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WGC ACCENTURE MATCH PLAY CHAMPIONSHIP

February 19, 2002

Sergio Garcia

CARLSBAD, CALIFORNIA

SCOTT CROCKETT: Welcome, Sergio. Thank you for coming in.

You've had a start to the season in America, and performance pretty good all around. Maybe you could kick it off by telling us how you feel coming into the championship.

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I don't feel -- I don't feel too bad. I didn't strike the ball as crisp as I was striking it at the beginning of the year last week, but, you know, it's getting there. I'm just looking forward to keep the momentum going, and the good results that I've been having.

You know, I've always liked match-play, so I think if you're able to get some momentum in this kind of tournament, you get a couple -- you're a little lucky and then you don't play that great, the guy you play with plays a little worse and you get through. You know, that's all it is about match-play. Hopefully, I'll be able to do that.

Q. Just curious, how important for you is the pre-shot routine?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, it's important. More than anything, because you want to feel as comfortable as you can over the ball -- and you know, having everything clear. So I'll say it's quite important.

Q. What's your form been like since Mercedes?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, it's been -- it hasn't been bad. I played quite well at the Sony Open. I putted really bad. I think it was like 48th or something like that. I went down to Australia and played really well, but didn't putt well and finished third. Last week, I didn't hit the ball that great, struggled around and made some good saves and finished 13th.

It has not been bad. It has not been as great as I started, but it's one of those things that the year goes when you have your peaks and your little lows. You know, might not be playing great, but I'm still playing well, so it's still okay.

Q. Peaks and lows, are your lows better than they used to be?

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, a lot better. I feel myself -- even from last year, I feel like now even when I'm not playing my best, I still can score and still can get through the round shooting a decent score, and that's always important. Because it's easy to shoot good scores when you're playing well, but I think the most difficult thing is to hold it together when things are not going great. You know, I think that I've improved a lot there.

Q. A lot of people are banking you to win a major this year. Are you backing yourself?

SERGIO GARCIA: Am I'm backing myself?

Q. Yes.

SERGIO GARCIA: Of course. I feel like I'm good enough, I'm playing well enough to win one. Then it all comes down to, you know, playing well that week and having, "The" week, because I'm having a week where I'm going to hit bad shots, so you make great saves or putt well.

Even if I don't, I'm looking to put myself in good positions to at least have chances of winning. So, that will be a good thing to do. And if I'm able to do that, I will be able to win -- I'll be able to pull it off and win.

Q. Is there a major, Sergio, that you think best suits you?

SERGIO GARCIA: I don't know, I couldn't tell you. I've always liked Augusta. I won the British Amateur at Muirfield where we are playing this year, so that's going to be good. The other two courses, I don't know, but they are great courses. If I can keep driving the ball the way I've been driving it and play the way I've been playing, I should be able to have chances of winning.

I don't know which one suits my game better or not. Hopefully, all four. (Smiles).

Q. You mentioned the match-play and how you like it. Is it more of a level playing field for everybody in match-play?

SERGIO GARCIA: More than anything, I think it's -- to start with, it's different because you're only playing against one guy. To win the tournament, you only have to win six or seven matches, so that's a big difference. You don't have to beat like 130 players or something like that; that sometimes it's tough.

But it's a formula I've always liked. I've been playing since I was very little, playing around Spain and match plays, and, of course, going to England and playing British Boys and British Amateurs. I've always enjoyed it.

Unfortunately, we don't play it much. But it's a format that I think that makes you think a lot and makes you take care of the opponent you have, you are playing against, and I think that's a good way of changing the play sometimes. You know, it makes you think a little different.

Q. Sergio, how much do you think long hitters like you will be benefitted by the extra length at Augusta?

SERGIO GARCIA: Of course, we'll be benefitted a little because it will be a big difference between hitting, maybe, a 7- or 6-iron, instead of hitting a 4-iron to those kind of greens. But, you've got to realize that it's all about putting, too. You've got to putt well. It doesn't matter how long you hit the ball. If you're not able to putt at Augusta, you can't win. That's one thing, that if you're able to have that week where, you know, you get the confidence feeling, you should be able to do well, even if you're not a long hitter because you can get it on the green and everybody is going to have to hit it close; and if you're able to make the putts, it's going to make the difference.

Q. Had when you're playing match-play, how important is the psychological aspect?

SERGIO GARCIA: It can be important, more than anything coming down the stretch, when everything is tied maybe the other guy feels a little pressure or he gets a little scared of winning maybe, stuff like that. So it can help, there's no doubt about that. It's not the same thing against Tiger Woods than playing against a guy who is higher in the rankings.

You know, you still have to play well enough to win, but it can give you a little extra -- extra thing to be able to pull it off.

Q. You have a reputation for being self-confident, do you think you start match-play with a bit of an advantage in that regard?

SERGIO GARCIA: It could. It could, for sure. But more than anything, it will be for me more than the other guy because the other guy is going to go out there trying to beat me, there's no doubt about that. It might help me a little, knowing that I've played match-play and I like it and I've usually done pretty well at it.

You know, at the end of the day, you still have to play well, make birdies and you have to be able -- because the other guys can play, too. So you have to be careful with that.

Q. Can you talk about your opponent, who's won majors, U.S. Opens (Lee Janzen)?

SERGIO GARCIA: It looks like he's coming back, he's playing a little better, so that's good. It's not going to be an easy game, an easy match. There's no doubt about that. He's a great player. He's won a lot of tournaments. He's won U.S. Opens. You know, every time you face a major winner, you always have to be a little careful of what you do, because, you know he can play the game of golf. Even if you know he's not at his best, he can still shoot some good rounds. So you have to be careful with that, and just try to play a little better than him.

Q. Will you stay in the States between THE PLAYERS Championship and the Masters?

SERGIO GARCIA: No, I don't. I'll go back home.

Q. So you won't play?

SERGIO GARCIA: A couple of weeks.

End of FastScripts....

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