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May 7, 2005

Sergio Garcia


CHRIS REIMER: We welcome our third-round leader and also our Crestor Charity Challenge winner this week. For those of you who don't know, the Crestor Charity Challenge winner goes to our third round leader on Tour. This week Crestor will donate $50,000 to the Levine Children's Hospital on behalf of the Wachovia Championship, and $50,000 will be devoted to the health care-related charity of Sergio's choice.

Before we get into the golf today, just say a few words about the PGA TOUR and Crestor and their commitment to charities and giving back to the places where we play.

SERGIO GARCIA: It feels great to be able to give back to the community, as much as they do for us. It's the least we can do. I'm really happy that I had the chance to win the Crestor Charity Challenge. Hopefully they can do some really nice things with that bit of money. For a lot of people it means a lot, although it might not look like much.

CHRIS REIMER: Let's just talk about especially the final nine holes, the fantastic final nine holes for you today.

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, it was great. I felt like I played pretty solid all day. I started very well with birdie on 1, and that got me going a little bit. Unfortunately I hit a bad shot on -- bad tee shot on 4 and should have -- I had a good chance of making par and I hit it a bit too hard with my chip and had a difficult shot. I should have made bogey at the worst but ended up making double.

But I came back nicely. That happened today twice. Both times I made a bogey or a double like what happened this time. I came back nicely with a birdie on the next. That gets you going. You feel like you're not losing ground. You feel like you're still out there. That was really nice.

I hit some really good quality shots coming in. I got on a great stretch from 10 to 15, and unfortunately only that one bad drive on 12, but I don't know, I guess you can't hit them all well.

CHRIS REIMER: Correct me if I'm wrong, the other two times you've been a third round leader or had a share of the lead you've gone on to win, the 2001 Buick Classic and last year's Byron Nelson. You seem like when you get confidence that it's going to be tough to beat you. Is that a fair assessment?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, the good thing is that when I get up there, my long game is usually quite solid, so I can always get around with that. I don't feel like I have to make every putt to stay up there. I think that's always an advantage, and after working with my dad and all the work, it feels a bit better. It gets me a bit calmer than maybe it used to.

Q. What kind of mindset do you go in with a six-shot lead? Do you kind of going in thinking you're flat level with everybody else? What's your psychology going in?

SERGIO GARCIA: You go out there and you treat it just as one more round. You go out there and you keep the same game plan. You're aggressive when you know you can go for it and you feel good about it and maybe a bit more conservative when you're not as comfortable.

I think you just try to keep doing the same things. I mean, they've worked until now, why change them. So that's what I'm going to try to do tomorrow, go out there and keep doing the things the way I've been doing them.

Q. You've talked about your putting for a couple days, but a couple that you made today the stroke looked awfully good, 11, 1, and 13 seemed like another one. If you can talk about that.

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah. We talked about it, and I told you guys that I've been struggling with my putting. Everybody knows about it. Unfortunately I know about it, too. But I told you that I feel like things -- I feel like I'm starting to see the end of the tunnel. It's not only my putting; my chipping has got a lot better, too.

I feel like my stroke is a lot smoother, I feel like I'm more in control. I can start the ball more in line. You know, all the things I've worked on on my putting, they're finally starting to show.

And I said, although I didn't make many putts in China, I felt like I hit a lot of good putts, and I hit a lot of edges. I've always said that it's nice to make putts, but at least feel like you give them the best chance possible, and that's what I'm doing at the moment, and when you do those things, you start getting a bit of confidence and they'll start falling.

Q. Have you ever had a lead this big around the world? South Africa maybe?

SERGIO GARCIA: I think I had I want to say a five-shot lead at the Spanish Open when I won it in 2002. I think it was a five-shot lead. I don't think it was six.

Coming into mind, no, not this big.

Q. How significant would a victory here be in your progress?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, it would be great, but it's not finished. I've still got to do it tomorrow. You know, if I start thinking about it before I'm finished, then you're it's to punch me in the face. I've got to stay focused and keep doing the things that I've been doing. It's been really good so I've got to keep on the same track. But it'll be nice. Any victory is nice.

