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May 16, 2004

Sergio Garcia


TODD BUDNICK: We welcome 2004 EDS Byron Nelson Champion Sergio Garcia. Sergio, certainly not at easy as you would have liked it to go today, but congratulations on your victory.

SERGIO GARCIA: Thanks a lot.

TODD BUDNICK: Talk a little bit about your round today and what you were thinking of.

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, you know, I actually felt good all day. I felt like there was a couple shots where I didn't commit as well as I was committing throughout the whole tournament, but I still felt like I executed the shots the way I wanted to. You know, I was trying to play aggressively but on a smaller way. I was trying to take the errors out of my card. You know, I felt like I did pretty good other than a couple holes.

But it was tough out there. The wind was blowing. It wasn't a consistent wind, either. It was switching back and forth. I hit a lot of good -- a lot of shots that I felt they deserved a lot better than they did, and I had two or three shots that felt like I should have been 12, 15 feet away from the hole, and maybe they ended up being 25 or 30.

But I hung in there and I give all the credit they deserve to Robert and Dudley. I think they played two great rounds, and unfortunately what happened happened on 18, but that's the way it goes.

TODD BUDNICK: It's been a little over two years since your last victory. At any point were you starting to wonder?

SERGIO GARCIA: No, I really wasn't worried at all. You know, I felt like my game was good enough to get something going, and I had some chances. I had a good chance on 13, I had a good chance on 14. Unfortunately I hit my tee shot just a little right on 15 and didn't get the best of breaks, but I made bogey and hit a good shot on the next and left it short with the putter.

17 was playing tough. I thought, if you want to make birdie making a 25- or 30-footer, don't get too aggressive on this one. I felt like I played that hole pretty smartly.

Then on 18, I hit another good drive and not the best of seconds, but that putt I hit, I thought it had a chance for a long time. Unfortunately it didn't go in, but we are still here.

TODD BUDNICK: It's a place where you played your first professional tournament on the PGA TOUR. How special is it to come back and win, especially at the Byron Nelson?

SERGIO GARCIA: It is special, no doubt about it. As you all know, it's of course where I started my career here in the U.S. Byron has been such a great supporter for the game of golf and also for the Tour, and he's been very good to me, too. He's always said nice things about me.

You know, it means a lot to win his tournament. He's a wonderful man and I can't wait to keep playing and hopefully win it more times.

Q. Does the win validate the swing changes in a way?

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, but you know, I'm through with that. I know what's going on and I know how I felt out there. I felt like I was in pretty good control. I felt like the swing held on pretty nicely, probably a couple mental errors, but other than that, I felt like I executed -- I played around the way I wanted.

You know, it's tough because --

Q. Not just today but I meant the whole week.

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, definitely. It's difficult because I didn't putt at my best. I definitely didn't make a lot of putts this week. I was fortunate enough to make a couple really nice par putts coming in and that kept me going a little bit, but unfortunately when I had my birdie chances I didn't take them.

You know, it feels good overall. I feel very happy with my game. I still have got to work on a couple things, but it was a great tournament and a good field. It feels good to be on top.

Q. The swing felt second nature starting when, late last year?

SERGIO GARCIA: Right around September, around American Express week.

Q. What's the emotion like, Sergio, when -- I imagine you're thinking you're probably going to the next playoff hole and the next minute you've got a foot and a half left for the win?

SERGIO GARCIA: You know, I was trying to -- more than anything, I knew that Dudley had a very difficult up-and-down, so I knew that he had to do something special to make a 4. My putt was pretty simple, and I knew Robert's putt was a tough one, too, to get the speed. I thought he hit a great putt, though. He left himself about a four-and-a-half, five-footer. I didn't hit my best of putts. I wasn't too aggressive, but I didn't expect him to miss it.

You know, that's the nature of the game. There's a lot of things involved there. You know, the little man on your shoulder telling you what to do and what not to do and things like that, those four- or five-footers, they become a bit longer. You know, I felt bad for them because they're great guys and good friends of mine, but unfortunately somebody had to win.

