February 10, 2004
THE MODERATOR: One start this year, one Top 10. Maybe just talk a little bit about what you've been doing other than playing. You've been practicing. What is the state of your game at this point?
SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah. Well, you know, quite a bit of rest throughout the end of the last year. You know, I took pretty much three weeks off in December, just didn't play at all. Spent a nice week with my family in Switzerland. And then, you know, started practicing again. I got ready for Phoenix.
Felt pretty well there. Unfortunately, didn't get it going too much with the putter on the weekend. But, you know, I felt very comfortable. I felt like I hit the ball very nicely, and I hit some really good putts.
Other than that, you know, looking forward to this week. You know, I feel pretty comfortable about it, so we'll see.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. What did South Africa do for your confidence?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, it was great to be able to win. But more than anything, since from the American Express on, I seen the improvement I was feeling on my ball striking, those sort of things. That's what was giving me more and more confidence, and that's why I was putting myself in better positions to win.
I had two good chances to win on the European Tour at the end of the year, then I had a great chance in Japan. Unfortunately, didn't play well on Sunday. But, you know, I had a good week at Sun City.
You know, it's been good. You know, a good learning process. You know, like now I'm more and more comfortable when I get to the course.
SERGIO GARCIA: No, I'm still working on some things. The swing is much better, but it still has to be improved. It can still get better. Working quite hard on my putting. That's probably the part of my game that I'm more focused on now.
So, you know, if I manage to get those things together, it should be good.
SERGIO GARCIA: Yes, definitely. I think he's playing some really good golf. I think he's been doing some really great things. You know, playing all over the place, too, playing all over the world.
So it's hard to maintain that kind of level when you're playing so much. But I think, you know, he's got to a level where he feels really comfortable with himself. You know, of course, confidence is all there is. I'm happy for him.
I think, you know, he's a great guy and a wonderful player.
SERGIO GARCIA: Unfortunately, I haven't played the south course yet. No, I'm playing tomorrow in the ProAm. But, I mean, I've watched it on TV and I know it's a great course.
I played the north today. You know, I liked it quite a bit. You know, I'm looking forward to playing the south course tomorrow.
Q. What were your impressions today?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, the greens are pretty tough, very slopey, pretty much all of them from back-to-front. Very, very slopey. You know, you have to be very careful where you leave the ball because, I mean, you might hit it 20 feet short and have a realistically better chance of making birdie than if you leave it six feet by. So, you know, you just got to make sure to leave the ball in the right spots.
You know, the par 5s are fairly short, so you can gain some ground in those. But, yeah, quite a good course. Pretty narrow fairways.
SERGIO GARCIA: Definitely, yeah, yeah. Really looking forward to it, so we'll see tomorrow.
SERGIO GARCIA: No, no, no. I mean, everybody has their own way of playing the courses. It's all feel, you know. When you get to the hole, you know, some guys might feel like they want to hit a draw, maybe you feel more comfortable hitting a fade or things like that.
So, you know, we all have our different ways of playing the golf course. But, you know, we're all grown ups and we know how to handle ourselves.
SERGIO GARCIA: If it's going to be stupid, don't ask (laughter).
Q. How did you work on your putting (inaudible)?
SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, no, definitely. Definitely I work quite hard on technique. I got probably in the last couple of years, I don't know why, but I got to a place where, you know, my alignment wasn't right. You know, my eyes weren't looking down the way they had to. You know, they were a bit kind of like right. I was aiming everything a little bit right and trying to put a little bit of hook spin on it to get it going on the right line.
So, you know, when you start putting side spin on your putting, it becomes more and more difficult to make putts. Even though sometimes, you know, you might feel -- sometimes you might read the break the right way, and because of the side spin you put on the ball, you know, it feels like you're not. So, you know, it just puts doubts on your head.
You know, I've been working on that. I've been working on getting my alignment and my aiming the right way. I can definitely see the difference on the rolls. You know, I still -- of course, you know, the rolls are much better, but I still have to get that confidence, you know, that feeling comfortable over the ball, just letting it go.
