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EDS BYRON NELSON CHAMPIONSHIP

May 15, 2004

Sergio Garcia

IRVING, TEXAS

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Sergio Garcia, third round leader, congratulations on a great first 54 holes. As the leader heading into the final round, you are also the winner of this week's Crestor Charity Challenge. The Salesmanship Youth and Family Centers of Dallas will receive $50,000 from the tournament, Crestor and yourself, and you also will receive $50,000 to give to a health-related charity of your choice, so congratulations there, and if we could start with some opening comments on your day.

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I think it was great. I think I played very nicely all day long, drove the ball very nicely. That's always important the way the course is playing this year as thick as the rough is. You know, I struck my irons nicely.

You know, I felt like I left definitely a lot of chances out there, but when you give yourself so many 8, 10, 12-footers for birdie, you're going to miss some. But I'm happy to be in the lead and looking forward to tomorrow.

Q. Talk about your birdie on 17 after not birdieing the par 5, 16th. I'm sure it was a nice way to finish the round.

SERGIO GARCIA: Definitely it was. It was a shame because I had a pretty good drive on 16 and I hit a good 2-iron. I was trying to hit into the bunker, easy up-and-down from there, and it got caught in the rough in a really bad lie. I could only hit it toward the middle of the green and take a two-putt. So after that I hit a great smooth 6-iron on 17. To tell you the truth, I did pull it a little bit, but it was still a great shot, and I probably had about 10, 12 feet down the hill and made it straight in the middle.

Q. Jerry Kelly was just in here, and he said he thinks there's a chance the scores might even be lower tomorrow than they were today. Do you agree?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, we'll see. It all depends on the weather and on how you play. Today was definitely a day to score well, but as we all know, you know, the weekends aren't easy to score, and it's a bit more pressure and a bit tougher to get around, but you've always just got to wait until tomorrow, see if the wind starts blowing like it did the first two days. I assure you that it's not going to be what's going to happen, you know, the course will be playing tough again. But if it doesn't, the greens are still fairly soft, so you can -- if you drive the ball nicely, you can still get it around.

Q. Considering the pressure, hitting all 18 greens today, what does that say about your ball striking, about your ability to step up when you need to on the weekends?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I think it means a lot for me. I've been working very hard on my game, and it's nice to see how much consistency I've gotten from all that practicing. You know, it's just a matter of waiting for it, and I'm just working hard on my putting and waiting for it to happen. As soon as I start making putts, it should be fun.

Not only today, I hit the ball well all week long. I mean, I think I missed two greens the first day and four yesterday with a howling wind, so I think that's a pretty decent stat.

Q. How long ago did the swing changes settle in and how long ago did you get tired of talking about it (laughter)?

SERGIO GARCIA: About 20 years ago (laughter).

Q. Six months?

SERGIO GARCIA: You know, as I said before a couple of times, I really felt like my game was -- I felt like my swing was feeling more and more comfortable right at the American Express last year in Atlanta. So I really felt like my game was on there, and unfortunately I putted pretty badly, but other than that, you know, I've been playing pretty decently since then. I've been putting a lot of good rounds together, you know, a couple shots here and there, but today it was a perfect example of the improvement that I've been getting on my game. It was nice to see that. I just need to get a little bit more consistency on my putting, and if I manage to do that, then it should be fun to watch.

Q. Is that pretty much what's kind of held you back from being in contention is putting since American Express?

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, a little bit. I would say so, yeah. I feel like probably really the only tournament where I didn't feel like I struck the ball the way I wanted to was probably at Buick Invitational. I felt like my game was a bit shaky there. Other than that, I felt like I put at least two or three really good ball striking rounds in every tournament, and unfortunately, I haven't taken advantage of it.

So it is a bit of a shame, but it also causes me a lot to see how well I can hit the ball. You know, it makes me not try stupid things on the course, and knowing if I want to hit it to the middle of the green, I can hit it to the middle of the green, you know, that sometimes hitting away from the pins is not easy, and I've learned to do those things, putting a good aggressive swing into the ball.

