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MERCEDES CHAMPIONSHIPS

January 6, 2002

Sergio Garcia

KAPALUA, HAWAII

TODD BUDNICK: We'd like to welcome Sergio Garcia, winner of the 2002 Mercedes Championships. Sergio's third victory in the last two years. He collects a $720,000 winner's check and a hundred points towards the West Coast swing presented by St. Paul.

Sergio, how happy are you?

SERGIO GARCIA: I'm very happy. You know, as you say, it's great to start this way. You can't dream of a better way to start the year.

You know, during the week, I was rusty. I still feel like I'm a little rusty because some of the shots, some of the bogeys I made from 50 yards or 70 yards, I don't usually do those things.

But it's been getting better and better. I'm looking forward to play next week, have a little rest, go on a helicopter trip tomorrow and enjoy the island and go to play at the Sony.

TODD BUDNICK: Get to come back next year like you wanted to ?

SERGIO GARCIA: Perfect. That's the best way to have a year, when you know you're coming back.

Q. Looks like you got lei'd after all?

SERGIO GARCIA: Not yet (smiling).

Q. Where did you feel the turning point came in the final round today?

SERGIO GARCIA: I think 9 was important. That eagle was pretty key because it just kept me going. After birdie-ing 5 and 6, hitting two good shots on the next two, not being able to make any of those putts, to be able to make eagle on 9 was amazing. Because the way the pin was, I don't think that many people were going to be able to make eagle. So to be able to hit that shot and then the birdie on 10 was great, too.

But unfortunately, I didn't like at all the bogey I made on 14. But, you know, I said to Glen, "We need three more coming in. We'll see what happens."

Q. Where were you standing when Toms had his birdie putt in regulation? Did you see it?

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah. I was at the players' lounge right on the locker.

Q. Was the mist still coming down when had you your putt in the playoff?

SERGIO GARCIA: Excuse me?

Q. Was there any mist still coming down, little bit of rain, when you had your putt? Were you concerned about the speed?

SERGIO GARCIA: I was concerned more than anything because I saw his putt, and I think it was probably the same place. So I saw it on TV. I hit mine in regulation from the opposite side. I hit it inside left and I made it. So I actually thought he made the putt on regulation. Then it stayed short. I knew that it was just inside right putt. So I hit it right there, perfect stroke, in the middle.

Q. He said when he didn't make the putt in regulation, it was to your advantage because 18 and even 1 suits you better than it does him. Do you feel the same way?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I actually wanted to, if possible, to end it up on 18 because I'm longer than him, so I knew if I hit a good drive, I could reach it. I didn't strike it well. I hit it a little thin. That's why it didn't roll all the way down like the first time.

But, you know, although I played the 1st hole very well every day, I was hoping to not get to that because I know he's a great player and a great striker of the ball. You know, he can hit a 5-wood or a 3-iron to get on the first. I wanted to give myself a chance there.

Q. In regulation, you had to make a birdie putt on 18. Was that a downhill putt? Difficult read? How long was it?

SERGIO GARCIA: No, the second one wasn't. The second one was pretty much maybe a hair uphill. I don't know, probably a little bit of mist, a little bit of the water got me there on the first putt because I thought I hit it hard enough. I left it about, I don't know, I'll say 12 feet short, something like that.

You know, I know that Jim Furyk last year he made a similar putt. It looks like it's almost going to go left, but it actually goes a little right. Inside left, trust it, perfect.

Q. How did you know Furyk made a putt from that spot? You watched it on TV?

SERGIO GARCIA: I watched it last year, yeah. I wasn't here, but I was checking it out (smiling).

Q. You remember the putt?

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah. I mean, he made it. He went (fist clenching).

Q. You've been talking during the week that this might be a breakout year for you. Looks like The TOUR is catching up to Tiger a little bit. You and some of the other young players might make that move. What does this do for you, this win? Does it really sort of say, "I can do it"?

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah. Well, I never had a doubt that I could do it. I'm starting to get used to it about coming back from behind and all that stuff. You know, I hope not to have to do it too many times.

