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May 14, 2004

Sergio Garcia


TODD BUDNICK: We have Sergio Garcia after a 2-under 68 today, 6-under for the tournament, two back of the lead in the clubhouse. Tiger mentioned earlier that the conditions today were a lot more difficult than yesterday. Your thoughts on that.

SERGIO GARCIA: Definitely. They were definitely a lot tougher. It was a bit windier, but I think the main reason was that the wind was much colder. Yesterday, although it was windy, because it was warm, you could still hit it through the wind easier. The wind wasn't moving the ball as much. But today being as cold as it was this morning, you know, you could see that the wind was taking the ball up more. It was tougher to get it going into the wind. You know, I felt like I played very well, more than anything on the tough holes starting, first six, seven holes.

Unfortunately I made a little bogey there, but -- a couple little bogeys, but I came back nicely at the end.

TODD BUDNICK: You've had some success here in the past, two Top 10s, a T3 in 1999 and T8 in 2001, but then the last two years you missed the cut. Are you happy to be back in contention.

SERGIO GARCIA: Definitely. Every time you're back in contention, no matter where, you're always happy. I'm definitely happy that I'm back there. I definitely feel like I should be a lot better than I am at the moment, but that's the way it is, and that's why this game is so tough.

Q. Just curious, for most Americans, this is really where everyone got to know you, 99 here. You hit that great 3-iron on 18?

SERGIO GARCIA: It was a 7-iron (laughter).

Q. Does it feel like five years to you has gone by?

SERGIO GARCIA: To tell you the truth -- to you it feels like a long time I can see (laughter). To tell you the truth, it feels like it was two days ago. If you start thinking about it, you know, I do feel like I've been playing professionally for quite a while, but you know, when you go back to those memories, they do feel like they were yesterday.

You know, it's fun to go back to a place where you've done well. It was my first time as a pro here, and I was fortunate enough to have a great week. You know, it's great fun. I've always enjoyed coming back here, and I'm looking forward to having a good weekend.

Q. Did you play the Pro-Am here? When did you play here in the practice round, Pro-Am round?

SERGIO GARCIA: No, I played the Pro-Am at Cottonwood.

Q. Did you play here this week before the tournament?

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, Tuesday.

Q. Do you have any examples of shots that you hit in your practice round Tuesday and what you had to hit today because of the wind?

SERGIO GARCIA: No, it was totally different.

Q. Do you recall holes where you might have been hitting wedge and today you were hitting something a lot longer?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, to give you an example, on 3, you know, we were hitting 8-irons, 9-irons. Today I ripped my driver, ripped my 2-iron and I was probably about seven yards short of the green. You know, I made a good 4, although it was a par, it felt like a birdie there.

I remember I hit a smooth, a very little 9 into 5 on Tuesday. I hit a ripped 6-iron today to a front pin.

7, we were hitting 7-irons into the green for a second, and today I missed the fairway, but you had to rip it with a driver, rip it with a 3-wood to get there in two. It was definitely playing a lot different. It was playing much shorter. We were hitting 7-irons to front pin, I hit 7-iron to a front pin on Tuesday, and today if I would have hit a good drive, I probably would have hit probably a pitching wedge or a sand wedge to a back pin.

The course was playing definitely a lot different, and I think -- I definitely think that with this wind it's a lot harder for that course, this kind of wind. Probably the first six, seven holes become much, much tougher, and then the good thing is that then you have 15, 16, 17 and 18 that are playing a little bit easier, a bit more downwind. I definitely think it's a tougher wind on the south one.

Q. You've been going through some swing changes over the last couple of years. The last round you played at Augusta and now here, do you feel like you've pretty much engrained those changes?

SERGIO GARCIA: No, I've been talking about this for quite a while, and it's not about having a good round at Augusta. Of course, that helps, but I really feel like my game has been in very good shape for quite a while now, probably since American Express last year. That's when it really kicked in, and I felt like I was striking the ball nicely. I just need to keep improving my putting. If I do that, then I'll be in good shape.

You know, I'm giving myself so many opportunities of making birdie and hitting so many greens and so many fairways that it definitely makes it a lot easier, but when you don't make putts, it's a bit frustrating.

TODD BUDNICK: Your birdies and your bogeys?

SERGIO GARCIA: I birdied 2. I hit a really good 6-iron from 193, left to right wind, hit it to about probably five, five and a half feet.

Then on 8, I hit a bad drive, hit it right, had to chip out, hit a sand wedge to the middle of the green and two-putted. That was a pretty weak bogey.

Then after that, I actually hit a pretty good shot on 13. I hit a good low 7-iron straight into the wind from 152, think it was, 153, and I hit just on top and just rolled back -- I hit my first putt just a little too hard, hit it to about five and a half, six feet by and didn't make that one.

Then on 15, hit a good 3-wood off the tee, hit a very nice 7-iron from 183, hit it to about probably seven feet, made that one.

Next one, hit another good drive, hit a horrible second, hit it like a million yards behind the ball with my 3-iron. It was actually a great layup. So I hit 3-iron but I hit it very bad. I don't know what happened. So then I had like 55 yards. I hit my third probably about 12 feet behind the hole, 10 feet, made that. So it was nice to see a little putt going in there.

Then hit a good shot on 17 but did not make it.

And then on 18 I hit a good drive down the middle, hit a nice punch 9-iron from 142 and hit it to about 16 feet and made that.

Q. Just in terms of keeping the momentum going, making that putt at 16 after you had hit your layup shot, to kind of cover that up with a birdie, how was that emotionally for keeping the round going?

