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May 11, 2005

Sergio Garcia


TODD BUDNICK: We welcome defending champion of the EDS Byron Nelson Championship, Sergio Garcia. Sergio, a place where you had your first professional start here in 1999 and you've got four top-20s in your six starts here including the win last year. You seem to enjoy coming to this tournament year after year.

SERGIO GARCIA: Definitely. It's been a very good place for me. As you said, 99 starting here, it was my debut in the States as a pro and I managed to finish 3rd. I'm always looking forward to coming back here. We have Mr. Nelson as a host, so you can't -- it doesn't really get much better than that.

TODD BUDNICK: Talk a little bit about Mr. Nelson. This week we have the Top 5 in the world, and a big part of it, I think, is because the players like to come back for Mr. Nelson.

SERGIO GARCIA: Sure, yeah, definitely. He's done so much for the game of golf and for the community. As we all know, his tournament is the one that raises the most money for charity. I think it's a wonderful event to be involved in. You know, anything we can do to help it get better, we're trying to do.

TODD BUDNICK: Talk about your season. You've got three Top 10s including the playoff last week. How are you feeling as far as your game is today?

SERGIO GARCIA: I think it's pretty good. I've been playing pretty solid. I feel like unfortunately I haven't been able to get the most out of my rounds. Last week I played very nicely. I putted better, and unfortunately I didn't win on Sunday, but I still felt like it was my tournament to win, and unfortunately I let it slip away a little bit.

You know, I feel good about it. I feel good about my game, and I'm looking forward to this week and hopefully I can give myself another good chance at a victory.

Q. Earlier in the year you kind of had some concerns about your putting maybe back in the Florida Swing. Have you changed anything or is stuff just falling now?

SERGIO GARCIA: No, I just keep working on the same stuff, just waiting for it to turn around. The thing is sometimes it takes a bit longer than some others. There's some times where you get something and it just feels perfect straight away and you just go with the flow. But some other times it takes a bit longer.

It's been a long process, but I felt already in China about three weeks ago some nice things there, although I didn't make pretty much any putts, but last week I felt good about it. On Sunday, although I didn't make many putts until towards the end when I had to make a couple crucial ones, on the front nine I felt like I hit a lot of good putts, and unfortunately they just didn't go in.

I feel like it's getting better and better every week, so I've just got to keep working on it.

Q. Do you have any favorite Mr. Nelson stories from the times that you've come here? Does he take you out drinking or anything (laughter)?

SERGIO GARCIA: No. Well, I mean, he's always come around and taken a look at us play around the course and say hi and things like that. We had a nice champions dinner last night. It was interesting to sit down there and listen to some of the stories that not only Byron but everybody that was sitting around the table had to tell. It was a very enjoyable night.

You know, this tournament keeps getting better and better for me, so I'm looking forward to keep performing well here.

Q. It sounds like you're trying to take more positives out of what happened on Sunday than letting it crush you.

SERGIO GARCIA: That's the way it should be. I didn't crush. I mean, the course wasn't playing easy. It was a tough course. There wasn't much wind, I know that, but it was playing really firm. The greens were really quick, really fast and really firm. You know, Vijay and Jim played very well. I still had my chance to win it. I still got back on the lead after 15, probably I should have made that putt and get a two-shot lead and unfortunately I didn't, made a great save on 16, and unfortunately I was a couple yards farther left than I needed to be on 17. But I don't see it as a crush. You guys do, but I don't.

I felt like it was a great week. I felt like I performed nicely. I shot 72 in the final round on a tough course. It's not like I shot 78.

I can only see the positives. That's all it is for me.

Q. So much in golf right now is talk of the Big Four, maybe The Big Five. How much do you waste time thinking about getting yourself in that mix?

SERGIO GARCIA: Nothing. Nothing really. I'm just trying to get better, and I know if I do, if I keep playing like I played last week and my short game is like it was last week, I know that I'll be out there.

I'm not really worried. You know, there's a lot of things that I can learn from those guys out there, and I've got to -- everybody has their own little ability, and it's good to see what they do best and try to learn from that.

Q. Toward those lines, does it add anything this week that --

Sergio, you mentioned that you started here in '99. Do you feel like a veteran now?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I do. It's funny to talk about it, but yeah, I'm only 25 but I've been here for quite a while, and it feels good. It feels good to keep coming back and keep having the chances of playing these great events that we do play.

It's always a learning experience. I've got some years in advance to some of the youngsters coming out, so it's always nice to have that.

Q. Talking a little bit about some of the other guys in the field, does that add a little bit this week, having those guys, a chance to knock them off or a chance to learn more from them, anything like that?

SERGIO GARCIA: Not really.

Q. Just another tournament?

SERGIO GARCIA: You asked me last week, and I'm just going to say the same thing. Winning every tournament is difficult, it doesn't matter who's playing. You know, we have the Top 5 players in the world playing here this week and it's great and I'm looking forward to it, but if it weren't here, it doesn't mean that I'm not going to try to win this tournament as hard as they are. I don't see it as a big deal; I just try to beat everybody and it doesn't matter who's playing.

Q. Talking about how hard it is just to win one, it's the 60th anniversary of Byron Nelson winning 18 in a year and 11 in a row. Can you even comprehend being that hot for that long even though it was a different era?

