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MERCEDES CHAMPIONSHIPS

January 7, 2003

Sergio Garcia

KAPALUA, HAWAII

MODERATOR: Sergio, I'm sure it's great to be back here in Maui to celebrate your championship here. You started off well here last year in 2002.

SERGIO GARCIA: I certainly did. I'm looking forward to hopefully

repeat this week. It's a great place. I love it. I really like the course. Looking forward to having another good week. Let's see if we can make the garage a little bigger (laughter).

Q. What do you have for expectations this year?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, same thing. I'm going to try to finish on the top on the Money List, hopefully try to win a major. If I don't do the first one, I'll try to finish the best I can.

You know, just keep trying to improve, be a little more consistent, if I can, just keep getting better.

Q. You made the comment last year that you like to win on both sides of the ocean, which was a goal, turned into somewhat of a prediction. Do you follow me?

SERGIO GARCIA: You mean winning both Money Lists?

Q. Yes.

SERGIO GARCIA: Yes.

Q. Is that a goal again this year?

SERGIO GARCIA: Yes.

Q. Is it doable?

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah.

Q. How many do you have to play? How do you balance both sides?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I said last year, I'll say this year, too, you got to do real well in world tournaments and majors. Those are the ones that give you the most money. It helps you go up there in the rankings.

But you've just got to be consistent. I think if you do that, you can do it. Look at Retief last year. He won the -- I think he only one tournament in Europe. You can do it. It's tough. It's really difficult. You got to play well all year long. That's always hard to do.

But it's a good goal to aim at. As I said before, if you don't get to that, just try to get as close as possible. It will still be a great year.

Q. You're the only player that finished in the Top 10 in all four majors. Do you look at that and say, "I'm sort of nested in a place where I know I can compete. Now it's time to start winning a couple of these"?

SERGIO GARCIA: I knew before this year that I can compete in majors, because I've done it.

Q. But you were more consistent at it last year.

SERGIO GARCIA: I was, yes. That's always great. That's something that you look for. But until you get the No. 1 spot, it's still not good enough. I'm still working on that. Hopefully I'll be able to do it.

Q. You said last year, near the end of the year, that you weren't going to compete as much as you did this year on both sides; you were going to try to limit your events.

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah. I can't limit it anymore. If I do, then I don't maintain my card.

Q. But here you're going to change your schedule somewhat.

SERGIO GARCIA: Just a couple tournaments. Instead of playing 21, I'll probably play 19, something like that.

Q. Your goal that you talk about, isn't that going to be even more difficult?

SERGIO GARCIA: Just got to do better in the ones you play. You just got to be more consistent. You have to make a lot of Top 10s, win as many as you can. I mean, Tiger is playing 18 tournaments a year. He's winning it. Why not?

Q. Would you say you weren't as consistent start to finish as you'd like last year?

SERGIO GARCIA: You know, actually I feel like last year was a pity, I really do.

Q. Last year was what?

SERGIO GARCIA: Was a pity, it was a shame. Sorry, my English is not that good. Or maybe your English is as bad as mine (laughter).

I really felt like I started the year probably the first six months playing really well. Unfortunately, I was putting badly. I was just hitting bad putts. You know, when you get into that mood, it's tough to get it going.

You know, even like that, I gave myself a lot of chances to win. Unfortunately, because I didn't putt as well, I didn't win as many times as I should have, or at least as I feel that I should have. But, you know, I've been working hard on it, just looking forward to see some improvement in there. If I keep putting myself in those kind of positions, I come through a little easier. It's just that bit of extra confidence that you always need.

Q. Change your mindset any that Tiger is not in the field this week?

SERGIO GARCIA: No, not at all. You're still in for the same spot. If Tiger is in the field, you still aim for the No. 1 spot.

Q. Can you talk about your equipment, new balls?

SERGIO GARCIA: Excuse me?

Q. Sometimes some people change the clubs and balls and will play better.

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, there's no doubt about it. I worked really hard with TaylorMade and Maxfli. I think we've done a really great job. We're been working for the last three and a half months. We came through with what I think is a great ball. I'm actually really looking forward to test it, see how it works, how it feels in tournament play. I'm actually really excited. I like the equipment I have. I really like my clubs. I like my driver. I'm pretty confident with the ball, too.

I just can't wait to hopefully play well. You have to realize that some people also play badly. If you play badly, you can't get good equipment (laughter).

Q. With Tiger out for maybe a couple months, do you see it as a chance to get on the Money List, get a bit of a jump in that race? Do you look at it that way at all?

SERGIO GARCIA: There's still guys out there that can play really well. I mean, you have Ernie, you have Vijay, you have Retief. There's a lot of good players that can do well. I mean, there's no doubt that, yes, of course, if you play three or four tournaments before he starts, well, that's something you have ahead. But you don't really focus on that. You just focus on playing well yourself, not what the other guys are doing.

Q. He's won like the last four in a row. The assumption would be if you finish ahead of him, you're probably doing pretty good as it relates to the Money List.

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, there's no doubt if you win the Money List here in the States, you're doing really well because Tiger is always playing well. If you get to have a year like the one he has, it's always a good year.

Q. If you had to pick the most natural rival for him, would it be Ernie because of the majors, Mickelson because of the world ranking, or you because of the age?

SERGIO GARCIA: All three (laughter). The long way, myself, because I'm younger. I think Ernie has showed that he's a great player. You know he's up for the challenge. Phil has been finishing second on the Money List. We all aim at the same thing. Everybody has their own little characteristics. I look at myself because of the youth. I have more years to come.