But I've always said, you know, it's not all about winning. It's a very thin line between winning and losing. It's about giving yourself chances, and the more chances you give yourself then the higher your percentage or your possibility of winning are. That's what I've been doing this week. I have a good chance of winning, and I've just got to take advantage of it.

Q. Talk a little bit about the pace of play out there. You seemed to handle it very well. I'm not sure about this, but it seemed like the TV camera at one time caught you having caught a frog or a toad. Talk about that moment.

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, unfortunately, I don't know why, pace of play, it was really slow on the front nine. I mean, Vijay and myself, we were taking our own good time, and we got to the 8th tee and we waited easily 20, 25 minutes to hit our shots.

I don't know, there's only so many things you can do for that amount of time when you're playing tournaments. So we were just talking and I found a little frog there and it was quite cute. I'm a big fan of frogs and I've always been, so I just grabbed it and took a little look. Maybe I should try to kiss it and see what it turns into, a princess or something.

Q. Did you let it go?

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, yeah.

Q. Who hole was that?

SERGIO GARCIA: That was on the 8th tee.

Q. How many groups were on the 8th tee when you got there?

SERGIO GARCIA: Three. Well, two and ourselves.

Q. You were the third?

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah. There were two on the tee counting ourselves, and then there was one that was just walking off the tee.

Q. I know you aspire to be at the top, No. 1 in the world I assume. It seems like you've tried to take pressure off yourself a little bit just from conversations this week in trying to beat big fields like this or whatever or get up to a certain level. Is that a fair assessment? Is that kind of a tack that you've taken?

SERGIO GARCIA: No, I don't try to take pressure out of myself. I know what I'm capable of doing. I've always known, and even more now, the way my golf game has improved. Unfortunately just sometimes it's disappointing to see that you played unbelievable and you can't score. You might see somebody else not playing so well and getting everything out of their rounds. It feels, I don't know, you can call it a bit unfair or something like that, but I feel like, as I talked before, I'm starting to come out of the tunnel. I feel like things are finally starting to go a bit my way. You know, that's always nice. I've always felt good about my game, and it's just a matter of getting it all together.

Q. You said a little while ago that it's not all about the winning. You don't hear that very often from professionals. Can you explain that a little bit?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, of course we're here to try to win, no doubt about it. But myself, I'm trying to become a better player. I'm trying to become a better player, trying to become a better person. You learn a lot from this game to take into your life, as a person, not as a player. I am fortunate enough to have a great group around me with my father, Carlos, Glenn, my whole family, and we all try to become better at what we do but also as a group and as people.

You know, as I was saying before, for me it's just trying to become a better player. I know that if I become a better player I'm going to have chances of winning and eventually I'm going to win. It all falls into it.

Q. Has that been difficult? There's been so many expectations placed upon you as a young player. Has that been more difficult?

SERGIO GARCIA: No, I wouldn't say so, no. As I said before, you know, it always comes down to the same -- as I said before, I know what I'm capable of doing. I don't need anybody to tell me what I'm capable of doing other than my father and a couple friends.

You know, I know what I can do. I've just got to do it. It's just that simple.

Q. Can you elaborate on that a little bit, like what you are capable of doing, like how far you can take this?

SERGIO GARCIA: I know how well I can hit the ball. If I keep improving on my short game, I know that I can be up there pretty much every week, and that's what you want to try. You know, I think it's nonstop. If you don't want to, you don't have to put yourself at the top. You can always try a bit harder to get better. There's always room for improvement.

Q. Was there a tournament early in your career when you became aware of what you were capable of doing, something that told you that "I can be this good, I can beat anyone any given day," whatever?

SERGIO GARCIA: No, I wouldn't say so. You see it as you go through, and with practice and just seeing how you react to some shots, even practicing. I think you just kind of see it as you get older and you keep playing and you see what you can do here, what you can do there, you know, how good all the other players are and everything.

You know, I think it's just learning experience.

Q. Following up on that, were there shots today in what was truly a good round, anything that stands out that showed you again the development or the quality of your game?

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, it was great. It was a very good round. The course was playing tough, although there wasn't much wind out there. There was a little bit to make you think, and it was changing all the time.

But as I said before, you can always get better. I hit two drives that I know I can hit better, and it cost me. You know, I'm trying to not do those things. You can always hear up here (pointing to side of head), in your little head you can always improve it, and that's what I'm trying to do. As you said, I played -- I hit so many good drives.