Q. What exactly did you hear the spectators say on 18 and how were you able to just ignore it and go on?

SERGIO GARCIA: It was just a stupid comment, some guy just said, "Sergio, you're not going to win." I didn't even look at him. I was just trying to focus on what I was doing.

I hit a great drive, so I knew that I had a chance to close it, and then I felt very calm on the playoff. I felt really good. I ripped my drive. I hit it just a hair too far left but was fortunate enough to stay on the first cut, and then you all saw what happened.

Q. Was it on the tee when you were playing 18?

SERGIO GARCIA: Right when I was walking towards my second shot on regulation.

Q. You said yesterday that the guy you felt like you most had to beat was going to be yourself. Did you feel like that was the case today?

SERGIO GARCIA: Definitely, yeah. More than anything, as well as I've been driving the ball, I don't know why, I've been so comfortable with my little fade with the driver. I don't know why, there were a couple occasions that I just didn't trust it, and that cost me on 8 and 12 are the holes that come to mind.

So those were two drives that -- I really felt like I've been hitting well every week, well, all week long. You know, I had a bit of lack of concentration or something.

You know, I felt like I fought my way through. I tried as hard as I could and I had a chance to win it on 18. I hit a good putt, didn't make it, and then I had another chance to win it on 18 and I had the short putt to win it, so everything was okay.

Q. Aside from the work that you've done on your game, how important was it for you to get a win? I mean, it's been two years, especially against such a strong field.

SERGIO GARCIA: It was definitely important, but I don't really look at it that way. I'm not here to try to win every week if I can and as many tournaments as I can. At the end of the day I'm trying my hardest, and sometimes things go right and sometimes they don't. A couple breaks here and there throughout a tournament are huge. You know, I just waited for them to happen, and fortunately enough it happened this week.

Q. The finish at Augusta, the last 12 I think you were 8-under. Did that help with some confidence for you?

SERGIO GARCIA: It did definitely. To do well on the last round of a major like I did, it definitely helped, but more than anything, I felt like I've been playing well all year. I felt like I put some really good ball striking rounds. Probably I haven't got the most out of them, but I'm working my way through. I've just got to keep that positive attitude and be as patient as I've been this week. If I manage to do that, things get better and better.

Q. You said you made a couple mental mistakes today. What did you think your biggest mental mistake was and what was the most important shot of the day in holding your round together?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, the couple mental mistakes I did were, as I said, tee shot on 8 and tee shot on 12 because I've been hitting my drive extremely well. I just changed to the new R7, Taylor Made R7. It's a great club and I've been feeling really nicely the way I've been working the ball, and unfortunately I didn't trust it. I don't know why. It's one of those things that the game gives you and the game has.

But that putt I made on 12 was big for par. I felt like that was a huge putt. Unfortunately I wasn't able to convert any of the ones on 13, 14 and 16. Those were my best chances. But I felt like the game was there and that's why I felt so comfortable on the course.

Q. Even though you didn't get the most out of your putting, which I think you would agree, people always say winning breeds winning, winning breeds confidence. Would you agree with that?

SERGIO GARCIA: Definitely, no doubt about it. Winning is always great. That's what we all work for and that's what I've been working for for quite a while. It feels great to -- before the Mercedes -- after the Mercedes Championship, I did win. Last year I won in South Africa. That gave me a lot of confidence, as well. Those are little things that really get you going a little bit.

It was funny because I felt like when I had to make a putt, I made it, but then when it was maybe a little bit easier I'd miss them. It's funny how the game goes.

Q. If we could go back five years ago when you made your pro debut on this Tour, if you would have been told in five years you would have won four times on this Tour, six or seven other times around the world, played in three Ryder Cups, are you now where you thought you would have been five years ago, a little bit ahead, not where you would have expected?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I definitely would have liked to have been a little bit better, more than anything, the way I started. But when I turned pro, of course you hope for the best but you don't know what to expect. I definitely would have been happy the way things are now. You know, we're never satisfied and we always want more, so sometimes maybe we get a bit too greedy.

