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July 15, 2009
MALCOLM BOOTH: We're joined by Sergio Garcia. Sergio, thanks for coming and joining us.
This is a championship in which you've often performed very well, but obviously 2007 you didn't quite go over the line. How do you see your chances of turning in a good performance, and what are your expectations for this week?
SERGIO GARCIA: I'm looking forward to it. This is my favourite championship. I've always loved everything about it, not only the courses and everything, but the people and how well they've treated me throughout my career here. I'm very thrilled. I'm looking forward to it.
I had a very nice week of practise last week and a nice practise round yesterday. So I'm looking forward to the challenges and hopefully get going and see what we can go better than a couple of years ago.
Q. I'm not for one moment suggesting you'll only ever win one major. But if you were only going to win one major and you had a choice, which one would it be and where would it be?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, no doubt about this one. I've always said it. If, hopefully not, but if I could only choose one, I'll definitely choose The Open Championship.
Where? Obviously St. Andrews would be nice. But any of these courses are great to me. So that would be one of them.
Q. I know you like playing this style of course. Do you think that sometimes in the other majors maybe it can be a little bit of a putting contest; out here it seems to be a ball-strikers's golf course. Do you feel that plays more into your strengths?
SERGIO GARCIA: I wouldn't go that far. I think that the U.S. Open is not a putting contest. You have to hit the ball well. You have to drive it well. So I think that usually here at the Open, windy conditions, I've always enjoyed playing in the wind. I feel like when the courses get tough like that, yeah, you can depend a little bit more on your ball-striking abilities.
But anyway, I've putted well at this championship, too, and I've had my chances. So I think it's just a combination of the way the courses set up and how much I love playing this event.
Q. You've clearly got the ability to win majors; you've proved in the past you can challenge. When you see someone like Lucas Glover win, who a lot of people have probably never heard of, does you've frustrate you that you've proved over a long period of time you can challenge and he just turns up and wins one and everybody goes, "Who is he?"
SERGIO GARCIA: No, not at all. I think Lucas is a wonderful player. He's a very, very consistent player. He hasn't won as much as maybe he should have done, but it's not that easy out there. I think we all -- I said it before -- we all have, early on, we all have a chance of winning a major.
I had a couple. It's just a matter of seeing if it happens at that time and who you go against. Unfortunately my chance in '99 was against the best player in the world and I came up a little short. But I'm still working hard to try to get that first major and keep going from there. So that's the goal.
Q. Have you played much on this golf course? And if I could, could you give us your thoughts on the course?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I played '96 for the first time here at the British Amateur. And then about a month and a half ago, just the week of the European Open at the London Club we came to do a Taylor Made day and we played here. We played a practise round, and I played yesterday.
The course is looking great. It's look very, very nice, thick rough, big premium on driving the ball well this week. If you can manage to do that then the course is not too tough from there, if you manage to hit a lot of fairways.
But still, with a little bit of wind, there's still some long holes out there that you have to be careful with.
Q. How many drivers do you think that you will use? I know the wind will make --
SERGIO GARCIA: I'm only going to be carrying one (laughter).
Q. I'm thinking of the bunkers and whether you'll --
SERGIO GARCIA: It depends. It depends on the wind. I think, for example, yesterday I hit quite a lot of drives. I was quite aggressive at the tee because a lot of the holes were downwind. Some of the holes were downwind, I could get past the bunkers. So I probably hit -- I probably hit like, probably, I want to say about eight drives or something like that. But it depends.
If the wind changes your strategy might be different because you're not carrying some of the bunkers and then you have to play differently. So it depends a little bit on the weather.
Q. Do you think that with the greens being bowl-shaped that there's more chance of being able to hit long irons in?
SERGIO GARCIA: It depends. If it keeps raining and the greens don't get too firm it's a little bit easier to stop it with a long iron. And you've got kind of side walls that can help you a little bit. But if it gets firm it can go the other way. You're hitting a long iron in there, and if you just miss the slope and it takes a big bounce, it goes the other way, and then you have a tough chip. So it's a little bit trickier.
