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May 29, 2001

Sergio Garcia


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: All right. We'd like to thank you Sergio Garcia for joining us for a few minutes. Congratulations on your win --.


JOAN vT ALEXANDER -- two weeks ago at the MasterCard Colonial. Why don't you make a couple comments about the course today? I know you got to play about 16 holes.

SERGIO GARCIA: 16 holes, yeah.

JOAN vT ALEXANDER: And then we'll go into some questions.

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, well, as they tell us, it's been raining quite a bit last week. And you know you can see on the course that it's a little wet. But it's in very good conditions. Just a little wet, but other than that, the greens are nice. They're a little soft, but they're nice and smooth. And they're pretty fast. On the fairways, are in very good shape, just a little wet. Other than that, I think the course is very nice. Hopefully the weather will hold for this week. And you know, if the course gets a little firmer, it will be a good tournament be great.


Q. Sergio, what finally clicked for you at Colonial, and had you seen it coming week by week, your game?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I actually did. I mean I saw that I was hitting the ball better and better. You know, after the Masters and Hilton Head, they were two tough weeks. I went back home, played the Spanish Open. Played quite well. Putted very bad. Greens weren't good there. But I finished 16th. I felt like I was hitting the ball pretty well. I practiced more than anything my wedges. And my home crowd, started coming out. Played really well for the last three days at Byron Nelson. Finished 8th. And then at Colonial, I was hitting the ball pretty solid. You know, first couple days I didn't make many putts, but Saturday and Sunday, I putted well, and you know, it just, everything went the right way.

Q. What was the difference between the way you started playing the last couple weeks and had been playing. Everything came together, or was it mostly putting?

SERGIO GARCIA: Mostly putting, yeah. I putted -- I made more putts. It's not that I putted better, just that I made more putts. I'll say my practice with the wedges was pretty good. I felt like even with the course playing as hard as it was and the greens as firm as they were, I felt like I could hit it really close with my wedges every single time, I could hit in the range where I can make a lot of putts. That gives you a lot of confidence coming into the greens. That was a nice feeling for me to have in that tournament.

Q. During the practice round, would you rather that the greens in particular are a little bit more firmer than they might be under drier conditions so you get a feel how they're rolling as opposed to when they are wet and you aim the ball at the pin and they stick?

SERGIO GARCIA: It's tough because, for example, at the Colonial, first Tuesday and Wednesday, the greens were absolutely rock hard. I mean they were really, really firm. And I was kind of surprised they were so firm on the practice round. So I'm thinking if they didn't take care of them, they might lose them. Then we get to the tournament, and for the first three rounds, the greens were petty soft. I was surprised. I was suspecting more, them being a little soft in the practice rounds and get firmer and firmer as the tournament goes on. But they were, you know, on Sunday they were more the way I wanted them to be, like firm and difficult to hit it close. So you have to hit a lot of shots, making sure to hit in the right spot even if you're not going for the pin, hit it probably 20 feet or 15 feet even with a wedge; and try to make that putt. You know, that's the kind of golf I really enjoy playing, and it was the kind of golf we had to play there in the last round. Hopefully this week, the weather will be good and the greens will get firmer.

Q. The Ryder Cup is obviously quite a ways a way. Would you like it to become more civil? What do you think it will take to reach that?

SERGIO GARCIA: Of course, to get into Ryder Cup team, I still have to -- I'm going to play U.S. Open and Loch Lomond and British. In those tournaments, and then the PGA and NEC, hopefully, I will play well in those tournaments, I should be able to get my spot. There's a lot of guys, like last week a lot of guys came in the Ryder Cup team, thanks to , you know, quite a big purse there in Europe. You know, I think that with a chance I have on the majors and a couple more tournaments, you know, if I get playing the way I'm playing, I should be able to make it.

Q. You played in the '99, how uncivil or civil was that? Would you like it to become a little more --?

SERGIO GARCIA: Probably like it to be a little more relaxed. You know, maybe got too crazy, I'll say. But it still was a lot of fun to play. You know, you could almost touch the atmosphere there, the pressure, the pressure that was in the air. I probably say that it got to that point because you know, the U.S. lost two in a row and looked like they were going to lose three in a row, so they really wanted to win that one. But I don't think it's going to be as it was two years ago. I think it's going to be a lot calmer.

Q. Do you think the players feed off the fans or the fans feed off the players?

SERGIO GARCIA: I don't know. We're getting to a point that I don't think is either good for me and the fans, and the players, so... What was done is done. You just have to remember that Ryder Cup for the good golf that everybody was able to see for the three days. I think that's what you have to stick with.

Q. I was wondering, your attitude on the golf course is so carefree. And some of the things you do, even in little guys like me, inspire a lot of laughter. What was the biggest reaction you've gotten from something you've done on a golf course. I'm not talking about a shot, but a reaction. Something in Medinah, jumping up or something else?