SERGIO GARCIA: Yes, yes, definitely. I really feel like my putts are much better than what they used to be. It's just a matter of, you know, just getting it going.
Q. (Inaudible) do you want to be able to get a feel for it?
SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah. I mean, you want to see where you're up to because, you know, there's a blind tee shot that you don't know where you're hitting and you got to pick your spots and know what you're doing.
There's a couple really big elevation changes that you're going to know the feeling, I mean, how far the ball is going on those kind of things. But, I mean, playing once every course I feel like is more than enough to know what you have to do.
Q. Put yourself in Ernie's shoes for a minute.
SERGIO GARCIA: There's too big (laughter).
Q. Traveling the world, doing what he's done for 10 years. You're in South Africa, (inaudible) Match Play that week?
SERGIO GARCIA: I mean, I don't know. It's tough to say. For a week? It all depends. Unfortunately, I'm not in his shoes, and I don't have a family to take care of. You know, I think family is more important than anything else, any kind of tournament.
Q. Can you appreciate the indecision he's got?
SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, definitely I understand his position. He's a guy who has struggled so much. You know, he's trying to cut down a little bit on that. I can definitely understand his position.
But, I don't know, I think it's two different players, two different situations.
Q. (Inaudible) for people in Spain to be able to see you play the World Golf Championships, even in San Diego, it's a big boost to Spanish golf (inaudible). Do you agree with that or would you like to see some of these move around more often than they do?
SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, well, definitely it would be nicer to get one of these big tournaments, you know, to other parts of the world. You know, kind of be a bit more like the tennis tour.
But, you know, that's something that, you know, they got to figure out where is going to be - how you say - I can't figure out what I want to say.
SERGIO GARCIA: Not exposure, but how they think is going to be more successful, where they think is going to be more successful.
SERGIO GARCIA: You know, everything, golf-wise. Of course, a tournament has to do well to keep going. But it would definitely be nice to see some of those big tournaments going a bit more around the world. Of course, you always got to pick the right places, make sure that the courses and the facilities are the right way.
But, you know, we have one going there this year in Spain. I'm looking forward to that.
Q. You're going to play that?
SERGIO GARCIA: I probably will, yes. I should be. Jiminez looks like he's playing well.
SERGIO GARCIA: Yes, yes. Yeah, definitely, I think it's going to be great. I'm really looking forward to it. You know, it's going to be some friends and some good players playing there. You know, it's a new thing. I'm looking forward to see how things go around. You know, hopefully it can be something that it can get a little bigger on the future.
SERGIO GARCIA: I'm sure he'll do great. He's going to be my captain (laughter).
Q. What brought you out here this year? You never played here before.
SERGIO GARCIA: Unfortunately, I've never been able to fit it into the schedule because mainly by the end of January, I usually go to Australia. But this year, unfortunately, it didn't fit for me, and I didn't feel like going all the way down to Australia, you know, for a couple tournaments.
So, you know, I figured that I heard great things about this tournament, about the courses. You know, I figured, "Might as well, you know, give it a shot and see how it looks." You know, it's just such a beautiful place. The courses are really nice, you know, right next to the sea. So I feel a bit like at home, so that's nice.
SERGIO GARCIA: Definitely. Yeah, you can get an idea. That's also a positive thing, a positive thing coming out of tournaments. So all those things added, put together, you know, makes it a good tournament to come.
Q. (Inaudible) have you attempted to play Torrey Pines before?
SERGIO GARCIA: Actually, no. I haven't really thought about it because I really don't -- I mean, I don't come down here to La Costa that often to go to the test center or something like that mainly because, you know, I'm in Spain or if I'm resting, I'm in Orlando. You know, it's not like it's a two-hour drive (laughter).
So, no, unfortunately not. But, you know, we're playing it this year, so we'll see how it goes.
