fitness and things like that. It's like the over 40s have a new life now. They feel like they can play again. There's been some unbelievable play from some guys, Jay Haas and Peter Jacobsen and Freddie, and all these guys. Vijay has been playing unbelievable. It's good to see.

Q. When you first came on the Tour, you did really well, kind of made a splash and everybody automatically said you were going to be Tiger's chief rival for the next decade or whatever. Was there ever a time when you got caught up in that rather than focusing on Sergio Garcia? Was that ever a problem at all?

SERGIO GARCIA: I don't think so. I've always said I'm my own person. I know what I want to do, and I'm trying to play the best I can every week. I'm trying to win every week if I can. It doesn't matter who is in front of me. It doesn't matter if it's Tiger, it doesn't matter whoever it is. I know that if I play my best, I can beat anybody out there. I feel I'm confident enough to do that. Unfortunately, you go through some things and some up and downs and I'm just getting over one of those little downs.

Q. Getting back to Tiger and your swing, I know you didn't make the changes, you weren't trying to do it to keep up with him, but did he influence you at all? Did you talk to him about your decision to do that?

SERGIO GARCIA: Not at all, I think that's very personal. I talked to the guy who I had to talk to. That was my father and coach. We thought it was the best thing for me to do to get to the next level. We're not talking about anybody's level, we're talking about my level. We feel that was the best thing to do and we went through it. It's been coming along. Unfortunately, things are not finished yet, but when I'm hitting the ball well, it feels so much better than it felt before. It feels like the swing is solid. It feels like I know where the club is all the time, and it makes it a bit easier.

Q. Like your second shot on 14, right?

SERGIO GARCIA: That was pretty good, a little bit right, though.

Q. Do you have any lucky charm or particular ritual that you go through at all?

SERGIO GARCIA: No, not really. I'm not superstitious. I have a silver coin that I sometimes use. This guy I play with in Dallas about two years ago, he gave me this coin. He had two silver quarters, one from 1909 and one from 1910. One from when his mother was born and one when his father was born, so he gave me the 1909 one and I've been using it for a while now. But unfortunately, I have it on my other bag in Orlando and I haven't been there, so I haven't been using it lately, unfortunately.

Q. How do you feel about the local course here, and how did you play this morning?

SERGIO GARCIA: As I said before, the course is nice. It's in very good shape. The greens are rolling very nicely and the fairways are nice. This morning, at the end I played pretty nicely. At the beginning I struggled a bit. I feel like if I get some good confidence going, if I get something going at the beginning and just work on that it should be a good tournament, so I'm looking forward to having a good week.

Q. How is your level of play right now?

SERGIO GARCIA: I think it's coming along nicely. I still hit a couple of loose shots around and I have to get rid of those, but the quality of the shots are much better than what they used to be.

Q. How long does it take the jet lag to go away for you?

SERGIO GARCIA: I'm actually pretty easy with that. Usually I sleep quite a lot on the planes. I went to sleep Monday night, went to sleep probably around 10:00, 10:30 and woke up around 5:30, 6:00, and yesterday I went to sleep at 11:00 and woke up at 6:30 today. It was good.

JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Thank you Sergio.

End of FastScripts...

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