I think it's great. It's more confidence for me. It's going to help me to keep improving during the year. I don't know, it just -- just keep the same work line I've been working on, just keep working as hard as I can. You know, sometimes it's going to go the right way. Sometimes, unfortunately, it won't. Just got to keep going.

Q. Playoffs are now your thing, it seems.

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, well, it wasn't, and all of a sudden it is. Yeah, I lost a couple last year, and I won one. Now I won two with this win. You never know. As I said, it's sudden death. You never know what's going to happen. You might hit a good shot. The other guy might hole a long putt, something like that. You don't feel like you should lose, but unfortunately you do sometimes.

Q. Is there any difference in comfort level from the ones you lost to now?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, the good thing about it was that, you know, at TOUR Championship, David, Ernie Els, Mike Weir and me, we played the playoff, we lost it, Mike won it. Then I went in and I played against Ernie in another playoff at Sun City, and I won it. So inside me, I was confident. I was thinking, "Well, you know, Mike is not here. That's a good thing (laughter). Against the other guy that was on the playoff, I won a month ago."

But you never know what's going to happen, though. I just gave myself the best chance I could. You know, I really felt like, you know, I've been striking the putt absolutely amazing.

Q. This bid of yours to win on both tours, do you know if the money you earn in majors, like the Masters and The Opens, does that apply to both?

SERGIO GARCIA: Yes, it does.

Q. But on the World Golf Championships, you have to pick one?

SERGIO GARCIA: It does, too. If you have both cards, it does.

Q. What's the minimum in Europe?

SERGIO GARCIA: 11 tournaments.

Q. And 15 here?

SERGIO GARCIA: Yes.

Q. What would happen if The TOUR had not sided with you, only playing ten last year, would you have been a member this year?

SERGIO GARCIA: Probably wouldn't.

Q. No?

SERGIO GARCIA: Probably not. But they did what they had to do. I'm glad they did.

Q. When we asked you about that quote earlier this week, you said I want to, you didn't say you were going to do. Now that you've won this tournament, does it all of a sudden become that much more real?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I'm leading the Money List right now (laughter). At least I can say, when I get old, I talk to my nephews and all that stuff, I can say, "Well, I was the money leader for at least a week." I don't know.

But it's great. Of course, is the perfect way to start, if you want to do that. You know, I just got to keep it going, you know, win as many as I can. Let's see if we can do it.

Q. No. 9, the eagle? What was your distance to the hole, your club, your thought? Did it do exactly what you wanted it to do?

SERGIO GARCIA: I went about this far too far left (two feet). I had 261 yards to the hole, I think, a little downhill lie. I hit a perfect low-cut 3-wood. I was trying to hit it in the middle of the green, little cut, it goes to the middle of the green. It actually went perfect, just left of the bunker, rolled over there, two and a half feet. Thanks for coming.

TODD BUDNICK: Let's go through the rest of the round. Starting with a birdie on 3.

SERGIO GARCIA: 3, good drive to the right-hand side edge of the fairway. I think I hit a great shot with a lob wedge, hit it to about 10, 11 feet, made it.

Then on 5, hit not a very good drive, but on the fairway left. Then I hit a 3-wood just left of the green. Quite a tough chip. Chipped it not bad, but didn't get a very good bounce. Hit it to about probably the same, about ten feet, and made it.

Then on 6, I hit a great drive just on the edge of the green. I hit what I thought was a very good chip. I don't know, it was slower than what I thought. It was about nine feet. Made it. 9, you know.

Then on 10, I hit a good 2-iron to the fairway. Didn't catch a very good lie on the fairway, a little hole. I thinned it a little bit with my sand wedge to about 18, 19 feet, made it.

Then I didn't make birdie on 11, but I hit a good shot to about 11 feet. I hit a great putt, just an inch short.

Then on 13, I hit a great drive, middle of the fairway. I hit a good lob wedge, a little longer than what I wanted, to about 18 feet again, got it.