SERGIO GARCIA: That's probably been the biggest reaction I had in my life, about, with the public, the fans. It was something that just came naturally, and I was just trying to look, to see where the ball was going. You know, everybody liked it. But you know, it was one of those things that you don't even think about it. You just do it, you're in the momentum of a tournament. You're fighting to try to win a major. I don't know, you just do it, and all of a sudden it becomes so popular. You know, it's quite fun to see, you know, how people react to those kind of things.

Q. Having won two weeks ago, do you look at that as more or less a breakthrough that you can win easier again now?

SERGIO GARCIA: I think so, yeah, because I felt like I should have won before, but I wasn't able to. It was everybody around was like, you know, "Let's see if you win." Friends at home are, "Come on, let's do it." People would come to me, say, "What's going on? You're not playing well." I was like: "I'm not playing that bad. I just haven't won." Now, I think that after winning my first tournament, now, you get to a point where you're there, in hand, you're playing to win a tournament -- one of these thoughts might not go through your mind like you're there thinking: "I have to win. I haven't won, so..." You might put some extra pressure on yourself. Now that I've done it, you know, just going to keep playing, trying to keep playing well. You know, hopefully I'll be in that position a lot more times. If I'm in that position, I'm sure I'll lose some but I'll win some too.

Q. In addition to the majors, where does this tournament fit in, in one you would like to win?

SERGIO GARCIA: Of course, practically I mean all the tournaments we play here in the States are great. If you have to put them in a certain level, of course, majors are first, then you have the World events. Of course, TPC is kind of like we consider like a major, so... But after those, myself, I put like for myself, Bay Hill, Byron Nelson, Colonial and Memorial I kind of put them in the top after those. You know, I hope -- I think this is a great tournament. I played in '99. I really enjoyed it. I like the golf course. I think it's a great golf course. I'm looking forward to play well and hopefully win it one day.

Q. How does Muirfield fit your game?

SERGIO GARCIA: It all depends on how you play. If you play well, you can play everywhere in the whole world. Doesn't matter what kind of course. But it just is not how it fits my game, it's how you feel when you play it. I feel pretty comfortable on it. I feel like I can move the ball around pretty nicely. I don't feel really uncomfortable over the tee and stuff like that. It feels like it could be a good course. You know, I don't feel uncomfortable on it. Hopefully, I'll be able to play some good golf.

Q. Sergio, I've been out here a couple years. Do you still run into people who are surprised to find out how young you still are?

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah. To some people it feels like it's been a long time. This is my third year and: Gee, you've been here for a long time here. Some people kind of think you're older than what you are. When you tell them, they go: "You're only 21?!" They realize. But I kind of feel myself like I'm older than 21. I feel like I've been around here more than only three years. At least I've learned more than what I've learned in three years.

Q. Physically you still feel 21 though?


Q. A lot of talk about riding versus walking with the Casey Martin thin. You're a guy that often runs. Can you talk about where that enthusiasm comes from, why you do that?

SERGIO GARCIA: I don't know. It's just the way I am. I like to be that way. I kind of enjoy running. I enjoy playing soccer a lot. That involves a lot of running. But, you know, it's just something that I feel comfortable with. If sometimes I get a little behind, and I feel like I have to -- I don't want anybody to be waiting for me. So maybe some players might think, okay. Doesn't matter, I like to be up there. So maybe I give a little run.

Q. If there was a runner's tour, you would be right there?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, that would be quite fun. (Laughter.)

Q. Tiger Woods has overshadowed a lot of guys, most of the guys on Tour. Do you think that happened with you? And in some cases, has that helped you because you are only 21 and it's allowed you to mature without being the new young guy that's expected to win all the time?

SERGIO GARCIA: Might have. Probably so, yeah. I think it overshadowed everybody. What he's done has been amazing. Probably might have helped me, might have helped me a little bit. I don't know. I can't really tell. But you know, I'm glad the way everybody's worked out. Even my first victory took a little time here, but it finally came. It was pretty sweet. You know, it felt really good.

Q. During the stretch you didn't win, some people criticized you for working with your father and not bringing somebody else in. Was it pretty neat having him there when you broke through?

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, it was. It was a hard time. But you know, we knew more than anything, my dad, my family, me, we knew what was best for me. We didn't care. I mean, there's you know, a lot of people who say things. If it would have been that easy to come out here and play in the U.S. Tour, everybody could do it. The most important thing to do is to have it clear in your mind and know what you want and what is best for you, and that's why I stick with him, and that's why I try to defend him as much as I can.

Q. Did you feel you won for him too that day?

SERGIO GARCIA: I feel I won for all my family and for me.

Q. Do you still have your fair share of fan club and groupies? When you came here a couple years ago, you were bigger than Tiger, at least I think among the female population that day, it seemed like. Is there still that phenomenon or aura you think.