Q. Obviously today's round looks great statistically. Stats can lie, they can be accurate. Would you rank today one of your best ball-striking rounds you've had?

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, definitely. I mean, you can definitely go through a round hitting 18 greens and you hit it to 25, 30 feet every time and it's not a good round, but if you look at my round today, I haven't even thought about it, but I think I probably easily had between 10 and 12 putts for birdie inside 12, 14 feet, so I think that's pretty good stuff.

Q. As well as you've hit the ball all year, as many times as you've come off a course at the end of the round thinking maybe you could have gotten more out of your round, what do you do to keep a good attitude about it and not get --

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, you keep trying. That's the only thing you can do. You know, sometimes everything goes the right way and sometimes it doesn't. You know, you just keep trying as hard as you can.

I mean, I've gone out of the course frustrated a couple times thinking I deserve a lot more than this, but also some days you can get around thinking, well, this could have been a lot worse.

I think overall I'm happy the way things are going. It's been gradually an improvement on everything. You've also got to realize when you give yourself so many chances, you're going to miss more than some other guys. You probably feel so good about your game that you probably don't even -- you miss a putt, you don't care that much because you know you're going to get a couple -- you're going to get some more as the round goes on, and some of the guys, if they're struggling a bit, they know they have to make those putts.

Q. In your practice time are you spending more of a percentage now on working on putting and less on the full swing now that you have --

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, definitely. Unfortunately these last couple of weeks I haven't been able to practice as much as I would like to on my long game, on my wedges, that I thought I was getting pretty good at it. With the bit of the wrist injury I've had in Spain, I've been taking it easy. I don't want to overdo it, and I've putted quite a lot.

But putting is a funny thing, you know; you can be striking it absolutely perfect and there's so many things involved in putting, just confidence and getting a good read and things like that. Sometimes you might feel like you hit a great putt and you still miss it.

So it's not -- putting is totally different from the long game, and it's a lot more confidence involving that.

Q. I know your goal is to be the best player in the world. Do you need a win to prove to yourself that you are among the Top 10 now or are making that or do you know it already?

SERGIO GARCIA: No, I really don't. To myself, I really don't. It would be nice, definitely not to win one but to win as many as I can from here on.

I mean, I've proven to myself what I can do on the golf course and I've proven to myself how well I can hit the ball and how much more consistent I am and how much better my misses are. So to me that means a lot, you know, with having gone through a -- with all the practice I've been doing.

Definitely we're here to try to win, and that's what I'm going to try to do tomorrow. You know, at the end of the day, just becoming better and more consistent is what you're working on, too.

Q. How much better do you hit it now than say in 02 when you played all four majors? You hit it pretty good then.

SERGIO GARCIA: I did, yeah, definitely. But the thing is -- I was talking about this the other day, that the main key about it is not that I hit it better when I hit it well, it's that I hit it better when I'm hitting it badly. You know, before when I wasn't quite on or maybe down the stretch with a bit of adrenaline and stuff, it was probably a bit tougher for me to control my swing, whereas now I feel like everything is smoother, everything is easier. So I think that's the main key. Before when I was hitting the ball well, I was hitting it great. That hasn't changed, but the good thing about it is that now when I'm not 100 percent, you know, my shots are definitely a lot better than they used to be.

Q. And in a sentence, can you say how the swing is different now versus then? It's less flat, less lag?

SERGIO GARCIA: Actually, the funny thing, it's actually more flat than it used to be. The main thing I worked on was the takeaway. The problem before was that I would go quite a bit outside on the takeaway and that would make the club -- although I was probably swinging more upright with the club, the club get on top more laid off or aiming left, and then of course the club is shorter and aiming left, you have to recover it by -- if you want to get it on the inside, that lag I have.