Q. How much momentum does this give you, winning before The Colonial? I mean, you've won there.

SERGIO GARCIA: It's great. It's definitely a boost of confidence. But I'm going to take it easy next week and just keep enjoying it like I've been and hopefully keep improving things.

I like that course. I've done well there, so I'm looking forward to it.

Q. When you started hitting all the fairways and all the greens, how stressful was it 8 through 12 where you looked to have been struggling a little bit?

SERGIO GARCIA: Actually I wasn't feeling that bad. You know, as I said before, I felt like I did hit a couple bad shots, but I felt like most of the shots were pretty good. You know, I felt like I played the 9th hole nicely. The wind switched on me on the second shot. That's why the 8-iron went a bit long.

On 10, I felt like I hit a good drive and unfortunately it just caught the edge of the bunker and had a pretty bad lie and hit a great putt and unfortunately didn't make it.

11, I played it pretty nicely, just pulled it a bit with a sand wedge, but I managed a good par. I managed a great putt on 12, and after that, I felt a bit more in control again.

Other than a couple swings, I don't think that anything else was wrong.

Q. During the playoff did you think about going ahead and tapping in and just going ahead and taking the 4 before Damron putted or was there somewhere that you would have been in somebody's line if you would have played first there or you wanted to wait and look at the putt?

SERGIO GARCIA: I think I would have been close to Dudley's line, and I definitely didn't want to step on his line, although he was fighting for 5. Worse things have happened. If he makes his and we both miss, you know, we still would be playing out there.

I felt like marking the ball and taking my time was the right thing to do, and then that's what happened.

Q. When you were on 17 and saw Tiger's long putt go in, did you know what that was for and were you thinking he might give you a little wave or just a little tip of the cap or something?

SERGIO GARCIA: I knew it was for a 2.

Q. Did you know where that put him in the -- where he was on the board?

SERGIO GARCIA: You know, he didn't go all that wild, so I knew he wasn't at 10. But I was more focused on my shot because that is one scary hole there. On a Sunday you're hitting 6-iron into the wind off the left, water on the right short, so I was focused on trying to hit a good solid shot and hopefully make a long putt like he did.

I knew that he still had to play 18, and yeah, if you drive it well on 18 you can make a birdie, but unfortunately for him, he hasn't been driving it all that great.

So I knew what I had to do, and I knew that if I hit a good tee shot on 18 I was going to have a chance to win it, so that's what happened. Unfortunately I didn't hit it too close, but I ended up winning, so it can't get better than that.

Q. Going to Shinnecock, what feels better, the confidence of having won here or knowing that your ball striking is basically U.S. Open ready?

SERGIO GARCIA: I think a bit of both. Definitely hitting the ball nicely like I am helps, even more in a U.S. Open. You know how crucial it is driving it well there. You know, that's one of the reasons why I love the majors so much, because it's not so much of a putting shootout. You know, you can not putt your best, and if you're striking the ball very nicely, you can still be up there in contention.

That's one of the things I really like about majors, and it makes me relax a little bit more, and probably I putt a little bit better on the majors because of that. I'm definitely looking forward to it. I'm just hoping to keep it going. I still have three great tournaments to come and I'm going to try to keep doing well in those.

Q. Your game is obviously very well-rounded. Some would say maybe the putter is not the most consistent part of your game. Do you feel like those issues have been more emotional or mechanical with your putter?

SERGIO GARCIA: I definitely feel like they've been more emotional. I feel like I haven't been as confident as I should with the putter because I have hit good putts. It's such a thin line between feeling like you're going to make it and feeling a bit shaky.

