April 8, 2003
RON TOWNSEND: Welcome to the 67th Masters, and welcome Sergio. Sergio, this is his fifth Masters appearance. He finished 8th last year.
Q. Could you tell me a little bit about your partner Alejandro. Tell me about him, what he's feeling, what you've told him about getting ready for this first experience.
SERGIO GARCIA: Mainly he's really excited about it, as you always are. In your first time, it's even better. But he's looking forward to it. He's not hitting the ball too badly. I think he's hitting it quite well, quite far. So he can't wait to get started. We played 16 -- almost 17 holes together and he went back to No. 2 with my Miguel Angel Jimenez to play 7 or 8 more. So hopefully he won't get too tired.
Q. I was wondering if he wasn't feeling well or something. Did you give him sort of a pep talk? You seemed to have a lot of interplay out there.
SERGIO GARCIA: We were talking and we were just trying to see how the course was playing. I told him I played -- this is my fifth time, so I know the course a bit better than he does. So I was telling him a couple places, a couple tricky shots that you can get that you might be able to get away with around the greens. So that was about it. I just tried to have some fun.
Q. Have you invited him before as a guest, as a fan, so to speak? Have you when you were playing?
SERGIO GARCIA: He's been here one year. But, no, not that.
Q. Can you talk about where you're at with your slight swing change?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, it's getting there. It's feeling better, for the moment. I played quite solid at TPC. I just lost it a bit with the putter. And on Friday, I had a lot of chances and then finished badly. On 16 and 18, hitting it in water. But it's getting there.
I'm looking forward to this week. This is always one of those weeks where you try that bit extra hard. And hopefully my swing will come together and we will be able to have a good week.
Q. What happens when you try extra hard? Where does it show?
SERGIO GARCIA: Hopefully on anything. On everything. I don't know. I'll say probably you focus more than anything on this course, you probably focus a bit more on chip shots or some shots towards into the greens. You focus a bit more where to hit it. And knowing that sometimes you don't have to hit it straight at the pin to hit it close. So that's the beauty of the Masters, I think, that you can hit a good shot. I mean sometimes it happens, but you can hit a good shot and sometimes it goes quite far away from the pin. But to some of those type of pins you don't have to hit it straight at it to hit it close. So that's a good thing.
Q. What do you see a wet golf course doing in terms of separating the field, if at all? Or what type of player might conceivably this would help?
SERGIO GARCIA: I don't know. Tiger is always going to be there, as we all know. But it's a pity because we play Thursday. I played Thursday with Ernie, geez, and the course was playing beautiful. The greens were really firm and fast. And unfortunately, the rain came and it softened it up again. Hopefully we will get a little lucky and kind of dry it up a little bit towards the end of the week.
But there's no doubt towards the longer hitters is going to be a little -- well, it's going to be less difficult, because any guy that can carry it far is going to be having less distance to the green, because you're not going to get much roll now.
Q. How much longer would you say it's playing with how wet it is and with more rain coming?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, it is playing long. I hit a 2-iron on 18. And I hit quite a decent drive. Into the wind, cold, and uphill.
Q. What would you normally hit there?
SERGIO GARCIA: Now with the new tee and everything, for example, on Thursday we hit driver, 8-iron to the front pin. It probably would have been like a good 7 to the back pin. So it was quite a big difference. And there were some long holes out there. I know it was driver, 6-iron on the 11th, without having the wind. With the wind almost helping us.
These greens are definitely not made to hit 5- or 4-irons into the greens, if they get firm. Likely now they're a little soft. So a little softer, so we can stop it. But it's not too easy.
Q. Given the successes of Seve and Jose here, has the level of expectation on you been difficult to handle in any way?
SERGIO GARCIA: No, I don't think so. I know what I expect from myself and that's good enough for me.
Q. But you're aware, are you, of an expectation to follow in their foot steps?
SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, but I don't worry too much. I am a different player and different person, so I try my own things.
Q. You're still young but you've been on the tour for awhile, do you feel any more sense of urgency that you want to get this first major under your belt?