Q. Was there a shot that epitomized something you were working on, though, something off the tee, like, "Yeah, that's what I'm going after," any hole that you played today?

SERGIO GARCIA: No, not this week. Believe it or not, at The Masters I made sure to get my backswing nice and slow. I felt like just going really slow motion, and it felt great. That first round, I shot 77 but I felt like I played much better than that. On the second round I hit every single fairway and only managed to shoot 72.

So from then on, I went to China and I felt great again. I was in that same feeling, and I got here, and same thing. I'm trying to work on that, and I'm hitting my -- I've never, ever in my life hit my draw as well as I'm hitting it now. It's just a pure, just little draw there. I usually never hit a hook, so it's just nice to see that you can get there and make sure that your ball is going to draw and it's not going to go off line.

For the past year or so, I've been more comfortable with my fade than my draw, but now it feels like as good as my rhythm is and as good as my swing is feeling, I can go back to that little draw. For example, holes like 18, you get to that tee, you have a six-shot lead but you don't want to make a bogey, you want to try to make a birdie or par at the most, and you get down there, left-to-right wind, you know you can't miss it right, and if you hit it left there's a little creek there waiting for you. I get there, aimed at the right-hand side of the fairway, and I hit just a beautiful, hard draw. Those kind of things, seeing that you're capable of doing it under pressure, it shows a lot to yourself.

Q. How much different of a player and person and maybe better of a player are you than that young guy that everybody saw chasing Tiger down at Medinah that was such a benchmark moment for you in terms of the public eye?

SERGIO GARCIA: I think you've just got to -- I mean, you guys love the stats and all those things. You've just got to see it. My stats, greens in regulation, I've never been as good as I've been the last couple of years. Fairways hit, you've got to realize I'm not the longest hitter on Tour but I'm a fairly long hitter. You know, I feel like I hit a lot of fairways for my distance. I feel like -- it's kind of like Vijay; he's not afraid of hitting driver. You see some of the top players, they're a bit scared of hitting driver. It's like it's going to burn them or something. Even if I hit a bad drive, I don't mind just keep ripping the driver and keep getting better and better.

Q. I guess what I mean is when you were that young, and obviously that was an exciting time, what were your expectations back then, and have you fulfilled those to date, or are you still chasing those?

SERGIO GARCIA: I'm really happy the way my career has gone, really happy. I feel like I'm very fortunate. I would have never -- when you're 15, 16, 17 years old and just abroad, 19, you hope that things are going to go well but you never know how things are going to go. You start from zero again, start from scratch, and I feel very fortunate. I see a lot of guys out there that are unbelievable players and they're not as fortunate to do as well on their careers.

But I'm sure that -- it's the way it is. Sometimes you can have a great player and things just don't click, and I've been fortunate enough to -- I wouldn't say to have a great surround, but around me has been always -- everybody I had around me has been trying to make things easier for me, and that has definitely helped just concentrating and trying to be a better player.

Q. Continuing on the '99 PGA, do you think that helped you or hurt you because it drew a lot of attention to you? And a lot of people expected a lot of things out of you. What's your opinion about the significance of that right there?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, it hurt me because I didn't win it, to start with. No, it definitely helped. You can't take anything negative out of that week. Everything around it was great. I was really young. I was very fortunate that I played so well that week, and I had a chance of winning one of the first majors I played as a professional. You know, it was awesome.

The people got to know me a little bit, and they liked what they saw, and that's not easy to do when you're out there and you're trying to be yourself. Some people might not like it, but most of the people did, and that's great.

I think that people are not stupid and they can see what's going on. They can see if somebody is pretending to be something they are not and if somebody is just being natural around them.

Q. When you and your dad reworked your swing for the long haul, how much fear is involved in that, when you're leaving the known for the unknown?

SERGIO GARCIA: I mean, the basics are still similar. I mean, the swing is still -- it's not the same, but it still feels pretty similar. There wasn't fear. I think my dad was more afraid than I was. But we talked, and I told him, I feel like this is the right time. I feel like I need to do a little bit of a change. I need to try to get a little bit better. If not, thank God I've got -- my life, it's settled. I don't need anything else at the moment.

