June 13, 2000
LES UNGER: Welcome, everybody, to the 100th U.S. open. And we're delighted to have it started off with a bright young player. And I wanted to ask you first, you played in the Pro Am here, and you had at least one practice round here. If you would describe, as you can, the conditions, how much they've changed from that event, (AT&T), to this event.
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I would say that the only similarities I see with the AT&T and the course right now, is that the holes look the same way, but on some of them they don't look like -- for example, 17. But the course is totally different, though. It's difficult to keep it on the fairways, and the greens are so much firmer. So I think the AT&T was a good tournament for me to see the holes and how the course would draw and everything, but now we've got to take care of today and tomorrow. Make two good practice rounds, because it's going to be very important to see how much the ball is going to roll, and all that stuff.
LES UNGER: I notice in the last four results we have for you: Cut, tie for 40th, tie for 15, and 3rd. There's a significant pattern, there.
SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, well, it's been -- that's PGA TOUR. It's been getting better, and also in Europe, I've been playing better, and we're getting our game back, and I'm feeling more comfortable. And you can just see in the playing, for example, last week, I had it so easy to win, and things happen. But it was great to be able to play again, and feel the pressure of vying for a win, and, of course, being the week before the U.S. open.
Q. Sergio, how important was it that you had a good tournament last week at the Buick to come into this championship?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, it was important. It was important, but I played very well -- I would say that I could have won that tournament, but the putter kind of didn't work as well as I would like it to. But last week I played very well, and I -- that's always important coming into a major, like the U.S. open, and I'm looking forward to seeing what we can do here.
Q. Sergio, how about your mental attitude approaching this tournament, are you doing anything to more or less get yourself up or does that come when you get on the first tee?
SERGIO GARCIA: No, you don't really have to be thinking too much of putting yourself up for this kind of tournament, just being here and seeing what it's all about, and all that surrounds this tournament. It just puts you up, and gives you a lot of -- you really want to be in this kind of tournament. You have to realize that U.S. opens and majors are tough mentally, and you've just got to be very patient and realize that sometimes even if you make the bogey, it's not that bad.
Q. Sergio, we heard something about you having problems with the crowd on the weekend?
SERGIO GARCIA: No, it was just a little thing that happened in New York, but it wasn't a big deal. It was just a couple guys that probably drank a little too much or something. But in every tournament you hear those comments, but it would be great not to hear them, but you're going to have to be prepared for that.
Q. Sergio, do you feel any extra pressure, did you notice that maybe you were put in the forefront of leading the European charge and trying to win the U.S. open? Europeans haven't done very well in the Open, and as this course sets up for you, do you feel that you can make a good run at the Open Championship?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I can tell you if I play the way I played last two rounds last week, I'm going to be up there, that's for sure. I don't know, I think -- I hope I do well. It could be European, American, South African or wherever. I'm not really thinking about that. I'm just here to try to play well, and try to win. We'll try to do our best.
Q. Sergio, before you ever played here, you probably heard a lot about Pebble Beach. I was just curious, now that you've seen the place, is there anything that surprises you about Pebble, about its look or anything that really kind of shocked you about it?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, of course the course is a beautiful course, but the views are just unbelievable. And I was talking to my mom yesterday and it was the first time she was here, and she was totally impressed. It was just -- she couldn't -- she was telling me, "I can't believe how beautiful is this place. It's just incredible." And with the day we're having, it's even better. So it's just a beautiful place to come and play.
Q. Sergio, would you say that there's any pressure to win on behalf of the European Ryder Cup team?
SERGIO GARCIA: I don't understand that question.
Q. I'm asking if you feel there would be any special pressure on you to win the American championship, after the incident at the Ryder Cup?
SERGIO GARCIA: No, but what are you trying to ask? Because of what? Because of being on the European team or because of what happened there or because of what?
Q. All of the above, both questions.
SERGIO GARCIA: No, I think I've been playing here, and it's not been a problem. The Ryder Cup is just one week, and the people know that. And here we're all individuals and we're trying to do the best we can. And it doesn't matter if you played in the Ryder Cup or not. This is the U.S. open.
Q. Sergio, I know you say there's no added pressure being a European player coming to the U.S. open. All the talk in every tournament in the United States is that Tiger Woods is the guy to beat; he's the toughest golfer in the world. Do you feel when you come here you're playing to beat Tiger Woods, or do you feel that the international players have a good shot at winning this event or do you play against the course?
SERGIO GARCIA: Of course you have to beat Tiger Woods, but last week I had to beat Dennis Paulson and David Duval, and Tiger wasn't there. You know Tiger is going to do well. Because his -- I mean, he can have a bad tournament, but he's always, most of the time, he's up there. You know you're going to have to beat him. But sometimes it's not just Tiger Woods, and I would say most of the times, because you have to try to beat everybody. Last year Payne won and Tiger finished third. So you have to beat Mickelson and Payne to win last year, not Tiger Woods. You have to realize that there's a lot of players that can win this tournament, and of course Tiger has a good chance, but we'll see how it goes on the weekend and during the week.