Q. Do you have to win a major to be considered a true rival to him?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I'll win it. I don't know when. Hopefully this year. You know, there's no doubt that that's what we aim for; we aim for majors. If you don't, if you end up your career without winning a major, there's a little spot in your heart that's a little empty. We try to do that. I'm confident that I'm going to win hopefully more than one.

Q. When you look at some of these young guys, Charles Howell, some others, you're younger than all of them. You're 23 this week?

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah.

Q. How long does it feel like you've been out here? When people say "young players," do you actually look at yourself that way?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I do look at myself as being a young player. Probably the most experienced young player on the TOUR because, you know, I've played here for three and a half years, a little more, three years and eight months, something like that. That's something that I have ahead of some of the guys.

But to tell you the truth, I don't consider myself to be in the young guns group, and nobody does. When you see media talking, you guys don't consider me a young gun anymore, so it's good.

Q. Now that you're an old man at 23.

SERGIO GARCIA: Not yet. I'm still young for a couple days (laughter).

Q. Two days?

SERGIO GARCIA: I have two days to be old.

Q. How are you different than you were when you first came out here, playing, your approach to the game?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I have four years more experience of high-quality golf. Where I'm playing is the best level you can get to play. You're playing with the best players in the world. The experience you get at that level is the best one you can look for. I learned a lot of things. I thank God for that. I'm really happy the way everything has been going. I'm just looking forward to keep improving, keep getting better and better, you know, just become the best player I can become.

I'm working on that, and we'll see what happens.

Q. What is your schedule between now and the Masters?

SERGIO GARCIA: If I only knew.

Q. Sorry?

SERGIO GARCIA: If I only knew. I'm going to play, that's for sure. I'll play the first three. I'll take a couple weeks off, go down to Australia, as I do every year, then I'll be back for the Matchplay. That's about it.

Q. You've never been someone who has really held Tiger in great awe. Do you think there's too much of that going on, too many guys think he's too good?

SERGIO GARCIA: I don't know. I know what I think. I think he's a great player, probably going to be the best player ever. Hopefully I'll try to make that not possible myself. But I think he's no doubt a wonderful player. But I know what I got to do. I know what my goals are, what I want to achieve. That's about it.

Myself, I'm not going to give him more credit than he deserves. He's a wonderful player, but that's it for me. I believe in myself.

Q. How much did last year help your confidence level going into this year?

SERGIO GARCIA: I think my confidence is up there. It's right where I want it to be. I'm really looking forward. I had a nice break. I'm looking forward to start the season. You know, I'm excited. I'm excited about everything I've been going through. I'm excited about playing with the new equipment. Hopefully I'll have a great year, just keep going up. That's what you try every year.

But confidence is good.

Q. There's been so much made good, the change in galleries. You went through an interesting experience at Bethpage and at The Ryder Cup. How do you feel about the way galleries are going?

SERGIO GARCIA: Do you think the galleries at The Ryder Cup were bad?

Q. No. They were lively.

SERGIO GARCIA: What do you mean by "lively"?

Q. Enthusiastic.

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah. But they were polite.

Q. Bethpage, they obviously weren't. Seems to be more and more in that direction.

SERGIO GARCIA: Seems to be going. But, I mean, if they are as polite, as they were at The Ryder Cup, they can get as happy as they want. You hit a good shot, they can clap as long as they want. When the other guy is playing, they know they have to be quiet. It's just respect for the players.

I think they know what they have to do. The people is definitely smart enough out there to know how to handle themselves on the golf course. It's something that's really only happened a couple times. Even there they really weren't that bad. You have a couple guys that make a lot of noise, it seems like the crowd is bad, but not at all.

Q. This question doesn't relate to you since you're still a young man.

SERGIO GARCIA: In a couple days you can tell me.

Q. (Inaudible)?

SERGIO GARCIA: As I said before, if you end your career without winning a major, more than anything, the good players, the high-quality players, there's something empty. You feel like there's a spot in your body or in your heart that is empty. But, I mean, you can be a really great player without winning a major, but you're always going to miss that bit.

Q. Do you think someone's place in history can be perceived as a great player unless they win a major - not very good, but great?

SERGIO GARCIA: Myself, I can see somebody as a great player without winning a major. Other people, I don't know.

Q. But you would consider someone?

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, definitely. I mean, they still have a lot of time. If for whatever reason somebody goes on one of those -- one of those great players goes on without, unfortunately, winning a major in their careers, still they win a gazillion tournaments on TOUR, 45 tournaments on TOUR, if -- that's the beauty of the majors. That's why those four tournaments are different, because they're not easy to win. You need to get a little lucky, you need to have a little extra thing in your -- extra belief in yourself that you can do it. It's just got to be the right moment. Sometimes you play well enough, but somebody else comes.

Q. Did you take more confidence out of Medinah or Bethpage?

SERGIO GARCIA: I'll probably say Bethpage because Medinah, I just came on TOUR, everything was beautiful, everything was going along. Bethpage was more of a little fight myself. Those weeks, you really learn a lot. I think that I matured a lot that week myself.

Q. What did you learn that week?

SERGIO GARCIA: I learned how to be stronger mentally, just believe in myself. Those are things that you only learn by playing, by going through tough times. That was a sweet tough time. It was a tough time, but it felt good.

Q. If had you to pick three of the Top 5 finishers in this tournament, just throw out three names?

SERGIO GARCIA: Myself, I hope; Ernie; and, I don't know, probably Vijay or Goose. There's a lot of them. Charles.

End of FastScripts....

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