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February 25, 2014

Sergio Garcia


DOUG MILNE:  Sergio Garcia, thanks for joining us for a few minutes here at the 2014 Honda Classic, making your fourth start, I believe, in the Honda Classic and first since 2010.  With that being said, just some comments on being back here at PGA National.
SERGIO GARCIA:  Yeah, excited about it.  Great golf course, obviously unfortunately I haven't been able to fit it in the schedule, but I think it's definitely one of the most sought‑after golf courses we play all year, and it's good to be back.  Hoping to play well, keep kind of doing things right.  Like I've been doing lately, and see if we can have another good week and kind of keep building on it.

Q.  Last time you played, the names out there weren't as big as the ones we see out here.  Is that part of your reason for committing this time, there's a lot of big names here playing, almost feels like a mini‑major in a way?
SERGIO GARCIA:  No, not really.  I mean, I didn't know who was going to play or not, but obviously I like the tournament itself, I like the golf course, and it fit beautifully into my schedule this year.  You know, I thought it was a good opportunity to come back and play a little bit.  I guess it's a bonus to be able to enter such a strong field this week on a wonderful golf course.  That's great.

Q.  You must be feeling very confident coming in.
SERGIO GARCIA:  Yeah, it feels good.  I felt like I started the year nicely, played quite well last week, too, and you know, just like I said before, just hoping to keep building on that, building on that momentum.  We have another couple of really good weeks with this week and next week at Doral and then a little bit of a break.  It would be nice to kind of keep building on that beautiful start I had on the European Tour, and hopefully I can do something similar here on the U.S. Tour.

Q.  A lot was talked about last week with the concession with you and Rickie.  Just wondering what the reaction has been like for you the last four or five days, and when you look back on it are you surprised by all the reaction?
SERGIO GARCIA:  The reaction on which aspect do you mean?

Q.  Giving the putt.
SERGIO GARCIA:  No, I think‑‑ I mean, like I said there, I felt like if I would have taken just one drop on 6 because of the bees, I would have been fine with it, but I took one and then I took another one because I still didn't feel comfortable, and I just felt like I probably‑‑ it's as simple as that.  I feel like I took too much time.  I don't care if some people think it was wrong or right.  For me it was the right thing to do.  If not, I would have been thinking about it throughout the whole match and probably throughout the whole week, and it's what I felt it was right to do.
Like I said there, this is the way my dad taught me to play the game of golf.  I think that winning is important, but playing the game the right way, it's even more important for me.  I tried to beat Rickie as hard as I could, and unfortunately he just played awesome the last 10 holes.  I feel good about what I did because it's what I felt it was right to do, and that's pretty much the only guy I need to please on that aspect.

Q.  This question came up a lot.  Do you think you would have done it in a similar situation at the Ryder Cup when you have 11 other teammates to answer to?
SERGIO GARCIA:  Well, it depends on the situation.  It depends on if I would have felt it was the right thing to do, if I would have felt like I went out of my way to‑‑ or too much time or something.  Yeah, I probably would have done it, too.  You shouldn't change because it's the Match Play, the Accenture Match Play or the Ryder Cup.  I think at the end of the day, we all have a great opportunity to be role models to a lot of guys, a lot of kids and a lot of people, and you should be like that every time you have a chance.  That's the way of golf.  It's always been played, and that's the way it should be.  That's why I felt it was right at that time.  That's pretty much all I can say.

Q.  Is there anything you can point to for your improved play or good play this year?
SERGIO GARCIA:  Well, I think it's been‑‑ I think it's been very good the last three years I would say.  I think the last year, last year I felt very, very good with my game, obviously played very consistently throughout the whole year, had good opportunities of winning.  Obviously didn't win until Thailand.  But no, I think it's just work, hard work, keep improving on it.  Obviously I've been working on every aspect of the game.  I feel like my chipping is better.  I feel like my putting is still doing quite good, and the long game feels as good as it's usually been.
It's just hard work and confidence in yourself, obviously feeling good, happy and enjoying what I do.

Q.  Would you say that the reason that you're playing so well recently is because you're just so much happier off the golf course?  It's a tough game at the best of times, but when things aren't great off the course it can be all the tougher as we saw with Rory who had a lot of stuff going on last year, for example?
SERGIO GARCIA:  Yeah, definitely.  Obviously we've seen it with everybody.  I think that when things off the golf course are going well and everything, it's calm and where I want it to be more or less, it's obviously easier to go on the course and think about what you want to do on the course.  Obviously if you're struggling a little bit outside, there's a lot more things going in your head.
Yeah, that definitely helps, but you still have to go out there and play well and perform.  Obviously it wasn't as simple as that, but obviously it's something extra that does help kind of improve your mentality and the way you play.