Q. If you were grading, we've now done Carnoustie and Birkdale, if you were grading them in terms of degree of difficulty, how would you run them?
SERGIO GARCIA: I'll say -- it's difficult to say, because the weather conditions were different both places. It was really, really windy last year, so the course played tough because of that. I still think on the beauty side this probably ranks as No. 1. On the difficulty side I'll probably rank Carnoustie as one, Birkdale as two, and this one as three.
I think, like I said before, I think if you drive the ball well here, it's not too bad from then on. I don't feel like the bunkers are quite as difficult as some of the other links courses might be. But I think the fairways are -- most of the fairways are a little bit narrower here than we've seen in the past.
Q. Two part question, please, if you don't -- if you don't use your driver, what clubs will you use, firstly? And secondly, if the event is held and the field predominantly don't use their drivers, does that mean more people are likely are to win or fewer people are likely to win?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I think, yeah, if there's less people using drivers that means that the shorter, straighter hitters will probably hit a bit more drivers and they'll be closer to where we hit it off the tee. So it would probably make it a bit more of a -- a bit more of a wide kind of tournament, I guess you could see, or an open tournament.
I don't know, yesterday, for example, I mean I hit 3-iron on 1; I hit 5-wood on 2 off the tee. I'm going to tell you the ones I didn't hit driver on. 4 I hit driver; 5 -- let's see, I hit driver on 6; I hit 5-wood on 7 -- on 8, sorry; driver on 9; driver on 10; driver on 12; 3-wood on 13; driver on 14; driver on 16; driver on 17; driver on 18. So I did hit a lot of drivers yesterday. But we'll see. I guess we'll have to see how the course plays during the week.
Q. Ever since you won the Amateur at Muirfield you've had very positive, warm support from the Scottish galleries when you come here. There isn't a major in Spain. Do you feel this is your home major in a sense, and does that make you think The Open is likely the one you're most likely to win?
SERGIO GARCIA: There's no doubt about that. I've always said it, like I said earlier in the press conference, I love this event for many reasons, not only for the kind of courses we play, how different it is, we don't get to play those courses very often throughout the year. But more than anything for how well the people have treated me here, ever since, yeah, probably ever since I won the Amateur in '98. So I feel like the support they give me and everything is just amazing and that really helps me to kind of push myself to a higher level and trying harder, if you can. I'm looking forward to doing well and hopefully win one here soon. That would be quite an experience.
Q. Two-parter, also, Sergio, can you size up your game right now and what you're working on. And also kind of size up your season.
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I think my game is, like I said before, it's getting better. We're working a little bit on my swing, pretty much just making sure that my club kind of stays in front of me. I was kind of losing a little bit, getting a little behind me and I was struggling a little bit. But it's definitely better.
Like I said before, I had a very nice practise last week at home and yesterday I played -- I hit the ball good. So that's very positive. And then -- what was the other one?
Q. The season.
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, the season has been kind of weird. I had a good finish at the U.S. Open, but that's pretty much everything I've done in the U.S. I played pretty well in Europe, a lot of good finishes, top-10's and somewhere around there. So it's been a little bit different, but I'm working hard. We're getting better and that's the main goal.
Q. And the other question was Greg Norman said he's played some practise rounds with you. With regard to focusing on doing well in majors, was there anything you culled from him that you found to be particularly useful?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I mean I think we all have our way of playing and we know what works best for us to perform. But I mean, Greg is a wonderful player, we all know that. He did awesome last year at the Open. It's great to see, I think, everything -- the desire he still has at his age, not only to play and to do well but to stay in shape and those kind of things. So it's quite impressive.
Q. Just to elaborate on the number of drives, is there any particular wind direction or any particular condition that would change it, or would it even itself out by just different holes?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, like I said before, with the wind we had yesterday, which was into the wind on 1, I did feel okay in hitting a good amount of drives. But if the wind changes and goes almost the opposite way like they say it's supposed to, there's a lot of holes that you might think about it a couple of times and realise what's the best situation to leave yourself in.