14, hit a great 3-wood, a little too close from the green than what I wanted. Then I hit a lob with a lob wedge, a little too short. Hit what I thought was a good chip. It rolled a little too much to about seven feet downhill. It looked like it was going to break left to right. It actually went the other way.

15, I hit a great drive middle of the fairway. Hit a great 3-wood from there from 251 to the hole. Actually I left my putt -- I let myself a very difficult putt from about, I don't know, 30, 35 feet. I didn't hit a bad putt to about four and a half feet, five feet, and made it.

16, hit a great drive again. Hit a very good lob wedge. Spun it back a little bit too much to about eight, nine feet, and made it.

Then on 18, I hit a good drive. I hit my 3-wood a little thin, just on the front of the green. Hit what I thought was a good putt. It didn't go too much. Left myself probably about a 12-footer. Holed it.

TODD BUDNICK: The playoff?

SERGIO GARCIA: In the playoff, I hit a little thin with my driver. That's why I didn't get it down as far as the first time. I hit a very good 3-wood this time, though, probably about 30 yards short of the green. I had about 70 yards to the hole. Just chipped it with a wedge to bounce it on top of the hill and let it roll towards the hole. Hit it just a little too hard to about 10, 12 feet again, and made it.

Q. Didn't you win in Germany in a playoff?

SERGIO GARCIA: Yes, I did.

Q. How many other playoffs have you been in worldwide?

SERGIO GARCIA: I've been in one, two, three, four, five, six playoffs, I think.

Q. In Europe?

SERGIO GARCIA: No, no, no, no. Overall. I've been in that one, the German Masters, '99. In 2001, last year, I lost in Australia against Aaron Baddeley. Then Sun City, then three in the States. I don't think I have any more.

Q. Right before you hit your chip in the playoff hole, seemed like you said something to the crowd.

SERGIO GARCIA: No, I didn't say anything. Well, I was talking to Glen. I was saying -- because I was going to hit the sand wedge, 52-degree sand wedge, I thought it looks like this one might spin too much. I wanted to make sure to get it to the hole because it's slower than what it looks. I was going to hit the sand wedge. I said, "I don't know, I feel like the wedge is going to be a better club to get it up there." I changed the club. Somebody in the crowd started going, "Oh. Are you getting nervous or something?" I was going to get my sleeve up. I went like this, just looked at him. I went like, "What?"

Q. Do you think it's possible for there to be a single rival for Tiger or do you think there's too many guys, yourself, Phil, whoever, there will always be a bunch of rivals?

SERGIO GARCIA: I've always said it. If you remember, you've been asking me this for a long time. When I mean "you," I mean you (everybody). You've asked a couple times, too, though.

I've always said that, yes, it's great for you guys to become the rivalry of Tiger Woods, whatever. But I've always said there's not two guys playing the tournament. This one was only 31 or 32. But there's usually about 125 or 130. All of them can play golf, and really well. And I don't think that you should just focus on one.

I mean, I think there's great players out there. As you said, there's Phil, there's David Duval, Chris DiMarco playing absolutely great, Mike Weir, Charles Howell. All of them are playing great. I think, you know, this is becoming a tour again. It used to be a tour and a guy, now it's becoming a tour again. So it's great to be able to be on that tour.

Q. We talked in the fall about how you had a great start to your career, the dip in 2000. Can you help us frame where you are now? Do you feel as though some of the adversity you went through has spurred you to become a better player?

SERGIO GARCIA: Yes, of course. To tell you the truth, I don't think that I'd be this good if I wouldn't have been that bad in 2000. I learned a lot of things in 2000. It made my family come even closer than what it was, and that gave me a lot of strength. You know, you guys still -- you know, I'm playing well and I'm winning. But you always have to look for something.

I think that, you know, everybody has their own little methods of playing golf. You know, maybe I regrip maybe too many times. But, I don't know, maybe amateurs are starting to try it because it looks to me like it's working (smiling).

