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June 14, 2005

Sergio Garcia


RAND JERRIS: It's a pleasure to welcome Sergio Garcia to the interview area. Sergio has played in the U.S. Open on five previous occasions, including a 4th place finish in 2002 at Bethpage.

Sergio, you're coming off a win at Congressional last week. First of all, congratulations.


RAND JERRIS: You've proven now that you can win on a U.S. Open golf course under very difficult conditions. Talk a little bit about Pinehurst and its relation to Congressional, and other U.S. Open golf courses you've played.

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, Pinehurst is a great golf course, really difficult. I had the pleasure of playing it today. Very tough. You know, it's set up quite tough, fairways are quite narrow, tough to hit. The rough is quite thick, and we know the greens. They're pretty firm at the moment and all the run offs and things like that, so it's kind of difficult.

Probably the thing I'm most worried about is the bunkers. So much sand on them, you're going to get so many plugged lies, and coming into these greens from a plugged lie around the greens is going to be almost impossible. It's something to worry about, and it's unfortunate that the bunkers are in that shape because they don't need to be that soft, but other than that, I think the course is looking really nice.

RAND JERRIS: Obviously there's a certain emotional high that comes when you're coming off a victory like last weekend. How do you prepare yourself emotionally or mentally?

SERGIO GARCIA: Not really, you're still trying to go out there this week and perform and put yourself in a good position to try to win the U.S. Open. But you just know that you had your win already and you're looking forward to getting many more, but the first one is there.

I think for me it's going to be an interesting week. It's going to be difficult, going to be very tough. The weather seems like it's going to be getting a bit better as the week goes on, not as hot, but the course is going to be playing very tough. It's going to be playing firm, and it'll be interesting to see this course going around these next couple of days.

Q. It's apparently been very rare that somebody would win the U.S. Open after having won on Tour the year before. Are you in any way superstitious about that piece of history?

SERGIO GARCIA: No. I think I take it differently. I have a chance of doing it twice, and I haven't been able. I've been close, but now I have another chance. So I'm looking forward, hopefully we can make it third time lucky. That's the only thing I can think of. It's one of those things that something happened, but I don't give it more credit than it deserves.

Q. Is there something about the course makeup or the setup for a U.S. Open that does not favor a European golfer?

SERGIO GARCIA: This week or just the U.S. Open

Q. This week or in general.

SERGIO GARCIA: I don't know. I don't think so. I think that it favors whoever is hitting the ball straight and fairly long because you don't want to be coming into some of these greens with 3 or 4 irons. It's tough enough to hit these greens with a 9 or an 8 iron, so you can only imagine how tough it is with a long iron.

I don't think so. It's just one of those things that has just happened. Hopefully we can break that record this week.

Q. You made your PGA TOUR affiliated debut in this country and in this state up in Greensboro in '98 in the Nike event and almost won it. What do you recall about that tournament and did it benefit you at all to come so close to quickly?

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, it was exciting. I remember that I had a great week. There was a point where I was pretty close from the lead, and I ended up finishing 2nd. I don't know, I guess it was a different kind of tournament. I was really young, I was still an amateur, and I was just enjoying the moment there. I actually came off a missed cut in Cleveland the week before.

I was really enjoying that time and I was fortunate enough to play well and get some experience on my side. I think it definitely helped.

But the thing that helped the most was when I turned pro and I started playing here and to do well like I did in Dallas and those kind of tournaments. I'm happy about the way I played in Greensboro, I don't know how many years ago, like eight years ago or something like that. But we'll see how we do this week.

Q. Johnny Miller on NBC will be analyzing you and a lot of other players this weekend. I'm just wondering what you think of the job that he does as an analyst, good, bad, fair, unfair?

SERGIO GARCIA: I really don't know much because most of the times I'm playing when he's analyzing, so I don't get to see it. But I'm sure he does his best. I'm sure there's times where he's probably unbelievable and sometimes where maybe he says some things that some people might not like. I think he's trying his best and that's all you can ask.

Q. I don't have your European record in front of me, but your six wins on the Tour, six, seven, eight Top 10s in the majors, I wonder if you could look back when you turned pro in May of '99 to where you are now, would you have expected this much? Would you have expected more? In other words, are you about where you thought you'd be, not quite as far or ahead?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, it's tough. I mean, when you come out, of course, you never know how it's going to go. You always expect the best and you expect you're going to do well. I mean, I'm not going to lie to you, as soon as I turned pro in '99 my goal was to keep my card in Europe, and if you could in America, it would be great. I managed to do that and win a couple tournaments.

And from then on, after winning a couple tournaments I was hoping it was going to keep going that way. If I would have been sitting down there in '99 and you would have come to me and said, okay, in six or seven years, six and a half years' time, you're going to accomplish this, I would have been happy. Of course, I would have been thrilled to be 6th player in the world and playing quite well, winning tournaments all over the world. It's exciting. Of course I would like to win a major by now, but it's not something that bothers me. So I definitely would have been very happy with the way it's been if you would have told me six years ago. It's just a matter of keep getting better and keep improving on that.

Q. Retief Goosen has won the Open twice and obviously the defending champion. What do you think about his game and his temperament that makes him such a good player in the U.S. Open?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I think he's a great player anywhere. But he's just so easy going. He just goes around the course like nothing happens, and he doesn't I don't know if he gets angry sometimes or not when he makes a bogey or things like that, but he doesn't seem like he gets angry. That's always important, to not let the bogeys get to you and realize that, you know, even more in this kind of tournament, it's really long and you never know what's going to happen down the stretch.

