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THE PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP

March 25, 2004

Sergio Garcia

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLORIDA

TODD BUDNICK: Sergio, 4-under, 68. Your first round in the 60s here at the TPC.

SERGIO GARCIA: Actually, believe it or not, it's a course I've done pretty well at. I've just managed to shoot between 73 and 70 a lot of times. And I think I've shot probably out of those 13 rounds, probably four or five 70s. So they're good rounds when the course is playing tough, like today. So I managed to shoot below 70, so I can go now saying I did shoot under 70 at Sawgrass.

TODD BUDNICK: As you said, you finished T4 in 2002. Coming into this week a lot of guys were saying the greens were very hard, very fast, the rough was up high. But a couple of guys were -- there's a few numbers better that were lower.

SERGIO GARCIA: We definitely got a good draw so far. I think that this morning the course was pretty calm. And of course, you know they're going to be a bit softer in the morning. If they're firm in the morning, they're dead in the afternoon. But definitely -- we definitely had to -- but tomorrow is going to be different, and we're going to get firm greens all of the way. Today we had to manage to play about, I'll say, seven or eight holes with quite firm greens. So we'll see what happens tomorrow. But there's a lot of guys out there that are playing well.

Q. Is your game -- as you game gets back to where you want it to be and beyond, how do you feel -- could you assess right now where you are with the different parts of your game? Is it right there or has it got a ways to go?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I've still got to improve things. I've still got to improve my putting and chipping a little bit. It's getting much better, there's no doubt about that, but I've still got to manage to improve it a bit more. I've got to get more consistency on it. I think the long game is very close to where I want it to be.

Today I played exactly where I wanted it to be. When I wanted to hit it to the middle of the green, I was hitting it to the middle of the green. That's an important thing when you're playing on a tough course. When you get around this course hitting 17 greens, and the only green you miss, you miss it by three inches, it's always a pretty good thing. That means you're driving the ball well and hitting your irons pretty nicely.

Q. Have you spent much time playing with Adam Scott, and what is your general impression of his game?

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, I played with him. We played last week, practice round. I think he's a wonderful player. He's a great guy. We're good friends, and he's just getting better and better. It seems to me -- his game has always been up there. It seems to me he's driving the ball better and more than anything putting better than he used to. So he's going to be a guy to watch, and there's no doubt that he's going to be a very nice player. He is a nice player.

Q. How much of a distraction what's been going on back in Spain? How much of a distraction is that for you, and how good is it for you to go out on the course and focus on golf?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, you know, once -- I know it's very sad what happened in Madrid, but once we get on the course we're thinking about what we have to do there, and you try to leave those things behind you. But it's -- I want to say it's nice to get on the course and forget about it because you want to help and you want to make it better for all my friends in Spain and things like that. But it's something that unfortunately happened, and we've just got to move on and get through it.

Q. If you throw Tiger out of the mix, the 40-year-olds have really outperformed the 20-year-olds. How do you feel about that? And are the 20-year-olds, do you think you're poised for a run?

SERGIO GARCIA: How do you take Tiger out of it? That is like saying, well, if you take Jay Haas or Vijay. So if you take Vijay out of the mix, from the 40 years old --

Q. Well, here's my point (laughter).

SERGIO GARCIA: Let's see your point.

Q. Other than Tiger, you lead the 20-year-olds with three wins, and Chad with two and Rory with two, and no one else that's 20 has more than two.

SERGIO GARCIA: It's not easy to win. When you're 40 or 45 you've had more chances of winning, to start with. You've been playing for a long time. And you're mature, you've got a lot more experience. But a lot of these guys have just come to the Tour. Adam Scott is one year old here. He started playing on the PGA TOUR full-time last year, I think. I don't know, if you look at Charles Howell, he's been playing well. He probably should have won more than once, as he's done.

But it's not easy to win. And you win by being there a lot of times and losing some and winning some. And I really think that the 20-year-olds are doing pretty well. I think there's some good quality of players coming out and golf is pretty safe.

Q. You're kind of reaching into the young veteran stage now, and players have talked forever about how they just keep gathering knowledge, how they keep -- how it affects their patience and everything. From your standpoint do you feel that your mental approach to the game has evolved? Are you more a patient guy now? Are you as liable to take some chances as you might have taken three or four years ago?

SERGIO GARCIA: It all depends on how you're feeling and how the course is playing. There's no doubt that I'm a lot more mature. Thankfully I have a very good caddy and a very good family that more than anything my dad -- we talk about the rounds and we talk about things to do and not to do, and I try to listen quite a bit. So I've been fortunate with that.

