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THE PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP

March 22, 2005

Sergio Garcia

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLORIDA

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Sergio Garcia, thank you for joining us at the media center at The PLAYERS Championship. Start with some opening comments. Some big weeks coming up for you starting this week at Ponte Vedra.

SERGIO GARCIA: Yes, definitely. I mean last week I already started with Arnie's tournament, that was huge. And we're looking forward to it. This week, surprisingly, I haven't seen a lot of rough on the course, so I don't know what happened there. Hopefully we can get some dry weather and it will make the course tougher.

Q. Sergio, a couple of players have talked about working on specific parts of their game. Charles Howell has talked about working on shots from 100 yards in. Anything you're working on?

SERGIO GARCIA: My driver, my mid irons, short irons (laughter), chipping, putting. No, pretty much I've been working quite hard on my short game, you know, pretty much just chipping and putting. I've been hitting the ball quite well. I do work on it a little bit, but not as much as probably my short game.

Unfortunately last week I didn't hit the ball that great, like I usually tend to do. But I managed to get my short game in better shape and managed the course nicely. Unfortunately I didn't finish great on Sunday, but at least I got it to a good position where I could finish high up there. So I'm working on that, and hopefully we can get it going this week a little bit.

Q. Your stats show that you're first in greens in regulation, but they also show that you're not making quite as many birdies as you usually do. Is that a putter question or not hitting it close?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I think it's mainly a putter question. Last week it was a bit different. I didn't hit the ball very close until Sunday, where I played the first 14 holes pretty well. But, yeah, it's pretty much been but it's not news; I've been struggling. I've been putting so so for quite a while now, and I'm working on it.

I feel like I'm getting some good things on it, and at least last week I made some nice putts and there were a couple of days where I was almost birdieing every green I was hitting, so that's a good thing.

Q. It's not a course management thing; we're getting so used to seeing certain players hit at every flag, whereas sometimes it seems like you're playing more center in. Do you know what I mean by center in?

SERGIO GARCIA: It depends. It depends on how you feel on the shot. If you feel good, you can have a 2 iron over water and the pin is two feet from the right, and you go for it. But sometimes you don't feel as comfortable and you'd rather hit it to the middle of the green and leave yourself a 15 footer than try to hit to two feet and maybe hit it a little left and end up making bogey.

So no, I wouldn't say so. I feel like when I'm hitting the ball well, I hit it really close, I hit a lot of greens. It's just a matter of making more putts like everybody does.

Q. We're hearing a lot this year about this emerging Big Four in golf, Tiger, Vijay, Phil and Ernie. Do you think that's the case, that they have sort of separated themselves from the rest of the fields? What do you think it means if it's true? Is it good for golf, and what does it mean to guys like you who want to get into that circle?

SERGIO GARCIA: It's good for golf, yeah, I think it is good for golf that everybody plays well, not only them. They're definitely playing very nicely. So a lot of credit for them. But, no, I'm not worried in getting in that category. I just want to play well and do my things. If I get on that kind of group that you call it, it's great, but it's not something I have to worry about. I want to keep improving, keep getting better, and let my clubs do the talking. So if I do that, it should be sweet.

Q. Does it provide more incentive for other players, though, that people kind of lump those four a little bit above everybody else?

SERGIO GARCIA: I guess you guys always like to do those things. If you don't do it with one player, you do it with three or four, and probably some guys that are playing at a very good level don't get the respect they should. But other than that, nothing has changed much.

Q. There's been such a mix of type of player; there's power players one year, Lee Janzen, Justin Leonard type players one year. What do you think is unique about what this place demands of a player over 72 holes?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, you know, usually you have to drive the ball very well because the rough is really thick. But this year you can get out of this rough fairly easy, unless you get a really bad lie that you're going to do sometimes. But a lot of lies you can hit a 4 or 5 iron, easily. So it's not something we're used to seeing here.

That's probably going to change some of the placing of the tees. Even if you hit it in the rough, you'd rather whack it all the way down there and have a sand wedge or a pitching wedge from the rough than maybe hitting a 6 or 7 iron from the fairway to this green. So we'll see.

And I think it's got a lot to do with the weather, too. It has a lot to do with that, too. If it firms up, it will play tough, because these greens are really if it doesn't, you can probably see something like 18 under par winning, easily.

Q. Are you saying this place is friendlier to maybe long hitters that aren't as accurate as it normally than it normally is?

SERGIO GARCIA: The way it's set up this year, I'd probably say so. You still have to hit the ball well, though. You hit it 30 yards off line, you know, you've got to get lucky.

Q. Do you like that or would you rather have it like it was?

SERGIO GARCIA: Hit it 30 yards off line?

Q. Yes. Would you rather

SERGIO GARCIA: Fortunately for me, I don't hit it 30 yards off line too often, and that is a bad thing on the PGA TOUR, because you get penalized 30 yards off line less than when you miss the fairway two yards.

Q. But do you prefer a set up like Bay Hill where the rough is really gnarly or sort of something like Doral?

SERGIO GARCIA: No, I think I'd rather see something like Bay Hill. I think it brings the better player out, the guy who is playing the best. And you just can see the guy, I mean Kenny, who won, he played awesome that week; he drove the ball very nicely, hit a lot of greens, putted nicely. Vijay played awesome, too, hit a lot of fairways, a lot of greens.

So that's the kind of tournament you want to see. You don't want to see a tournament where you hit it 25 yards off the fairway and you're making birdies from everywhere. That's not I don't think that's good.

Q. You mentioned that you've been putting so so for quite a while. Do you think it's good enough that in this stretch, particularly at Augusta, that you can handle it and be in contention?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, the problem is the problem is not putting so so, it's more of a consistency thing, like I have rounds where I putt quite well and I make a good amount of putts, and there's rounds where I putt quite poorly. So I just somehow need to close that gap a little bit. If I manage to be a little bit more level throughout that, I can have a chance of winning a great amount of tournaments. But it's something that I've got to work on.

