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MERCEDES CHAMPIONSHIPS

January 5, 2006

Sergio Garcia

KAPALUA, HAWAII

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Past champion Sergio Garcia, thank you for joining us here. First round 71, 2-under-par. Off to a good start. Opening comments on a pretty windy day out there.

SERGIO GARCIA: Yes, it was definitely windy. It wasn't easy by all means. Pretty happy about it. You know, first round of the year, it's always nice to get it under par.

A little bit of a shaky start, then started playing a bit more consistent. Made a couple nice putts when I had to. Pretty happy about it overall.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: We'll go right into questions.

Q. You mentioned a couple nice putts. You say you're focusing on your putting for this year. These greens are a fairly good early test of your putting, I would think.

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah. They're tough greens. They're rolling very nicely. So it definitely is a good test. I started bad early. I made a weak 3-putt on the first. From then on, I kind of focused a little bit more, got some nice consistency on my putts. I hit a lot of good putts. I didn't make a lot. But short ones, I was pretty good with them, with the wind and everything. Then I made a couple nice ones to finish with, so that was nice.

Q. You said yesterday putting is in the head, not in the hands. Clearly you were feeling confident in the head with your putting.

SERGIO GARCIA: A little bit, yeah. It's a slow process. You can't go from struggling, having trouble holding putts, to making everything just like that. It's a slow process, just working on it. Hopefully as I keep playing, and if I keep making good putts here and there, feeling confident, consistent over the ball, it's going to be important.

Q. How much different, I assume better, too, are you a golfer than when you won here a couple years back?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I think that I've definitely improved. If not, I'll be a bit afraid of it, I'd be a little bit worried. But I definitely -- you know, I definitely improved, not only in my game, but the way I approach the game, how I take things on the golf course. That's also important. It's not only maturing as a player, but also knowing what's going on around the golf course, how to take all those good and bad things.

Q. When you won that year, I remember you talked about perhaps leading both the US and European Tours in money. Nobody has ever done that.

SERGIO GARCIA: If you think about it, yeah, there's a guy that has done it probably three or four or five times. He just hasn't joined the European Tour. It can be done.

Q. Playing both places, 15 or 13 tournaments at each place, it's could be done.

SERGIO GARCIA: I think maybe you have to play a little bit more. Probably play somewhere around 20 events here, 14 or 15 in Europe. But you have to play really well. That's not easy to do, no doubt about that.

But it can be done. It's a tough task, but it can be done.

Q. So much focus on your putting, are the new greens helping or hurting you?

SERGIO GARCIA: No, they're great. They roll beautifully. Today was actually quite a tough day of putting, mainly because of the speed of the greens and the wind, getting used to the speed with the wind and everything.

But, no, it definitely helps.

Q. What is the adjustment from last year, from when you've been here before? What is the adjustment specifically?

SERGIO GARCIA: On these greens?

Q. Yes.

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, you have to realize that now, as quick as they are, a lot of the breaks are much bigger than they used to be. Some putts are a lot quicker than they used to be. For example, today on 13, I hit a bad second shot to the right. I had probably about a 60-footer, kind of downhill, right to left. I hit a putt and I thought it was a pretty good putt. I ran it probably 12 feet by. I thought it was a good putt.

Some of those putts that used to be quick but not that quick, now they're really quick. For example, 18, that third shot into that back pin like we had today, I remember you couldn't get it to the pin in the past years. It was always difficult to get it all the way up to the pin. Today, for example, if you're on the middle of the fairway, you have to hit a perfect shot, kind of leave it on the top, it kind of runs all the way down to the hole. That's something that never happened here.

There's a couple of things you're going to get as the week goes on, as you play it more and more.

Q. How tough were the conditions today? Are you surprised at all that 69 is leading so far?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, maybe you could be a little bit, but it shows you what we were talking about. It shows you that, first of all, it's quite windy. And second of all, with the speed of the greens, some putts that before you could really attack, now you have to be a bit more careful because you can run it four, five, six feet by easily. Then with this wind, those putts are not easy to hole.