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, it was -- that was definitely nice, but more than anything, the putt on 15 because I had a lot of good chances starting on, and then at the beginning of the back nine, so that was definitely nice because you're down there with a 3-iron to that green, it's not an easy shot because the pin is quite tight right and you can't miss it right but you don't want to leave with a par, and to make that putt was definitely key to keeping my round going for the next couple of holes.

Q. What's your schedule leading up to Shinnecock?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I'll be playing next week, and then I have a week off, and then I'll play Memorial, Buick and then U.S. Open.

Q. And even if the results don't show it, do you feel you're a better player than say three years ago?

SERGIO GARCIA: Definitely.

Q. Why?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, mainly I feel like probably my driving stats are similar or maybe not as good as they were. I do feel like I'm driving the ball pretty nicely. But more than anything, greens in regulation. My iron play is miles better than it used to be. You know, my good shots, of course, before, they were great, but my bad shots are so much better. You know, I miss it more often on the right side, and even my bad shots usually end up most of them on the green. So that makes a big difference.

More than anything, I'll probably say that my wedge game has improved a lot, too, in probably the past five or six months, from 120, 125 yards in, I'm getting up-and-down a lot more often than I used to. Those are little things that can really change, that can really get you going. A couple of shots here and there can make a big difference at the end of the week.

Q. When you started the U.S. Open at Southern Hills, was that your first or did you do one prior?

SERGIO GARCIA: My first one was Pebble Beach.

Q. In the four that you've played, what have you learned about the U.S. Open?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, you know, every major you have to be very patient, there's no doubt. U.S. Open I think even more. Driving the ball nicely, be committed to your tee shots, I think it's key, because if you drive it most of the times in the fairway, you've gained a lot there.

You know, just be smart around the course. You know what the course is going to be, so don't do anything stupid. Sometimes you might hit a 9-iron and you maybe get too aggressive. You know, you might hit a good shot and you hit it three yards too far right and you're looking at a bogey, and if you hit the same shot but you hit it more towards the middle of the green and you leave yourself a 15-footer, even if you hit a 9-iron and it's not the greatest of shots or it might not feel like the greatest of shots, you still have a chance at making birdie and you probably are not going to make worse than par, so just keeping that streak of pars and not making many mistakes I think is key on a U.S. Open.

Q. Considering where you are, how much are you looking forward to this weekend?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I'm looking forward to this weekend as I'm looking forward to every weekend. You know, I think it's great. I feel like my game is in a very good position at the moment, and I just need to get it going a little bit, and if I do, I should have a good chance of winning, and if not, just keep working on it. There's nothing else you can do.

Q. Have you ever hit a persimmon wood?

SERGIO GARCIA: I have, yes.

Q. At what age?

SERGIO GARCIA: I did hit them probably when I was seven or eight years old.

Q. Is that the last time?

SERGIO GARCIA: Yes (laughter).

Q. Are you going to get a round in at Shinnecock before the Open week?

SERGIO GARCIA: No, I'm going to go back to Spain and sit back for a while and relax.

Q. The week of Buick you wouldn't sneak over there on Monday or Tuesday?

SERGIO GARCIA: No. We play so much, our little Mondays, relaxed Mondays, are key to us, at least to me.

Q. I saw some comments in the Charlotte paper I think it was last week about going back to Spain. Knowing how much it means to you and how comfortable you are there, do you see yourself staying at your house at Lake Nona just when you're maybe between three-week stretches on Tour?

SERGIO GARCIA: I'll definitely stay once in a while. I think one key thing that I have to figure out to make my house at Lake Nona, make it more worth it going there, I think it's getting a nice group of friends that I can hang around with because what I feel that I have in Spain that I don't have in Orlando, although I love staying in Orlando and I think it's a great city, I don't have that group of friends that I can disconnect totally from golf, and that's something that I really need. Some of the guys might think differently, but that's the way I am.

Going back to Spain and just -- you know, just keep doing things and not stop until 10:00 at night every day, it's great, and that's something that unfortunately I don't have in Orlando. You know, in Orlando, all my friends are golf friends, and you don't get out of that atmosphere.

Yeah, unfortunately I can't disconnect. It gets to a time where I have nothing else to do. You know, I'll watch a movie, work out, practice a little bit. It gets to a point where I don't know what to do, and that's something that I don't have in Spain. In Spain I always have something to do other than golf.

Q. How many close friends do you have in Spain and how many of them play golf?

SERGIO GARCIA: You know, friends-friends, you can pretty much -- you can count how many friends you have on probably one hand. But as friends that I hang around and I can have fun with, I probably have a whole bunch. I probably have 15 or 20 that I can do things with. You know, probably three or four are involved in golf, three or four are involved in tennis, four or five more are involved in soccer. I've got a lot of things to do when I go back there, and that's the beauty of it. That's why I love going back there so much.

Q. What are some of the things that you do there, what kind of things?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, just, for example, when I went back, cycling, I go out cycling, just go up and down the mountains, play tennis, soccer, go to the movies, go swim, go to the beach, anything. You know, there's so many things that I can do other than my routine that I have to go through, working out and practicing a bit of golf and stuff. You know, that's something that unfortunately at the moment I only have in Spain, and I have to figure out a way of finding some other things to do around the world when I'm traveling.

Q. By the end of the year, who's going to spend more time at their house in Lake Nona, you or Ernie?

SERGIO GARCIA: I would definitely say Ernie, although I spent quite a good amount of time at the beginning of the year. He spends more time. It's different when you have a family. When you have a family, you hang around with your kids and time just goes by. You know, I don't have that. I'm not saying that I want it at the moment, but it all will come.

TODD BUDNICK: Thank you, Sergio.

End of FastScripts.

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