So it felt like it was the right time to try to get better. You know, probably because we were so confident about it, that's why it probably didn't take us as long as maybe somebody else might have taken.

You know, we felt good about it. We were confident about it and we just wanted to do it. I'm happy we did it. My dad keeps telling me, he says, "I'm so happy we went through that because you are 100 times better than you used to be."

Q. When is the last time you were afraid of anything?

SERGIO GARCIA: I don't know. You try not to. I guess when you're young you don't think much about it. I've always liked tough things and I've always liked speed and things like that, so I guess that takes a bit of fear out of me. You do kind of double-think things and you get sometimes a little bit of a weird thought in your head, so you try to get rid of those.

Q. I wanted to ask you, on the golf, I think you were tied with Vijay as you made the turn. Could you have imagined being six shots cleared by the time you walked off 18?

SERGIO GARCIA: No, mainly because he was playing really well, too. I knew that I just needed something to start my round because I felt like unfortunately I made that double but I came back nicely with a couple birdies, and I felt like just one little thing was going to make me go. I was feeling really comfortable on the course. I was feeling really good. Probably making that easy birdie on 10 kind of made me kind of loosen up a little bit and just keep the flow going.

And then I just started hitting good shot after good shot. You know, I just felt comfortable with my putting. The putt I hit on 10, although it didn't go in, it felt awesome, and from then on, every putt was -- every putt looked like it was going to go in.

Q. What was a harder escape, 4 or 12, out of the trees? What was the harder shot getting out of there?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, they were different. 4 was tough but I had a chance if I hit an unbelievable shot to hit it sort of maybe on the green. 12 I had pretty much no chance. It was just a chip out.

Q. Easy chip out?

SERGIO GARCIA: I'd probably say -- as a chip-out, the shot on 4 was easier. As going for the green, one was pretty much impossible --

Q. There was no danger of hitting a tree and doing something really silly?

SERGIO GARCIA: 4, no. 4, I had the tree on the left and I had the branches of the other tree. I knew that even if I hit it a little right, it should go through. I mean, it should take some speed out of it, but it should have gone through out of that, and I managed to keep it left.

The one on 12, I had a decent gap, probably about a three-yard gap, about 30, 40 yards in front of me, but it was just a little chippy shot with a 6-iron, so it wasn't too difficult to get it back down. It was tough to get it in the fairway but not to advance it.

CHRIS REIMER: Let's go through your clubs on the birdies and bogeys.

SERGIO GARCIA: Sure. On 1, I hit driver, sand wedge to about two and a half feet.

Then on 4, I hit a drive with my driver, I hit a pretty good shot from there just short of the green left. I hit it just a little too hard with my chip shot, tried to bounce it on the slope and just carried it, went just over the green. I had a tricky lie, it was lying down, and I tried to hit it with a 3-wood, hit it too hard about nine feet past the pin and missed it.

Then on 5, hit a great drive again down the middle, hit a 3-iron, just pulled it a little bit just on the left edge of the green, hit a very good chip that looked like it was going to go in and stayed just short.

Then on 7, hit another good drive down the middle. I hit a 6-iron just a little right of the hole and caught the slope and went to probably, I don't know, 40 feet, and I two-putted that.

On 10, I hit a great drive, hit a 5-iron from 226, and I hit a great shot just in the middle of the green about 20 feet. I hit a good putt and it just missed.

Then 11, I hit another great drive. I hit a pitching wedge from 122 into the wind, hit it to about six, seven feet, made that.

12, hit a bad drive to the right, chipped out with a 6-iron, hit a good shot with a sand wedge just over the green, chipped it with a 9-iron to about two feet.

Then on the next, I hit a 7-iron from 193 I think it was, 198, 193, something like that, pretty good shot, middle of the green about 18 feet, made that.

Then on the next, I hit another nice drive again just short of the green right, hit a pretty good chip, just caught the wrong side of the slope and went to about ten feet and made that.

15, I hit another great drive down the middle, very long. Hit a nice 4-iron from 214, something like that. Yeah, 214. I hit it about 35 feet behind the hole, 30 feet, hit a pretty good putt, looked faster than it was, so it ended up about four feet short, made that.

That's it.

CHRIS REIMER: Good luck.

End of FastScripts.

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