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September 27, 2008
STEWART MOORE: We'd like to welcome our 54-hole leader here at THE TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola, Sergio Garcia, to the interview room after a great third-round 67 out there. Really made up some ground. You've got a nice comfortable lead going into tomorrow and the golf course is playing extremely difficult, namely the greens, but really, birdieing two of your last four holes today certainly has to leave a good taste in your mouth.
SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, it was a good, solid day all day long. I felt like I played solid. Obviously I would have loved to have got off to a great start because I hit a lot of good shots early on.
I hit it quite close, and unfortunately the putts didn't want to drop. But fortunately for me a couple of them dropped later on in the round.
Any time you shoot under par on this course you're not losing ground, so I'm very pleased with that.
STEWART MOORE: You're fifth in fairways hit, second in greens in regulation, third in putts. There's really not a weakness so far after 54 holes, is there?
SERGIO GARCIA: Perfect. We'll try to keep it like that tomorrow (laughter.)
Q. Just curious what it was like early on when he was making some crazy putts, especially the one on 4. Four holes in a row and you're in good position and some of them are medium length, but then you get to 4 and he's completely dead and still walks away with par.
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, that's the way the game is. I can only control what I do. I felt like I played the first hole very well. I felt like I hit a great putt. Obviously I thought it was a little quicker than that, and it just kind of died in front of the hole.
Then on 2, I hit a great tee shot, just a little left, caught the slope, and hit a great putt and a big lip-out.
Third hole, I hit two good shots and a very good putt, and unfortunately just missed on the left side.
On the fourth hole, if I hit it five feet farther with my second shot I'd probably have it to give.
So there were positive holes for me even though I didn't make any birdies. There's no doubt he got off to a good start with his putter, made some good putts early on and kind of went in front of me, but I was just staying patient.
I knew that my game was in good shape. I felt like I was hitting good putts, and I knew it was just a matter of time until a couple of them went in. So it was good to see the ones on 7 and 8 go in.
Q. Could you talk about the par on 8?
SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah. I didn't hit -- funny enough, I didn't hit a bad drive. I thought it was a little bit into the wind. I obviously wanted to hit it probably maybe five or six yards left of that, but I thought it was pretty similar line as AK's. I thought it might catch a little bit of the fairway, but it went through it.
And then from there I had no shot. I was just trying to hit it in the front bunker, get up-and-down. I knew the front bunker wasn't a bad spot. I thought, I'll just hit a little punchy 5-iron. If I get lucky and it runs through the bunker it's perfect. If not, I'll have a good chance there.
I thought I hit a perfect shot, and when it came out, I thought, This is perfect, and it might have a good chance of getting to the green. Unfortunately it was just short and just over, and it's probably the only spot I didn't want to be.
But I managed to hit a good shot from there that went probably about nine or ten feet, probably nine feet by, and then a really nice stroke there. That par was big, and then it kind of helped me make my birdie on the next.
Q. Anthony's drive on the 9th hole clipped that guy in the head pretty badly, about as bad as some of us have seen in a long time. I know you got a photographer last year at Carnoustie who didn't see it coming. When you hit somebody like that does it affect you for a while? Have you ever had an instance in your younger years when maybe you couldn't get it out of your head?
SERGIO GARCIA: It does a little bit. It all depends what happens to the guy. Obviously if he just gets a cut -- he got a pretty big cut I heard, but he was conscious. Looked like he was okay, was just going to be a nice big scar that he could tell his friends about (laughter.)
But it doesn't help. It obviously doesn't help. It's such a -- it just gets a bad feeling in your stomach. You try to forget it, but it always takes you maybe 10 or 15 minutes to kind of forget about it.
I think it's worse when you see the guy down and you can see that he's down. If at least you can see the guy and you talk to him and you see that he's okay you feel a little better. Not great, but you feel a little better.
Q. You're obviously firing on all cylinders this week. What's been the difference between this week and last week? Are you feeling better physically? Has something clicked with your swing? Can you explain it?
SERGIO GARCIA: No. To tell you the truth, I felt pretty good with my swing last week. I felt like I hit a lot of good shots. Even on Sunday I felt like I hit good shots against AK.