Q. Do you have any theories why you see in the Ryder Cup situation, you seem to make every big putt you look at, and when you're playing for yourself it doesn't always seem to translate?

SERGIO GARCIA: I don't know, probably because I've always liked to play for friends and for my people and things like that. I think it's the way I was made. I'm a lot more comfortable playing on a team event. I don't know why. Maybe it's my personality or something. I seem to be a lot more relaxed than when I'm just playing for myself.

Q. Have you tried playing mental tricks with yourself to get yourself into that same kind of frame of mind?

SERGIO GARCIA: I don't know, I think sometimes the more you think about it, the worse it gets. I'm trying to get it sorted out my own way.

Q. This tournament is synonymous with the one hole, 17th hole. Can you give us your take on it? Does it seem as fearsome for players of your caliber than it does for us?

SERGIO GARCIA: It's easy, no problem (laughter). Well, 17 usually gets tougher as the week goes on, mainly, unless it gets really windy, but mainly because you know that it's not only the wind and the small green and the water around it, it's the adrenalin that goes around. Sometimes you hit a good shot and you hit it in the water. You think, well, I have 150 yards, okay, I'll hit a little 9 and the adrenalin is pumping so hard that you hit a little 9 and the little 9 is going 165 yards.

So I think that's one of the huge things about it. The wind swirls quite a bit too, there. And if the green gets firm, the shot has to get really accurate. I think it's an awesome hole. I think it's a wonderful finishing hole, that one and 18 and also 16. So it's just an amazing finish for an amazing event.

Q. When you see footage of you swinging back in 1999 or 2002 at Bethpage and compare it to what you do now, what do you think when you look back at your swing before, and how much more comfortable are you now with what you have and what you're able to do under fire?

SERGIO GARCIA: They're both great swings. It has changed a little bit. The basics are still the same, the movement is similar, it's just got kind of like smaller, less moving parts and probably easier to repeat. But I'm happy about it. I really like the way my swing has evolved. I think it's getting on a very good level. And before, you know, I could hit the ball really well, too. It was a very good swing and I drove the ball very nicely with it.

But I think I've probably become a bit more consistent now. My misses usually seem to be better than what they were before. So I'm still working on it, trying to get a little bit better, but I'm definitely happy about the way it's been going, and my dad has done a good job there.

Q. You and your father spent a lot of time on the range here last year hitting balls. It seemed like a couple of days you must have hit, what, a couple hundred balls every day. Are you still working on it that hard or is it pretty much

SERGIO GARCIA: No, not that hard. I'm still working mainly the swing is pretty much sorted out. But sometimes setup gets a little tricky; I'm trying to get my head down a little bit and I start having trouble again. So pretty much of course, we're looking at keep going on the same path, and mainly the takeaway, that's one of the most important things for me, make sure the takeaway goes the right way. But the main things we work on is setup, make sure that I'm nice and tall and just a good rhythm.

Q. You're kind of in maintenance now, rather than say transition?

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, I'm definitely not thinking about the swing as much as I had to probably last year or a year and a half ago.

Q. When you've had your putting problems, what do you fight is it alignment?

SERGIO GARCIA: Missing (laughter).

Q. Anything in particular that you struggle with that you have to fight?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I've been working on something I think usually I tend to get a little bit too anxious, start looking a little bit too quick. So when I do that, then I tend to start striking the ball not in the middle of the club face as consistently, and then it becomes a bit tough to get the right speed, get the right lines. So I'm trying to work hard on keeping my head very still and even trying not to look at the ball.

I did a pretty good job last week for three or three and a half rounds, and towards the end I started to just kind of peak a little bit. I struggled a little bit. But I'm working on it. It feels good, so it's just a matter of believing on it and getting it in my little wood head.

Q. Is the confidence the key to that?

SERGIO GARCIA: Definitely, yeah. I mean, putting is all about confidence. Of course, having the right mechanics and everything, it does help. But it's all confidence. If you're confident over your putt, it doesn't matter what kind of stroke you put on it, you're going to make it. So that's one of the main things.

Q. Who do you think maybe among your Ryder Cup teammates is setting the worst fashion trend out here on the PGA?

SERGIO GARCIA: I don't think it's bad.

Q. Will you try some of the clothes?

SERGIO GARCIA: I could put something, yeah, definitely. No, I think it's refreshing. You don't want to see those fluffy pants and they kind of get a bit old. So you try to bring a bit of bright to the Tour, and just to the fans, so they have something to laugh at, too. I like to put some different colored pants once in a while and maybe bright shirts, get a bit of energy on it.

But I don't know, I think it's pretty good. I think you see some nice outfits. Some of them maybe struggle a little bit, but there's some nice ones, too.

Q. What's your Augusta schedule?

SERGIO GARCIA: My Augusta schedule? Well, just probably get there on Monday afternoon and just start practicing on Tuesday and Wednesday and play for four days, hopefully, and spend a bit of extra time in the afternoon on Sunday sitting around, right next to the 18th hole, get a new jacket for my wardrobe. I don't know, we'll see.

Q. Where does it tournament fit into your list of tournaments to win?

SERGIO GARCIA: It's definitely high. It's definitely one of the top ones. This tournament, since the first year I've played it, it's always got into me. I've always liked the way it plays. Unfortunately we haven't been able to play this course nice and firm, only a couple of years in the last probably six or so. But I really like the way I really like the course. The course is one of my favorites, and the way it's set up it's I think it tests you a lot. And that's what a good course should do.

End of FastScripts.

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