Q. It being a Ryder Cup year, if you make the team, it will be your third appearance, so you're not the rookie any longer. Who are some of the young players in Europe that you have high expectations for, you think might make the team this time around or are going to be stars in the future?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I don't know. I think, as you said, there's some really good young players coming out in Europe. I think that Ian Poulter is looking like he might make it. He's playing very well. Paul Casey, guys like Luke Donald, maybe Justin Rose. I don't know. There's a lot of good young players coming out.
I'm looking forward to hopefully get some of those in the team and make it myself, too. It should be fun, you know, with some of the youngsters, then getting Darren and Lee, probably Monty, all those experienced guys. Think it should be a great mix.
SERGIO GARCIA: Not really (laughter).
SERGIO GARCIA: No, I think he's going to be great. You know, he's very methodic. He knows what he wants to do at all times. I think his game plans are spot on. So he should be able to manage the team nicely.
You know, we all have a lot of respect for him, so I think that's always important coming from the players to a captain.
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I think it's a bit different. It's probably a bit more serious. But also, you know, when you get talking to him, he's a great guy. You know, he's a fun guy. But, you know, we all have our little different things.
Q. You mentioned the young players. Where do you fit in there? Do you think of yourself as a young guy?
SERGIO GARCIA: Way old, 24 now (laughter).
SERGIO GARCIA: 24. Can you believe that?
SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, definitely, definitely. I think it's great. And I really like the way it's going. I really like where I think I'm going towards. You know, I think it's good years to come. If I'm just patient, just keep working hard on the things I believe in, should be good. So wait and see.
Q. You've watched tournaments around the world while relaxing at home. Are you sensing this is the most competitive the tour has been (inaudible)?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I think we're all working on it, we're all trying to get better and better. You know, that's the main goal, you know, get more and more consistent throughout the year.
So, you know, I think you're starting to see some good things. But not only from this year; I think probably from a couple years back already. So, I mean, some of the things some players are doing are pretty extraordinary. I think that's great for golf, you know, great for the tour.
SERGIO GARCIA: I actually -- unfortunately, I didn't watch it because I was shooting some commercials for Anheuser-Busch, but I heard about it. I heard he was just a quick 12-under through 14. You know, actually it would have been nice to see Ernie, a player of his caliber, his personality, to be in that elite group of the 50s.
Unfortunately, you know, he bogeyed 15. But, you know, the way he's playing, he might have another chance. We'll see.
SERGIO GARCIA: No, I haven't had a talk with him yet.
SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, well, I mean I shot 62 there, shot 62 at Byron Nelson in '99. It did look like I was going on a good way there because I think I was -- I think I was 8-under through 15, had a 4-iron into 16, shot it right in the right bunker and didn't get it up and down. Birdied 17, bogeyed 18.
But, no, unfortunately I haven't been as close as I would like to. But hopefully, you know, there's a lot of years to come, so we'll see.
Q. What is the luckiest shot you ever hit?
SERGIO GARCIA: The luckiest shot...
SERGIO GARCIA: No, that wasn't lucky, that was a good shot (laughter). A lucky shot is when you hit a bad shot and it ends up on a good place.
Q. Maybe not as a pro, but as a kid.
SERGIO GARCIA: I don't know. I'll have to think about it. I don't know. I'm just unlucky (laughter). If it wasn't for my bad luck, I'd have no luck at all.
No, I'm kidding. I don't know. I don't know. I've never really had one of those shots where, you know, you hit it left, it hits a tree, it goes in, things like that. I don't know. I'll probably have to think about it. Sorry.
SERGIO GARCIA: No, no, I really haven't. I feel like, of course, I mean, the majors are the majors. But there's really not much difference from any other tournament other than, you know, they're harder, the rough is tougher, and it's more of a mental thing. But the shape of the courses is the same.
So with a couple rounds, you should know what you have to do. That's my theory. Of course, you know, when we go to Augusta and you have a chance of going there and playing with maybe Ernie or some of these guys, of course you're always going to go there because it's fun.