Q.  Since the Honda came to PGA National, the winners have ranged from guys like Ernie Els and Rory McIlroy to guys people don't know like Michael Thompson.  Is there something about this course that makes it wide open as far as winners go?
SERGIO GARCIA:  Well, like I said before, I think it's a very solid golf course.  It's the kind of tournament that if you're on, it can put quite a bit of difference between players because if you're a little bit off your game, there's so many holes out there that you can struggle to make par or even bogey.  But if you're on, you still have good chances of making birdie.
I think that's probably a thing.  If you feel like you're right on, you hit a lot of fairways, a lot of greens, you can make a fairly good amount of birdies, but there's obviously a lot of danger lurking around in a lot of those holes if you're not hitting the ball well.

Q.  Expanding on that, would you mind talking about the Bear Trap and your thoughts on the three‑hole Bear Trap?
SERGIO GARCIA:  Yeah, well, 15, 16, 17, very challenging golf holes, all of them.  But like I said before, if you feel good, you're hitting maybe 8‑, 7‑, 6‑iron on 15.  It can be a little bit tricky.  It also depends on the wind a little bit.  If it calm, it's a little bit easier to kind of manage around it.  But if it gets a little breezy, there's some tense shots out there.
And then obviously 16 you need to hit that fairway to be able to somehow attack that‑‑ some of those pins on a tough green with usually a fairly long club.
And then 17, it's also a very solid par‑3, which playing into the wind you can hit up to a 5 or a 4‑iron.  If it plays downwind from the front tees you can hit maybe a 7‑iron, maybe an 8.
But like I said before, it's the kind of holes that if you're on and you hit three good shots and make one birdie and two pars or even two birdies, you're making a lot of ground.  But being just a little bit off, you can make‑‑ without hitting terrible shots you can make a double, a par and a bogey, and you leave those holes shooting 3‑over and maybe don't feel like you hit that bad a shots.
But it's just a very thin line between playing them really, really well and maybe not so much.

Q.  In a tournament that doesn't have a pro‑am, how much importance do you place in playing a practice round on the tournament, because I think at Augusta you were the last one to sign in last year, and then you shot 66.  I wonder did you play a practice round?
SERGIO GARCIA:  Yeah, I did.  I did, yeah.  I did on‑‑ I think I played nine on Tuesday and nine on Wednesday.  I usually try‑‑ if there's not a pro‑am, I usually try to play maybe 18 holes just before, just to get a feel for the course.

Q.  Do you ever go up early to Augusta?
SERGIO GARCIA:  No.  No.  I did it in the past, but quite a long ways back.  No, I just‑‑ I think it's nice to see it, but it's never going to be playing as close as the tournament, as it's going to be playing in the tournament.  The course can change so much from‑‑ it can change so much from Wednesday afternoon to Thursday, so imagine from three weeks before to tournament play.

Q.  Is there another major that ever changes Wednesday to Thursday like Augusta?
SERGIO GARCIA:  No, I don't think so.  Well, with good weather, I don't think so.  No, I don't think so because usually British Open, if it's firm, it's already firm on Wednesday.  It might get a little bit firmer but not that much.
U.S. Open, unless you go to a golf course where you know they have the air pumps on the green, it's difficult to make it change as much as you can at Augusta with all the technology they have on the golf course.

Q.  Say when you were 20 years old, have there ever been times when you went into a major wanting it too badly and it got in your way?
SERGIO GARCIA:  For sure, I think there's no doubt.  I think anybody will tell you that.  There's times where you put everything and you work your whole maybe two or three months into that one tournament, and then for whatever reason you get there and you don't play as well, you don't feel‑‑ you have one of those weeks where you don't feel comfortable and you don't perform as well as you want, and it is quite a bit of a downer.
I try to be as ready as possible to every single tournament I play, and then just hope that that week I got things going, I feel good, I feel comfortable with myself, I feel nice and at ease and I can perform to my highest level.  If I don't, then I try to work with what I have and see where that gets me.

Q.  What's your schedule going into Augusta, and is it something that's changed over the years?  Have you tried to look for the right magic formula, if you will, to make sure your game is prepared?
SERGIO GARCIA:  Yeah, I'm not sure there's a right formula to it.  I think I was talking to Billy Haas last week about it, and you know, it's funny, I've done well in majors without playing the week before, I've done well in majors playing the week before.  I've done well in majors playing two weeks back‑to‑back coming into the majors.  It's difficult to know exactly what is the best thing.
I think at the end of the day, it just comes down to that week, how you feel that week.  If you play maybe one or two weeks before and you play well, it feels nice, because you come in with a little bit of momentum.  Sometimes it's nice to go there fresh without playing before and kind of feel it as the week goes on.
I don't think there's a real secret to that.  Talking about the schedule, well, I'll obviously play this week and next week, then I'm probably going to take a couple weeks off and most likely going to play San Antonio and Houston and the Masters, if nothing changes.
DOUG MILNE:  Sergio, best of luck this week.  Thanks for your time.

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