Whereas now, my swing is a bit more in line and then more up. So the club, when it gets up on top, it's probably just a tiny bit longer of a swing than it used to be, but it's aiming more towards the target when it gets to the top, so I don't need as much lag to come down. The lag is something that I'm always going to have. It's my signature move (laughter). It's something that is not going to go away, but it's definitely going to get smaller as time goes by.

Q. Did you work exclusively with your dad on that?

SERGIO GARCIA: Yes.

Q. To follow up on that, your dad has been big on the swing. Has he also been working on the putting or have you been taking any tips from anybody on putting?

SERGIO GARCIA: I did a while ago last year with Jim McClain. We did for a little bit. What he told us felt pretty good. But then we took that and we worked our way through with those thoughts.

You know, just with my dad and my caddie Glenn and myself, we've been working about that. I really feel like my dad is the best teacher out there, at least for me, so I don't really need anybody else.

Q. Was he pretty satisfied with your progress, the time it took you to absorb these changes?

SERGIO GARCIA: Actually I think we're both pleased how short it took to go through all these things. You know, unfortunately my putting hasn't been as good as it should be, but if it would have, I mean, the results, you guys would have seen them a lot earlier. Ball striking wise, it took a lot less effort than I thought it was going to, and that was a great feeling.

Q. What's your schedule through the U.S. Open?

SERGIO GARCIA: I'll be playing next week, Colonial, then I'll take a week off, and then I'll come back for Memorial, Buick and U.S. Open.

Q. And your first event in Europe?

SERGIO GARCIA: British Open.

Q. When are you going to squeeze in the fourth that you need?

SERGIO GARCIA: Just after the British Open I will play a couple more and then I'll play a couple extra in Spain at the end of the season.

Q. Are you going to go the Volvo Masters?

SERGIO GARCIA: If I qualify for it, yes.

Q. What if you qualify for the Tour Championship?

SERGIO GARCIA: It's not the same week.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: If we could go through your round. You started out with a birdie on No. 3, the par 4.

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, 3, I hit a great drive with a little fade, a very nice 7-iron from I think it was 172 yards, hit it to about seven feet short of the hole, made that.

Then unfortunately on the next I hit a great drive again, hit a pretty good second with my sand wedge from 117. It was playing pretty short, and unfortunately I hit it probably about 18, 20 feet behind the hole. I hit a pretty good putt to about a couple of feet and missed that.

Then on the next, I hit a great 8-iron from 162 I think it was, hit it to about six, seven feet, made that.

Then on the next I hit a great drive down the middle. Hit a very nice 9-iron from 147 to about two feet.

Then after that on 12, I hit another good drive down the middle. I hit a great punch with a pitching wedge from 117 to -- no, 114, sorry, to about three and a half, four feet.

Then on the next, I hit a really nice cut 6-iron from 183 to about probably seven feet.

Then on 17, I hit a very nice just cut 6-iron from 193 I think it was, something like that, hit it to probably about 11 feet down the hill, made that.

Q. What is it about this tournament do you think that always lends to kind of a fairly bunched leaderboard? I don't know how many guys, maybe a dozen guys within three or four shots of the lead? It seems like it's always like this here.

SERGIO GARCIA: I don't know. I can only speak for myself this week, and I really feel like I should be leading by quite a lot more. But it's the way it goes, and it seems to be the kind of courses that if you get it going and you're hot with your putter you can really shoot low, but if you're a little bit off, you can struggle a little bit, a little more this year where the rough is a lot thicker, the fairways are a bit narrower, and fortunately we had a lot of rain. Otherwise the greens would be playing quite, quite tough.

Q. What do you think is a better threat to your lead, Tiger 3 back or Vijay 4?

SERGIO GARCIA: Myself.

Q. Where did you learn the diplomacy?

SERGIO GARCIA: I'm telling you like I feel it. Myself. I think if I don't beat myself out there, that should be okay.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Sergio, thank you.

End of FastScripts.

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