That surprised me a little bit, but at the same time it's showing that the course is playing a little bit tougher. It's still going to be a low-scoring -- a low winning score, but maybe not as low as we're used to seeing.

Q. What do you think it's going to take to win this week number-wise if it stays like it was today?

SERGIO GARCIA: One less than the second (smiling).

Q. With the old grain, you would get those putts where you would hit them, they'd start to slow down, then make a quick turn just before the cup. Do you get that as much now since they've changed them?

SERGIO GARCIA: No, not at all. Well, I mean, now it's more -- a little bit of the grain, but more of the hill. Before they were a lot bumpier. Into the grain, it was hard to hit a putt and see it roll nice. For example, today, I saw Bart Bryant hit a couple putts into the grain from 18, 20 feet. You could see the ball, it was just rolling beautifully all the way up to the hole, not taking any bounces or anything.

It definitely makes it a bit tougher down the hill because it's a lot quicker. But uphill, you know, it's nice to see that you can give it a nice roll and it's going to stay in line.

Q. Does that put a premium on being in the right place on the greens?

SERGIO GARCIA: Definitely, yes. No doubt about it.

Q. What is this hairstyle thing? You were talking on television about you, Tim Clark, Adam Scott. Whose idea was it?

SERGIO GARCIA: I guess all three of us kind of talked about it a little bit. We thought it could be fun. I've never grown my hair much. It's actually fun just to be able to hold on to something.

Q. Has Adam got enough of an advantage with the curly hair?

SERGIO GARCIA: Mine is quite curly. I straightened it about two weeks ago. Mine is quite curly. It's a lot thinner than Adam's so it kind of falls down a little bit more. His stays up a little bit. It's nice to see him without a hat.

Q. Can you kick a soccer ball with those shoes?

SERGIO GARCIA: You could, yeah.

Q. With the plate?

SERGIO GARCIA: They're similar. Actually, of course, it's a golf shoe, but some -- for example, this middle part, they took it from the soccer boots because they're very stable, and that's something that is nice to feel when you're playing out there. You feel like your foot is nice and stable, and it doesn't move. I'm actually very happy with these shoes. They're very comfortable. I think they're great.

Q. When you look at how your swing has evolved during your career, where was it when it really felt comfortable, you didn't really have to think about it so much, it just felt second nature?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I guess since I went through the swing changes in 2003, I guess towards -- probably towards mid end of 2004, starting to, you know, I feel like I was doing it the right way, I didn't have to think so much about it. You're always tweaking things, you know, here and there, trying to improve it. But the main thing is done, and that's the important thing.

Q. What kinds of shots were there that finally told you it had arrived?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, just mainly consistency. I used to curve the ball a lot more than I do now, although I always play with -- I always like to fade and draw the ball, hit it low and high, all those kind of things. But, you know, my ball used to have a bigger tail than it has now. It's easy to control. It doesn't go as much off line. It's a lot more consistent.

Q. When you come to press rooms, and I think you know this, you're going to be continually asked about the majors. Does that bother you or can you just ignore the questions? Obviously, only a guy who has won and is up there gets asked those questions. Mickelson got asked for years, et cetera. Do you say, "Here we go again"? Do you sort of laugh it off?

SERGIO GARCIA: No, it doesn't really bother me. I've always said it. I just try to take the positive out of it. If I was 40 or 45, it would bother me, not because of you asking me, but because of me not having been able to win a major more than anything. No, it doesn't bother me at all.

Q. Are you pleased with your own patience in that regard? Everyone wants to rush the timetable to win a major. Do you think you've been pretty patient with yourself?

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, I think so. I mean, don't get me wrong, I try to win as many majors as I can. As soon as I tee it up there in a major, I try to win. I'm not thinking, "Well, let's go for the next one, not this one." But I'm not bothered. I'm not bothered about it. It's not a life-or-death situation.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Thank you.

End of FastScripts.

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