But, you know, other than that, it's pretty much just go there, three days before, practice a couple rounds, and go.
SERGIO GARCIA: You know, growing up, I've always been a huge fan of the Masters and the British Open. The Masters for being what it is and the British Open for being, of course, where everything started and being in Europe.
But I've come to realize that the way my game is, I feel like the US Open, it's closer to my game than the other ones. I think if you play well, of course, you can do well on any of them. But because I'm usually a good driver of the ball, and the US Open requires that, I've always seem to done pretty well at the US Open.
SERGIO GARCIA: Probably a couple years ago, something like that. You know, when I started -- you know, when we go to US Open, you know, everything is so tight and everything.
I enjoy driving the ball so much, but I actually enjoy playing those kind of courses, you know, where everybody might be struggling a little bit and hitting iron, I get there with a driver, feel like I can hit in the fairway with a driver. So that makes it, you know, a little bit better for me.
But, I don't know, I'd like to win all of them, so we'll see.
Q. Do you think your mindset as a youngster about the Masters and British Open, the fact that Seve was so successful (inaudible)?
SERGIO GARCIA: Probably was, too. But I don't know. As a youngster, too, the ones that we were able to see the most were those two, too. So, you know, those are the ones we used to, you know, sit down all in the house and watch TV, see how they did.
That's probably one of the reasons, too.
Q. Do you remember what time the Masters came on in your household?
SERGIO GARCIA: Late. I mean, I usually tried to watch -- when I was in school. Now I watch it live hopefully. No, when I was in school, I mean, of course -- it usually comes on TV around 9:00, 9:30 at night, and it finishes around, I don't know, 3:00 in the morning, 2:00 in the morning. So we would, you know, watch it mainly on the weekend that we didn't have to get up early to go to school.
Q. Were there ever times you were the only one still up in the house watching?
SERGIO GARCIA: No. My dad, he loves golf more than I do.
SERGIO GARCIA: No, no, no. I don't feel like the Masters is not a right course for me. You know, I feel comfortable on it, too. You know, I really enjoy playing there. I'm not saying that those don't fit my game because I feel like the British Open also fits my game quite a lot.
I'm just saying that probably the one that fits the most is probably the US Open. That's the way I feel.
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, it definitely got a lot tougher. Mainly, you know, because now, although the first cut, it's not too long, it's long enough to make you doubt how the ball is going to come out. Sometimes you get flyers, sometimes you don't. If you miss the fairways, you're going to struggle to hold it on the greens because you don't get as much spin, and you need it on those greens.
You know, with lengthening some of the holes, hitting 5-irons and 4-irons into some of those greens, gee, is not easy. So I think they got the course more towards what it used to be probably 15, 20 years ago. I think that was their goal. And I think they've achieved that.
SERGIO GARCIA: That's the thing.
SERGIO GARCIA: Definitely, definitely. Well, it's longer when it's wet. But you can hit a 2-iron and stop it on the green. I mean, I prefer to hit a 2-iron or a 3-iron to one of those greens knowing that, you know, the pin is in a spot, I can stop it there with that iron, than hitting a 7-iron and struggle to stop it on that same spot.
So I think, you know, hopefully this year it will be dry and we'll all see the difference. Of course, you know, I will be hitting shorter clubs. But the greens will be that much tougher.
SERGIO GARCIA: It all depends, you know, if the wind blows a little bit like normally it does. I don't think you'll get to double digits, I don't think so at all.
Q. What is your earliest memory of the Masters? What is your fondest memories from watching it?
SERGIO GARCIA: Probably 1935, you know (laughter).
No, I don't know. Probably one of the first images that come to mind is probably '86, you know, watching Seve coming down the stretch and Jack Nicklaus winning it, Seve hitting on the water in 15. One of those images is the one that first comes to mind.
SERGIO GARCIA: No, I actually -- I was into golf, and not that much. I did watch it later on, though, as I grew up.
THE MODERATOR: Sergio, thank you, appreciate it.
SERGIO GARCIA: Thank you.
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