Q. David mentioned that you guys right after you teed off on the playoff hole, you said to yourselves, "We've done this before." Can you share that?

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, it was pretty good. I think it was funny. More than anything, it was just to try to loosen up. You know, I wanted to loosen up myself and also David so we could play as well as we could.

You know, we were walking down the 18th hole. I said, "Well, it's amazing last two tournaments we played together, we've been in the playoff together." He's like, "Yeah. But, you know, last one, we didn't win." I'm like, "Don't worry, I think this time one of us is going to win." You know, we had a little laugh there. It was good.

Q. You were talking about the regripping and everything, all the little criticisms. The press does tend to pick out little things on everybody. Did that ever really bother you or were you able to just ignore it and say, "This is the way I play golf, I believe in myself"?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, as you can see, I still do it, so I did ignore it. I've always said it. And I feel I'm not going to hit a shot until I'm ready, if it takes me a hundred regrips, I'm going to take a hundred regrips, I don't care. But I like to be over the all thinking, "Okay, I'm ready to hit it." Then I'll go ahead and hit it.

But if I'm not ready, sometimes I've done it, I've hit it without being ready, and I've done it wrongly. You know, it's the way I play. I mean, you don't have to -- I don't -- I don't say to you guys, "You shouldn't grip the pen that way when you write. You shouldn't blink as many times as you do when you're on the computer." Everybody has their own way of doing things. I'm not going to tell you to do something that you don't like to. So try not to do the same thing to me.

Q. You played so much better since you at least publicly have come to terms with the waggle thing.

SERGIO GARCIA: I mean, to me, it doesn't bother. You can write as many things as you want about it.

Q. I'm thinking mentally, have you -- the whole mindset, "I'm not going to hit a shot until I'm ready"?

SERGIO GARCIA: Of course.

Q. That's been part of the success?

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, for sure. You know, I feel like sometimes I have shots that require a little more time than some others because they're key shots. That kind of shot can make you win a tournament. You don't want to rush it in that.

You know, I was listening to Gary McCord the other day saying, "It annoys me."

"Don't look. What can I tell you?" There's nothing I can do. I'm not going to tell him to put his moustache this way or this way. You know, if it annoys you, just look when you hear the click (smiling).

Q. Was there ever a time earlier in your life where you played golf really rapidly, just pulled a club and tried to hit a shot? Did you experiment with that at all? Was it successful?

SERGIO GARCIA: No. Well, I've always -- I've never just gone there and hit it. You know, I've always done two or three waggles. I didn't used to do as many regrips as I do now. But I've always done a couple at least. I don't know, it's just the way I feel comfortable. I mean, I think -- if I was playing bad, I probably would say, "Yeah, maybe it's not helping me."

I don't think it's helping me and I don't think it's hurting me, so...

Q. It's obviously helping you. What is the sensation? Are you looking for a feeling in your hand or in your head?

SERGIO GARCIA: More than anything, I'll say my head because sometimes you get bad thoughts on it. You go there, and without wanting to, you look at the trouble, and you say, "Gee. I want to get there. Don't think about it, just picture the shot you want, just do it, get ready, try to hit it the best you can."

Q. You mentioned you don't want to play a shot until you're ready. There have been other great players that had that philosophy. Do you remember a shot you played maybe too rapidly in your career that cost you?

SERGIO GARCIA: Probably today. Probably I have one today. I'll probably say that the shot I hit on 14 today, I probably rush it a little. For sure, it didn't do me any good.

You know, it all comes down to the pressure at that moment and everything. Sometimes, unfortunately, you rush it a little bit.

I'm happy the way I'm doing it, happy the way I'm hitting the ball more than anything.

Q. You haven't been bashful about saying that you want to win a major championship, you feel like your time is now, not later.

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, later I want to win more.

Q. Right. But would you consider this year a success if you won a couple of golf tournaments, if you had the same year as '01, a few wins but not a major, would that be a success?