Unfortunately a couple mishaps here and there on 7, and then a couple putts that if I would have made them they could have turned my round around. The putt on 6 for par, the putt on 8 for birdie, the little short putt on 11. So unfortunately that kind of put me behind the 8-ball with a lot of pressure, and he was playing really well.
This week I just feel pretty much as comfortable as I felt last week, probably a little bit more relaxed, and I'm just playing much better. I got a little bit of work done with Stan on Wednesday, trying to kind of speed up the routine a little bit and make sure that I don't get too focused on what I want to do when I putt.
It's definitely been much better. You know, it's going to free up my stroke a little bit, and I've been rolling it well. I feel comfortable on these greens anyway, so that obviously helps a little bit, too.
Q. One other thing if I could...
SERGIO GARCIA: No, you can't (laughter).
Q. I don't know if you're aware that Nick has come in for some severe criticism in the British press this week. Do you feel bad for him in that he wasn't the one hitting the shots? People say the captain can't do really do all that much once you get out there.
SERGIO GARCIA: I've said that before. I think it's horrendous. But unfortunately it happens not only in golf, it happens -- fortunately it happens only once every two years in golf, but it happens in football back at home. When a team loses it's always the coach's fault. They never pick on the players like they should or give enough credit to the other team like they should.
I think last week the European team didn't play badly, they just got outplayed by the American team. If you look at the amount of -- on Sunday there were two 29s on the front nine. I mean, that happens, what, probably four or five times -- four times a year, and on Sunday there were two 29s on the same day on the same round. I mean, that's amazing.
I think that's what people should focus about, not if Nick did that or Nick didn't do that. I said it there, and I'll stick to my statement. It's not his fault. He did the best that he could do as a captain, and then it comes down to us. If the guys we play against play better than us there's nothing he can do.
Q. Just curious, how would you view your season to this point, and how would a win tomorrow change your whole perspective of your 2008 season?
SERGIO GARCIA: It wouldn't change it at all. I think it's going to be a very solid season. Obviously I feel like I played well enough to maybe win a couple times more than I have this year, but I think it's been a very solid season.
I think there's a lot of positives coming out of this year with the work we've done in the short game with Stan and my dad, and obviously my swing keeps getting better and better.
I feel like not only as a player but as a person I'm maturing, I'm getting to know myself better, and it's making me feel a lot more comfortable on the course. I think it's been a great year, and I've just got to -- I'm not done, so I've got to keep playing well and hopefully try to win as many as I can.
Q. Would this be a nice icing on the cake though, $4.3 million?
SERGIO GARCIA: No, not because of that, because of winning itself is great. This is what we practice for and this is what we do all those hard hours for. Any time you win it makes you feel a little bit better, so it would definitely be nice.
Q. What kind of motivation did you go out with today? Was it kind of revenge to Anthony Kim?
SERGIO GARCIA: Not at all. Not at all. Anthony is a friend of mine. We get along great. You know, we're both trying to do the best we can out there. I was trying to do the best I could, and he was trying to do the best he could.
Unfortunately he didn't have his "A" game today, but we're both friends. Whatever happens in one week is not going to change anything around us. That's the way it is.
Q. Anthony was in here earlier sort of lamenting how poorly he's hitting his driver. I'm wondering, from your perspective, did he do well to shoot what he shot? He seemed to like a lot of putts and get up-and-down a bunch despite his struggles.
SERGIO GARCIA: Funny enough, I felt all day that he was doing very well to shoot what he was going to shoot. And then unfortunately he three-putted 14 and then three-putted 15 from the edge of the green and bogeyed 16.
You know, I still feel like the way this course was playing and the way he was hitting the ball he still scrambled nicely.
But obviously when you're 7-under with five holes to go and you finish 5-under it's never great. But I definitely feel like he got a lot out of his round early on, and then he kind of lost a lot towards the end.
Q. I'm wondering, do you recall playing with Phil in the final group at a tournament anywhere along the way? If so, I can't think of it. And beyond that, just your thoughts on playing with him. You guys are obviously going to be a pretty big draw out there for the fans.
SERGIO GARCIA: I've definitely played with him in the last round.
Q. Last group.
SERGIO GARCIA: I'm not sure about that, no. I want to say I have, but I couldn't put my finger on it. No, I don't know. I think it's going to be great. We're both going to try to play hard, and I'm going to try to do my thing and make sure that hopefully it's enough.