I've learned to let it happen a bit more and not force it sometimes. Like, for example, today I was 1-under and I'm hitting good shots, a lot of them to the middle of the green, just trying to make sure to stay at least at 1-under and maybe make a couple 12-, 15-footers, and when I think I'm going to shoot one or two under, I go boom, boom, boom and I shoot four. When you manage to do those things, you let it happen. It's going to happen eventually. I'll just try to keep my day as well as today.

Q. Does that help to cut down what you lose on the bad holes, where the 7s now become 5s?

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, and it's hard, because sometimes -- like, for example, today I'm hitting 5-irons into 11 and 16 and I managed not to birdie any of them. And it's hard because you get off those holes thinking I should have made a birdie, at least one, and -- but things happen, and the good thing is not giving any ground back, and that's what I'm trying to manage. Today I was very good -- I was pretty good at it. The other bogey I made was on 10, my first hole of the day that I three-putted, and that was about it.

Q. How tough were the conditions today? Was it a little easier than earlier in the week here, and also how did you play 17 today?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, it was definitely easier because there wasn't much wind out there. For the first probably 8, 9 holes, it was fairly calm, and the greens were a bit softer because it was early in the morning. But the last seven holes, you know, the wind started pumping, the greens were getting firm. For example, on 6 that I birdied, I had 153 yards, I had a full pitching wedge, I usually hit my pitching wedge 140, it was straight downwind, I flew it about 143 yards and hit it perfect hole high. It's a lot of guessing there. When you hit a club that on a normal green if I hit a full pitching wedge and fly it 140 yards, I'm probably going to spin it back four or five yards, and this ball is rolling forward ten yards, so it's not easy. It's definitely not easy.

Even if the wind is not blowing much, the shots have to be hit perfectly to hit it close. And I managed to do that today, and I've got to keep doing it. But this afternoon is going to be pretty tough.

Q. You've always been a very creative kind of shot-maker.

SERGIO GARCIA: I've always enjoyed playing on tough courses, yes. I've always felt like, you know, if I get to a course knowing that I don't have to make every putt to be up there, I always feel like it takes a lot of pressure from my game. I feel like I don't have to hit a 4-iron to three feet or four feet, I can hit it to 20 feet and maybe make it from there, maybe make par and go to the next. That's why I've always enjoyed the thrill of playing in majors and tournaments like this one.

Q. How did you play 17 today?

SERGIO GARCIA: The wind was pretty much right-to-left, maybe just a little touch into, and I hit a punch 9-iron, I think it was -- I want to say 138 to the hole -- no, 148 to the hole. So I hit it probably about 18 feet right in the middle of the green, just missed it left.

Q. What's the biggest reason that you haven't performed probably like you would have? Is it the modifications to your swing or is it the short game? I've heard both things.

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, there's no doubt when you start doing some changes it takes a while. It takes some time. I said this before, I felt like I played pretty nicely at the end of last year. I probably should have won a couple of tournaments, I threw one away in Japan. And I managed to one in Sun City, so that was nice. I felt like I played pretty nicely this year. I put myself up there in contention pretty much on every tournament.

Unfortunately I'm working on it, it's not something that's going to come nice and easy. I'm working on my putting, I'm working on my chipping pretty hard. It's starting to come around. I still hit a couple of bad putts here and there and we've got to get rid of those. But I think that if you keep trying, if I keep trying as I've been doing, and more than anything just let it happen, it's going to be fine. I feel like the game is there. So it's just a matter of time waiting for it.

We started on 10. On 10 I hit a good drive, just a little left, and it went in the bunker. Hit a good 9-iron from there from I think it was 146, hit it to about probably 18 feet, hit to about two and a half, three feet and missed it.

Then on 12 I had another good drive, right in the middle of the fairway. I hit a very nice second from 79 yards, hit it to about four feet, made that for birdie.

Then on 14 I hit another good drive, right down the middle. I hit a good wedge, probably about to 16 feet or so. I made that putt for birdie.

Then on No. 6 I had a nice 2-iron off the tee. I hit pitching wedge from 153 like I told you guys. I hit it to probably five and a half, six feet. I made that.

Then on the next I had another good drive. I hit a good punch 7-iron from 152, hit it to about 18 feet behind the hole and I made a nice putt there.

Then on 9 I hit a very good drive again, right down the middle, laid up with a 6-iron and then hit sand wedge from 123, hit it to about seven feet and made it.

End of FastScripts.

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