Q. Sergio, one of the criticisms that Tiger Woods faced the last couple of Opens, and the younger players faced was lack of patience, trying to force the issues and trying to make shots that you normally make on TOUR, but that you can't on the Opens. What adjustments will you need to make with your game, specifically playing this course and playing an Open Championship for four rounds?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, of course as I said, experience is always important, and patience is the most important thing. You have to be very patient this week. You have to be. As I said in the beginning, you have to realize that sometimes par is a great score and bogey is not that bad. You can be in a really bad position, and you've got to think, "Okay, I can try to hit this shot and maybe make par, but if I don't do it, maybe I make double or triple." So you've got to realize that unless you're doing bad -- if you're in a good position, sometimes bogey is not that bad and you're not going to back up too many places.
Q. Will you practice any particular shots more than normal to get ready for this?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, on this course you have to shape the ball a lot because of the fairways and the slope and everything. But, I don't know, of course you have to practice a little. Putting is going to be important.
Q. This being the 100th U.S. Open, and with Payne Stewart not being here to defend his Championship, is there a feeling out there amongst all the players, is this sort of a significant, different type of U.S. Open?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, of course it is without Payne, and what happened to him and everything. It's going to be -- something is going to be missing in this U.S. Open. I hope I could follow him this year, and it would be a great feeling to win after Payne did it and wasn't able to defend. Of course it's a special U.S. Open because of everything, because Payne is not here, because it's at Pebble Beach; it's the year 2000, and the 100th U.S. Open. It has a lot of things.
Q. Here at Pebble, as you know, there's going to be wind. And it seems to me that's got to be your forte, because you grew up with a little wind blowing across there?
SERGIO GARCIA: I like playing in the wind. I always did, and last week was a little windy and I did pretty well there, too. If you give me -- if I can choose between rain and wind, I always prefer to play in the wind.
Q. Sergio, you went through a difficult patch with your game earlier this year. How tough was it to cope with that and what has happened to turn your game around?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, it was tough at the beginning of the year, because I wasn't playing my best. I wasn't thinking as well last year, too, because I was seeing some shots and changing some of them, because talking to -- I probably -- I was trying to talk to my caddy, trying to play more the way my caddy wanted me to play than my way. And that probably hurt a little bit. We've been working very hard, and we know we can do it. So, we've been just working hard and trying to do our best. And we've been coming back and playing better and putting better. So everything is good, and also with -- I'm pretty happy with the golf course.
Q. I guess following up on that question, as a player who has achieved so much so early, and with the TOUR being as competitive as it is, do you feel any pressure to win these big tournaments, these majors earlier, or do you think that you do your best now and your time will come?
SERGIO GARCIA: No, I think -- no. I think I have to take my time. If I win now, it will be great, but the good thing is you don't realize I'm 20 years old; so I'm hopefully going to play a lot of majors, and hopefully I'll be lucky enough to win some of them. But I think you've just got to try to play well, and if you win, perfect. If not, just wait. It's great to win majors and all that stuff, but you just don't have to just focus on that. You've just got to go out there and try to win as many tournaments as you can, and if you don't win a major, then look down and say, it's okay. But if you play well and just stay patient, you can always win a U.S. Open or any type of major. That's what we're going to try to do. I don't know when it's going to come. Hopefully soon, but we'll see.
Q. Which part of the course do you feel is most difficult for you to play, what hole?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I would say 7, 8, 9 and 10 is probably the toughest stretch of the golf course. And then you have two good finishing holes, 17 and 18 to finish with; they're tough to win. I would say those four are the ones that are more difficult to handle.
Q. Sergio, Tiger has been in contention on Sunday in every tournament but one over the last 13 months. What do you think of that? Do you think you could ever achieve or anyone else achieve that level of consistency over such a long period of time?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I don't know. I think that if I keep playing well, maybe, maybe yes. But that's not something that I want to focus on, you know. I don't know if I'm as consistent -- right now, I'm not as consistent as him, and I don't know if I can become that consistent. But I just think I have to focus myself. I don't have to see just Tiger, because I think if you focus in on one player, and you're trying to just do some of the stuff he does, and be as consistent as him, it can be bad, because you just forget about yourself, and you've got to try to be your own person and realize that sometimes you're going to have bad tournaments. But just try to be yourself and just try to play your own game. If you get as consistent as him, that's great, but if not, just try to be happy with yourself and play well.
Q. Do you ever find yourself at the end of the round and you see what your score is, do you look to see where Tiger is out of curiosity, if nothing else?
SERGIO GARCIA: I do. I like to see -- well, I don't always know, but you always want to see how far in front or how far behind you are from him, because he's a good player to look up to see what the tournament is doing. If he's doing well, you know that beating him you're going to be probably winning the tournament or getting very close to it.
Q. Seve and Olazabal, like you, have wonderful short games; they can create shots around the greens to save pars and make birdies, both can get streaky hot with putters, but neither have done well in Open competition, U.S. Open competition. And I was wondering from your perspective how your game sets up now in relation to theirs, and why not, for your success at the Open?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, it's my first Open, too; so hopefully I'll do well. But I would say that for the last probably two months, I became a very good driver player. I've been hitting a lot of fairways, and striking the ball pretty well. I would say I'm not as good as both of them around the greens, but I don't think I'm that bad. So I can make some good putts from around the green, too. But most important with that is what I said at the beginning; that I'm hitting my driver real well and I'm very comfortable with it, and I'm hitting a lot of fairways, and that's always very important.
LES UNGER: Sergio, thank you. Good luck.
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