He's going to try to do his thing, but he's not the only guy I'm worried about.
Q. Could you talk about those last two birdies, if you think they might be significant since it gave you a little bit of an edge? And secondly, maybe just run through the birdie at 15, that bunker shot. How difficult was it?
SERGIO GARCIA: 15, bunker shot?
Q. I'm sorry, the par 5.
SERGIO GARCIA: Bunker shot was on 14.
Q. I'm sorry.
SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, I made a good up-and-down on 14 from the bunker.
Then 15, I thought I hit a great tee shot with a 3-wood. Trying to hit 3-wood so we don't run out, and I just killed it. Unfortunately it just carried the slope and it went just in the rough, got quite a bad lie. I tried to hit like a low hooking 6-iron. Tried to hit it somewhere around the front, front left side of the green, and came out a little bit softer than we expected.
And then I probably must have had probably about 50 yards or so, 55 yards, to the hole. I hit a great third shot with my lob wedge to about three feet, three and a half feet, and made that. That was a nice birdie there.
And then 17, I hit a good tee shot down there, a low little fade with a driver there. I hit a nice 8-iron, pushed it just slightly with my second shot. But I hit a nice 8-iron from 173 and then made a nice probably 12-footer down the hill.
Q. Two things: One, just curious, did you offer to move your mark on 1, or you didn't want to move and he hit it anyway? How did that go?
SERGIO GARCIA: It was funny because he hit my coin three times today. It was funny on the first because we were both looking at our putts, and I kind of looked at him and said, "Do you need me to move that?" He gave me one of those, like, I mean, "I don't need to hit it that far left." (Laughter.)
And he actually hit the left side of the coin. He hit it over the left side of my coin and hit a great putt and just missed on the right side. I kind of gave him one of those, "It's a good thing it wasn't in your way."
And then he just clipped the coin, I think, on 5, but just because he missed it low. It wasn't in his line.
And then he clipped the coin again on 14 on his first putt, so it was one of those funny things that happens, I guess.
Q. If you go back to '99, you became somewhat of a star in one year, from the Nelson, from Medinah, the Ryder Cup and winning twice in Europe, et cetera. Being young and then with so much kind of celebrity thrust on you, was it difficult to not get too caught up in how much people were paying attention to you and still stick to the work you had to do as a golfer? Could it have been easy to fall into that trap I guess is what I'm getting at?
SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, I think the most important thing -- when that happens, the most important thing is your parents. I've always said that I'm so fortunate to have the parents I have. They've always kept me in the right track. You know, it's just nice to see.
If you're brought up the right way you know how to handle things, kind of like you can see it on Tiger better than anyone else. I think, like I said before, I've just been very fortunate with the parents I have, my brother, my sister, and obviously my friends. I'm surrounded by a great group of people, and that makes things so much easier.
Q. It looked like you were driving it pretty much right where you were looking. Are you driving it as well or better than you were at THE PLAYERS Championship?
SERGIO GARCIA: No, I'm driving it worse. I had a couple of drives here and there that I would have liked to hit better, and then a couple of drives that felt good but unfortunately went in the rough, like 14 and 15. And 9, I hit a good drive there, too, and it just reason through the fairway.
I'm driving it well, but I drove the ball so well at the TPC. It's hard to drive it like I did there.
Q. There is still work to be done tomorrow. What would a victory at THE TOUR Championship mean to you given that you won THE PLAYERS Championship earlier this season?
SERGIO GARCIA: Like the gentleman asked me before, it would be great. It doesn't mean that if I don't win tomorrow it's going to be a disappointing year. It's not going to turn into that. But there's no doubt that for me to hopefully go out there tomorrow, play my game and play well, believe in myself and win THE TOUR Championship, it would be a great year.
And the most important thing is we're moving in the right direction. Like I said before, it's been a very positive year. Even though I lost the PGA and even though Vijay beat me at the Barclays and I had a couple other close calls, it's been a great year. I'm just looking forward to keep going in the same direction.
Q. Have you ever heard of Jodie Mudd? Have you ever heard of him?
SERGIO GARCIA: Jodie Mudd? No. Who the hell is that?
Q. He was the last guy to win THE PLAYERS and THE TOUR Championship in the same year.
SERGIO GARCIA: Sorry, Jodie.
End of FastScripts