SERGIO GARCIA: It's amazing. If you think about it, what he achieved that year was -- I don't think anybody is going to ever achieve that again. It's something out of this world. You know, that's why you have to give it as much credit as he deserves. He's a 93-year-old gentleman, and he's sitting out there at the champions dinner telling stories, talking about 1931 like if it was two days ago (laughter). I mean, it's amazing.

It was quite impressive. He's an amazing gentleman and I'm happy I had the chance of meeting him.

Q. What do you see yourself doing when you're 93?

SERGIO GARCIA: I don't even know if I'll be here.

Q. Do you feel that your game is pretty much the way it was coming in last year? Last year here you were hitting everything really close. I mean, it wasn't that you putted so great but you just hit everything close. Does it feel pretty much the same?

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah. I feel good about it. Last year I won this tournament as we all know just pretty much by ball-striking. I hit the ball really well all week. Although I didn't make many putts, I made the ones that I had to. You know, as I said before, I feel good about my game. I've been playing pretty nicely, and I played very well the last couple of weeks, so I'm looking forward to hopefully having a successful defending of my title.

Q. Where would you rank your overall performance last week against some of your other tournaments? Did you play better last week than some tournaments you've won?

SERGIO GARCIA: Not really. I mean, I played well, but to tell you the truth, this week last year, when I won here, if I would have putted the way I putted last week, I don't know, I probably would have shot 25 under par. I mean, the way I played last year here was amazing all week, but more than anything on Saturday. I mean, on Saturday I shot 65 without making one putt. I mean, that said a lot about my game there.

You know, every year is different, and I'm hoping to perform as well as I did last year, but it's not going to be easy. We'll see how we do.

Q. You talked about how the 72 you shot on Sunday; it was a difficult course and difficult conditions. Were you surprised that Vijay shot -- was 66 a surprise to you when you walked off that course?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I knew you could shoot it. I was surprised when I got to the 13th hole and I saw that Vijay was 13-under, so I saw he was 7-under for the day and he had 14 and 15 in front of him, and I thought, "Geez, he's put an unbelievable round." That course wasn't playing easy. Those fairways were still hard to hit, and if you weren't in the fairway, although there wasn't much rough, it's still tough to control it out of the rough with those firm greens. He put a good show on it, and Jim played very well, too; he played with me.

But I still felt like I had a chance, and Glenn, my caddie, said to me, when we saw the leaderboard, he said, "We birdie 14 and 15 and I think we're going to be back in the lead," and he was right. Unfortunately I couldn't hold onto it.

I still feel pretty good about the performance all week.

Q. You said Sunday that a lot of times you learn more from losing than winning, and I'm wondering what is it that you take away from last weekend.

SERGIO GARCIA: There were a lot of positives last week. As we talked about, a lot of positives from my game, a lot of positives from the way I reacted to what was going on on the course. You know, I tried to stay as calm as possible no matter what happened. I think it's probably the tournament where I've been reacting to what was going on to me the best. I feel good about it, not getting angry when you get a bad bounce or you hit a bad shot or things like that.

You know, I'm working on that, and it felt really good, and I think that's because I'm not getting angry at those things. I think I still had a great chance of winning. Well, maybe some other time if I would have gone berserk then I would have started making bogeys and shoot 75 or 76 and you feel a bit worse.

I think that there were a lot of positives, and it was an awesome week. I really enjoyed it.

Q. You won at Colonial, you won here last year, you've had multiple Top 10s at this tournament. Is there anything about this particular area that adds an extra comfort zone for you even though you don't have any obvious connection here?

SERGIO GARCIA: No, I guess here is where it started, as we talked before, and I started well. It always gives you that extra bit of confidence coming back. You know you've done well and you know that the people really love you here and are really behind you. You're always looking forward to coming back. I guess that's one of the little things.

Q. You were talking about how you handled yourself on Sunday. People probably expect a player like you to do certain things on Sunday. How much of a learning process is there in that, learning to be in that position on a Sunday, and how close do you feel you are to getting over a hump or whatever in that regard?

SERGIO GARCIA: I think that, as we said before, it's all a learning experience. I feel like I'm getting better and better, every aspect of my game, also mentally and everything. I think that you've got to just keep working on it. As I said before, I felt comfortable on the course last week. I felt -- although I made three double bogeys, I never really got angry or started panicking. I think that's important. It's one of those things that you've just got to realize. I've been able to work it through with my little group, and we're trying to get better and better every week.

Q. Do you think people forget sometimes that you're 25 years old and kind of have larger expectations for you, especially outside of --

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I don't know. I don't know, I really don't care too much about that. I know, as we always talked, I know what I can do, and I just have to keep giving myself the best chance possible of doing it. Last week I did well at that, and I've just got to try to be like that every week.

Q. Just to follow that up, what are your expectations of yourself? How would you describe what you expect of yourself at this point in your career?

SERGIO GARCIA: I just want to keep getting better, keep giving myself chances at winning and keep performing like I did last week, trying to be up there every week and give myself chances. The more chances you give yourself, the more you're going to lose and the more you're going to win. Sometimes it's going to feel like, shame, you lost this one, but it's like when you have a lot of ten-footers for birdies. You're going to miss them and you're going to miss more than if somebody has five some round and you're going to have ten, you're going to miss more, but you're also probably going to make more, too. You've just got to take both things and just try to keep giving yourself chances of becoming a better player and also a better person.

TODD BUDNICK: Thank you, Sergio, and good luck this week.

End of FastScripts.

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