I feel like I'm striking a lot of good putts, and it's just a matter of believing in myself because I go on the Pro-Ams and I make putts, I go on the practice rounds and I make putts and it feels good, so I've just got to go to the course and believe it. If I do that, then I know I'm a good putter, so I'm not worried about it.

Q. This helps, doesn't it, winning?

SERGIO GARCIA: Definitely.

Q. Just to change gears a little bit under the heading of cuisine, when was the last time you had an extraordinary plate of paella?

SERGIO GARCIA: I actually was lucky enough to have it just before I came back here to play Wachovia. I spent some nice three weeks at home and I'd definitely say I gained a couple pounds. You know, when your mom starts cooking for you, you can never say no.

Q. Do you feel like your game right now is better than it was when you were ranked in the top 5 of the world?

SERGIO GARCIA: Definitely.

Q. Because?

SERGIO GARCIA: Probably my confidence with my putting is not as good as it was, but my game, my confidence with the long game, it's miles better. I mean, the way I approach it, knowing that I might not be putting my best, in my head I have things so clear, the way I want to play the hole, where I want to hit it and not make stupid things, whereas before when I didn't putt well I would go crazy and try to hit it every time. I know what I have to do around the course, and that definitely comes from having confidence on yourself and on your swing.

Q. You mentioned Byron earlier and how special it is to win an event with his name on it. Since you started playing here or maybe even before, how many times -- has he written you any notes or anything like that? And also what did he say after the win today?

SERGIO GARCIA: All the good things. After yesterday's round when he was sitting out there in the chair and I went to say hi, he said some nice things to me, just all positive things. He said I'm really happy the way you're going. I'm really proud of you about the way you've committed to improve your game. It looks like you're swinging it great, looks like you're playing very nicely. So those little comments, coming from a person as big as Byron, that means so much, at least to myself.

I'm really proud that I had the chance of meeting him, and unfortunately I never had the chance of meeting Bobby Jones or Ben Hogan or some of those other guys, those great players, but it's something special.

TODD BUDNICK: If we could just go through your card. We'll start with the birdie on 1.

SERGIO GARCIA: On 1 I hit a very good tee shot with a 2-iron. I hit a nice little punch wedge from 123, hit it to about 16, 17 feet behind the hole, made that. So that was a nice start.

Then on 2, I just didn't cut it with a 7-iron, hit it on the left bunker, pretty simple bunker shot. I didn't hit a bad bunker shot, hit it to about four and a half, five feet short, hit a bad putt, missed that.

Then on 7 I hit a great dive down the middle, hit a good 6-iron to the middle of the green, almost made the putt for eagle, probably about 25, 30 feet and left myself about a four-footer, made that.

Then on 8, unfortunately I pulled my driver. I did have a bit of an opening and I thought the ball was lying better than it actually was. I tried to turn it over a little about the with the 8-iron and it came out straight, left myself almost an impossible up-and-down and was fortunate enough to make 5.

Then after that, 15, you know, I did hit it just a little right with the 3-wood but I didn't feel like it was a bad shot, it was just off the fairway, and it looked like it took a pretty big bounce and went into the crowd. Unfortunately it went to land right up against the tree, so I had to chip out with a 9-iron, just hit about 60 yards or so, then hit a lob wedge from 105 yards and it came out a little bit short and two-putted.

TODD BUDNICK: You mentioned a save on 12 earlier. How far was that?

SERGIO GARCIA: The save on 12, it was probably about a 12-footer, quite a big breaker from left to right, so that was a big putt.

TODD BUDNICK: The playoff drive, into the first cut left.

SERGIO GARCIA: Smooth 8-iron from 151 a bit into the wind, didn't turn it over as I wanted, hit it to about 20, 25 feet, putted my first putt to about a foot and a half and made that right in the middle.

TODD BUDNICK: Congratulations, Sergio.

Q. Como se sientas tu victoria?

SERGIO GARCIA: Se siento muy bien in en los Estados Unidos. You creo que es muy bonito y muy especial.

End of FastScripts.

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