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, it will be a good year. There's no doubt about that. Don't get me wrong. I think this tour is a great tour, and it's a difficult tour to win on. But I really feel like my game is getting to a point where I can win a major. I want to at least, even if I don't win any this year, at least I want to give myself three or four good chances at it, like I did last year. I gave myself a couple good chances of winning. I didn't win. But I just want to be able to put myself in that position again.

It's what you work for. I mean, today I was there, I was on 15 and 16, making those birdies. I'm thinking to myself, "Jesus, this is what you work for, this is what you're waiting for." It's such a thrill. It's like you grow, you grow up.

I missed it for four weeks, and I'm glad I got it back this week.

Q. David Toms said when you're playing, you seem to really have a good time.

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah.

Q. It's not work as much as it is play. Is that true?

SERGIO GARCIA: Yes, for sure. I've always said it. If you realize, when I don't have as much fun, I know that probably a couple years ago when I wasn't playing well, I probably took it too seriously. And that's why my game wasn't able to come out. Even last year when I wasn't playing well, I was still trying to have fun. You know, Glen has been great at that. Peter Jacobsen helped me two years ago, too, told me a couple things that really helped. But I think Glen has really been good. He knows what way I like to be to play good golf.

Even on the bad moments, he always tries to keep me there. He always tries to make me laugh. He always will make a little comment that, you know, will pump me up. Not even saying, "Come on, let's go." He say something that will get me angry, and it will make me, yeah, try harder.

It's funny because sometimes, you know, he will say like, "Okay, you have 240 a little into the wind. There's no way you're going to get there with a 2-iron."

I will get there and think, "What do you mean? I will get there. Jesus, he thinks I'm not going to get there, you'll see."

Those are the things that I like, challenging things. He's able to do that with me.

Q. Were you always like this, like when you were seven or eight years old, did you always want to do things and beat other people? Is this something you didn't get into until you were a teenager?

SERGIO GARCIA: You mean me?

Q. Yes.

SERGIO GARCIA: No. I've always been very competitive, very competitive. You know, I remember early in my amateur career when I was younger than 14 years old, you know, at the Spanish championships, under 14, I had this guy who always beat me. He will always beat me only at this tournament. It was the biggest tournament for us at that age for Spain. His name was Carlos. I don't know how he will do it. He will always beat me. I'll be so -- I mean, I'll be so angry. You know, I cried a lot of times because of that. I'd be leading by five, nine holes to play, he'll shoot a good round, throw it off. He always beat me one or two shots. He probably beat me at least four or five tournaments of those. I won one, but I probably should have won at least three of them. I don't know how he will do it. He will always do it on the same tournament to me. It really got me pretty angry.

Q. Where is Carlos now?

SERGIO GARCIA: He's still playing.

Q. Is he a golfer?

SERGIO GARCIA: Yes. He's studying more than anything. But he's playing pretty well.

Q. What is his last name?

SERGIO GARCIA: Del Corral.

Q. Did you get up this morning and see the conditions, know the leaderboard, think of a number that you needed to shoot to win?

SERGIO GARCIA: No, I actually didn't. Well, when I saw the way the wind was blowing, how little it was blowing on the first couple of holes. I thought, "Jesus, probably going to be 19 under." I thought that either Kenny Perry or Scott Verplank or Chris or Toms, they were going to be able to get it to at least 18 under or 19 under. So 19 was what I had pictured in my mind. You know, that bogey on 14 got my plans a little messed up.

Q. Who gets the car?

SERGIO GARCIA: Me. But, yeah, I actually was looking forward to win that car because I think it's a great car, it's the kind of car I like. My caddie, I have an old Mercedes at home, SLK 320. I'm going to give that one to my caddie and I'm going to keep this one.

Q. Your swing looks good, looks tighter than it was last year. Can you talk about where it's been and what you're working on, where it's going?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I've always been working with my dad on the backswing. Follow-through has always been a big key of myself. But the backswing -- because if the backswing is not where you want it to be, it's difficult to get through well.

Backswing has always been one of the key things we've been working on.

End of FastScripts....

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