SERGIO GARCIA: I still see some girls around. You know, it's not -- I have no complaints about that (Laughter.) It's pretty good. I think it's still probably in this last year, because I haven't won and all that happened, probably might have gone down a little. But now I think it's starting to come back again. You know, it's nice to see a lot of people around following me, and you know, rooting for me. I think Dallas was unbelievable. I mean, they've always liked me there since the first tournament I played Byron Nelson when I finished third. Last two weeks I played there, amazing how much they root for me and how much they were helping me.

Q. It sounds like you're confident heading into this tournament with your win that you had a while ago. How are you feeling physically? Are you rested? Loose?

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, well, I feel pretty good. I've been, as most of the players, I'm working out, still working out the whole year. I feel pretty good. It's a little tougher for me because when I want to take a week off, go back home, I have to fly a little. I usually try to sleep as much as I can on the plane. Other than that, it felt good to go back to Spain and spend six days there with my friends and my family. Just relax a little, forget a little bit about everything here. You know, it feels good to be back, and you know, confident and trying to play as well as I was two weeks ago.

Q. In the long-term, where do you see yourself playing more? Here or --?

SERGIO GARCIA: Here, no doubt. Here.

Q. If you were going to play 25 events, 15 here? 10 back home?

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, probably that. But you never know.

Q. Do you have an opinion on or reaction to the Casey Martin decision today?

SERGIO GARCIA: No. Well, I'm not -- I don't know what's going on with that. I don't have -- I don't think I have a fair answer to tell you. Sorry.

Q. You mentioned that you play in the United States more. What is the toughest adjustment when you go back and forth? What do you do, when you go to Europe, and how difficult is it to make those adjustments on a weekly basis?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, golfwise, I don't feel like it's that big. Usually the weather is a lot better here, so you kind of like, you loose up a little better, because it's a little warmer. But you know, golfwise, I don't feel like for me, for example, I don't feel like I play that different from Europe to -- I just try to play what I feel, the shot I feel more comfortable with, even if I play it here or in Europe. Probably here, you have to hit it a little higher, and you know, try to stop it faster on the green, because you know, usually the greens are a lot more firmer than there. But sometimes I just try to get what it feels right for me. The shot that feels right for me and just try to hit it.

Q. Do you agree when people say it's getting harder and harder for a shorter hitter -- this doesn't apply to you -- but for a shorter hitter to win on Tour because of the overwhelming number of guys who hit the ball so well?

SERGIO GARCIA: It might be. I think it's getting harder for the long hitters too because there are more and more long hitters. So you know, if you see the last, I, mean the winners this year, I mean, there's so many different ones. You know, I think that the level in the PGA TOUR is getting to a point where it is really high. Every time, every tournament you have six or seven players that can win the tournament almost every week. That's great to have. You know, that's something that doesn't happen too often.

Q. The game plan that you used on Sunday at Colonial, a lot of long irons off the tees. Can you use that same strategy in the future majors when you might not feel totally comfortable with your driver to win one of those?

SERGIO GARCIA: Yes. I mean, it's a possibility. More than anything, it's not that I don't feel comfortable with my driver, because I usually hit my driver very well. There at Colonial, the fairways were so firm that, you know, you could hit 280 yards. It wasn't even worth it to hit a driver because then you weren't going to be able to spin on the greens. But it's the thing that it might work in the majors. It all depends on the course and how it's playing, of course. Because if it's playing long, even with thick rough, I mean, you don't want to hit, don't want to be hitting 4- or 5-irons into those greens. But it's something that gives you confidence to see that you can still make birdies. You don't have to hit sand wedges to the green to be able to make birdies.

Q. When your short game is on, it's one of the best in the world. Did you get influenced by Olazabal and Seve? Did they give you some tips growing up, or was this something that came from practice, practice, practice?

SERGIO GARCIA: I think a little bit of both. You know, I practice a lot my short game, my short game, my putting, my chipping. Of course, because of playing with Seve and Olazabal -- more I'll say probably more Seve than Olazabal, it just got to a point where I will see him chipping around, and you know, will try some of the shots he hits and stuff like that. But, you know, he gave me some tips, yeah. I'm for sure they helped. At the end it gets to a point you do it the way you feel better. So it can help that he gives you some tips, but then you still have to practice it, and see what, where you feel best doing. Sometimes, you might have a shot where I might flop it and somebody might just hit it lower and stuff like that. So -- but for sure, it did help a little.

Q. Because of what he's done the last two years, Tiger will be the favorite going to the tee Thursday. Does it mean anything to you to play in an event with him? Is it fun to try to beat him?

SERGIO GARCIA: It's more fun than playing in a tournament that he's not playing. Because you know that he's always, he's going to be there, and you know that he tried -- it makes you take everything out of you to try to beat him. So you know that you have to play as well as you can. And if not, you're probably not going to beat him. I think it helps you get to a different level, and that's what you're searching for.

JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Sergio, thank you for joining us. Play well this week.


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