I think that's what I've been trying to do lately. I've been trying to take it a lot easier. For example, last week I was 3 over through 4 on the first round, and thanks to that, thanks to just keeping patient and not worrying about playing badly, I managed to come back and actually ended up winning the tournament.

I think you can always learn from those kind of things, and hopefully I'll be able to be good this week and see if we can get it the right way.

Q. Phil just said before you came in that he thought the scores might be or could be quite high compared to '99 and that the green conditions could be very difficult, maybe a lot like No. 7 last year. Is it possible to get hot on this golf course like you got hot on the front nine last Sunday?

SERGIO GARCIA: You mean that kind of hot? It's definitely easy to get hot, the other hot.

I don't think so. I mean, to go out there and be able to shoot maybe 4 or 5 under in one nine, I mean, it needs to start raining right now, that's to start with. And even like that, it's going to be difficult.

You're hitting 4 or 5 irons to some of these greens, and I'm telling you, it's tough to hit some of these greens with a 9 iron, so don't even imagine with a 3 or 4 iron.

But you expect these things. It's the U.S. Open. It's not supposed to be easy, but I'm sure that the USGA are going to do a good job and they're still going to keep it fair. They're going to make it tough, as it always is, but they're not going to make it ridiculously tough.

Q. Knowing what you know about your competitors and this golf course, if you weren't in it or you couldn't pick yourself, who would you like this weekend?

SERGIO GARCIA: I don't know. It's a tough pick. I don't know, I guess probably somebody like I want to say somebody like maybe Tiger because he's really good around the greens. But you still have to hit a lot of fairways because you're not going to be able to muscle the ball through this rough as easy as maybe it is in some other tournaments. If he doesn't have his game off the tee, he's going to maybe have a bit of a struggle. Somebody like Retief or Ernie, just good players that can get the ball up and down around the greens, even on tough shots. Even more, just a solid putter. So guys like those, Phil, Vijay, it's always going to be that little group up there, and then you always get somebody else. But I think Adam is playing really well, too, so you've got to look for a lot of guys right there.

Q. A few weeks ago at the Wachovia Championship in Charlotte you didn't have your best final round. How much does coming back to Carolina does that weigh on your mind when you come back here, and how nice was finishing last weekend I guess exorcise that demon?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, first of all, I didn't think I played that badly at the last round of Wachovia. I probably shot the highest score I could shoot, and that was 72, and I would have loved to have shot 71, that would have been enough. That was the highest I could shoot if you look at the way I played. I don't think you guys gave enough credit to Vijay and Jim for the two rounds they put together on that Sunday because that course was not playing easy. So that's to start with.

Second of all, I don't think it's going to bother me at all. I love playing here in the Carolinas. I've done fairly well throughout my career here, so I'm really looking forward to it, and I'm not worried about it. Hopefully I can keep the round going like I did last week.

Q. I'd just like for you to expand on this if you could. Talking about the majors, you said that you would love to have one now but it's not something that really bothers you. When you say that, is that like a matter of priorities?

SERGIO GARCIA: At the moment, yeah. What I mean is that sometimes I get into the media center and they're like, "Oh, you haven't won a major yet," and stuff. I know, and I've always said I would love to, and I've had my chances, I definitely did, but it's not something that bothers me that much at the moment. You know, I know that I still have a lot of chances. Fortunately I'm only 25, so if injuries and everything go right, I should have a lot of chances of winning a major in the next in the near future. That's pretty much what I wanted to say.

Q. These greens are very different from most of the greens that you play. As a player who has a lot of imagination around the greens, take away the bunkers that you don't like, is this a course that you were looking forward to that was a challenge?

SERGIO GARCIA: I was, yeah. I definitely was. I heard good things about it, and I got the chance to have seen it today, and it's a course that around the greens, as you say, you have to have a lot of imagination, and you have to commit to a lot of those shots that you can see in your head because it's all about committing. If you see one shot but you doubt it a little bit then you're not going to be able to pull it off. Every shot around the greens has to be executed so perfectly. I'm looking forward to that challenge and seeing how I can handle it.

Q. Two years ago at Colonial Annika played a practice round with you. Are you guys pals, and what do you think of what she's doing?

SERGIO GARCIA: Oh, she's unbelievable. She's playing some amazing golf and I'm really happy for her. Yeah, we know each other and we live close to each other in Lake Nona, so we do see each other once in a while and we've played a couple of tennis matches and stuff like that. I'm really happy for her, and I hope she keeps it going.

Q. Two parter, I wanted to follow up real quick on something you said a minute ago. After Phil won last year, there are some people who are looking for the best player never would have won a major and your name came up, which sounded kind of silly because you were so young, but I wonder when you hear that, do you sense that people are putting pressure on you, or do you take that as a compliment?

SERGIO GARCIA: No, I really take it as a compliment. I take the good part of it. I mean, if you're telling me the best player never to have won a major, it means that they consider me a good player I know what I can do. It's always nice to be recognized. But as I said, I've just got to wait for it, just got to give it time. Sometimes the harder you try to force it and to make it happen, the harder it is. I've just got to let it happen. I know that I can play well enough, I know that I can do it, I've just got to go out there and do it.

Q. Have you ever found yourself in the four or five years you've been playing the majors forcing it, trying to push it too much in a major?

SERGIO GARCIA: Definitely, yeah. I've probably the last maybe couple of years, I maybe tried a bit too hard, putting so much pressure and expecting to do well and have a chance of winning. I know if I go out there and play my own game, I know I'm going to have a chance because I've showed it. I've showed that I've got good enough game to be out there and have a chance of winning majors and all kind of tournaments, and it's just a matter of just relaxing and letting it go.

RAND JERRIS: Sergio, thanks very much for your time this afternoon. We wish you well this week.

End of FastScripts.

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