SERGIO GARCIA: No, it will be great. It will definitely be great to get it as soon as I can. But I think you can look at it two different ways. I mean you can look at it like, yeah, I'm really looking forward to winning, but also I'm still young and I still have plenty of years to have chances. But the sooner it comes the better it's going to be.
Q. The swing change, is it at the top of the back swing, start of the down swing, both?
SERGIO GARCIA: It's a bit start of the back swing and top of the back swing. More than anything it's a -- I used to get the club quite a bit outside and then lay it down, lay it down but not the lag. I mean, when I was on top it was quite short and quite a bit left, aiming left. Now I'm trying to go a little more in line up to the top, trying to make the swing a little longer. More towards parallel and get the club aiming a little more towards target. That helps me reduce the lag a little bit. So it goes more back in line.
I'm still going to have the lag, but it's going to be smaller. So I'll be able to control it a little better. But it's a big change. And it's not easy. I'm getting used to it a little bit and I just think it's feeling better. I'm starting to hit a lot of good shots and you still hit some poor ones, but...
Q. And this is for more consistency?
SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah.
Q. Have you got a cold?
SERGIO GARCIA: No. I just --
SERGIO GARCIA: Well it is cold out there.
Q. Could you talk about the state of your putting, how it's been this year and have you done anything different? Have you ever tried the belly putter, by the way?
SERGIO GARCIA: I did, yeah. I did in Hawaii and it felt pretty good, but I had a hard time getting the right line. I couldn't aim properly. But I think it's getting better. I've changed my stroke a little bit. I've been changing a lot of things lately. And I've changed the stroke a little bit. It's a little more consistent. And what I've been trying to do is, of course, trying to make putts, but more than anything try to put good rolls on the ball. And I know that if I'm able to put good rolls on the ball consistently, I'm going to have more chances of making putts. And then it's all speed.
Q. Was there one instance or one thing that led you to make all these changes? Just an effort to get your game to another level or what was it?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I've talked about it with my dad a bit. And we decided it was the right time. I felt like it was getting a little away from me, the other swing. So I just tried to improve it a little bit. But it's, as I said before, it's quite new. I mean it's only three, four weeks old. So I'm still working on it. And still trying to get used to it. But hopefully in the long-term it will be good.
Q. Considering all of the different factors: The weather now, the way you've been playing, how well he does on this course, how difficult is it going to be for anyone to stop Tiger?
SERGIO GARCIA: I don't know. We'll see. But you never know. You can't really tell. You never know what's going to happen. If he plays well, of course there's no doubt he's going to be up there. But you've got to play well to score on this course. And now it's maybe a little easier, although it's playing a little longer. Still if you miss some shots you're going to have some tricky up and downs around this course that if you get it going the wrong way, it can hurt you quite badly.
Q. Has decreasing the lag cost you any yardage off the tee?
SERGIO GARCIA: No, not at all. I think I'm almost hitting it farther because I'm getting the swing a little longer and it's kind of nice. I pretty much leveled it up.
Q. When you said that the course is a little bit easier, although longer, would you say that --
SERGIO GARCIA: Easier because you can hit it closer to the pin and some of the holes you're hitting shorter irons into the greens. Because if you get to this course and you're standing over it with a 9-iron and you're thinking, okay, I got to pitch this, you have a tight pin and you have to bounce it just on top of the slope. If you hit it short of the slope it's going to run back 15 yards, and you have to bounce it just on top of the slope to try to get it probably 10 feet past the hole.
Now, even if you're hitting a 8- or a 7-iron, you know that if you hit it high, the ball is pretty much going to hit and it's going to roll pretty much only five, six feet. At the most. So you decrease that accuracy that you need to bounce the ball when the greens are firm. And the ball's going to stop just a little quicker.
Q. It's only because it's wet?
SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah.
Q. Oh, okay.
RON TOWNSEND: Thank you very much. And thank you, Sergio. And good luck this week.
SERGIO GARCIA: Thank you.
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