So I guess we'll just have to see as we go because some holes, like for example, I don't know, like 15 or 12 or something like that, if it plays into the wind you have to hit driver, because if not, it's going to be a really, really long second into the green. But if it's downwind then you might hit something different, keep it short of the bunkers. And there's some other bunkers that are not in play when it's into the wind but they become into play when it's into the wind.
Q. There's always a debate about who's the best player not to win a major. Would you say you hold that honour now, and if so, how does it sit with you?
SERGIO GARCIA: Do I? I don't know. I don't really care.
Q. It's sort of a badge of honour in a way.
SERGIO GARCIA: I understand what you're trying to say. But I don't know. Am I? I don't know. I guess you have to look at someone's career and see how they've done in majors and everything. But I couldn't really answer that question, I think.
Q. Well, let's say it's something you'd want to get rid of if you were considered that person?
SERGIO GARCIA: If I were --
Q. If you were considered the better player not to win a major, it's something you'd like to shake off?
SERGIO GARCIA: I'd love to get rid of it, yes.
Q. The last 12 months have been somewhat spectacular for Spanish sport when you consider the success of the national football team, Barcelona in the champions league and Nadal in tennis?
SERGIO GARCIA: And Real signed all these good players.
Q. Exactly, yeah. Can I ask if -- although to be fair, they have yet to prove that this will work but I hope it's the case. Can I ask if the success of your countrymen in various sports has inspired you, does it excite you and maybe does it even add a little pressure on you to join them as the great winners?
SERGIO GARCIA: On the last bit of your question, I don't think so. I think that it definitely inspires me to try even harder and everything.
I don't think it puts extra pressure. I try to do the best I can every time I go out there. I feel comfortable with that. Not many people can say that they've been No. 2 player in the world at their sport. There's a lot of people out there in the world. It's not that easy to get to that spot. So I'm pretty happy with that.
It is nice to see Spanish sports doing so well in the last year, year and a half. It makes you, being Spanish, it makes you so proud. And I've always said I love sports. I follow everything. For me to watch the football and to watch Rafael and Verdasco and some of the other players, and Pau Gasol winning the NBA and all of those kind of things, it's just beautiful. It's just great to see.
Q. When you look back, and I understand they're not behind you, but back in history, do you think to yourself, okay, everybody talks to me about winning majors, not winning majors, do you think to yourself there's an element about you that you've been very unlucky, or has it been that other people have been lucky or has it been -- like what? What do you feel? The moments that you've had the chances, is it just --
SERGIO GARCIA: No, I think that -- yeah, there are moments where you feel like you've maybe been a little bit unlucky. But more than anything I've just come to play against some guys that just -- they just raise their game and they played amazing on the last round or the last four or five holes when they needed to. So you can only look at it that way.
I feel like I've definitely given it my hardest. And sometimes it goes the right way, sometimes it doesn't. But the most important thing for me is obviously winning it, but at least having the chance, being up there and giving yourself an opportunity. The guy that is finishing 15th or 40th, he doesn't have even one shot. So I know they say that second is the first loser. I'd rather be the first loser than the 39th loser.
When you're out there you have your chance. Sometimes it goes your way, sometimes it doesn't. The only thing you can do is keep giving yourself chances and make sure that that happens.
Q. Just as a follow-up, one quick one, do you feel like you are unluckier than other players, unluckier than most?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, some are better than most, and some others are -- no, I wouldn't say that. I think that we all have our good breaks and our bad breaks. It's just a matter of getting them at the right time. And unfortunately for me it hasn't happened yet. But I'm going to keep giving myself chances to make sure that it happens.
Q. Could you give us an update on your putting right now, one to ten, where would you rank it?
SERGIO GARCIA: 15.
Q. 15? Perfect. Is Stan Utley in the mix anymore, and seriously, where are you in terms of it?
SERGIO GARCIA: No, I feel pretty good. I think funny enough probably throughout this last probably four months or so, probably putting has been one of my best clubs. Yes, Stan, we're still working. We saw each other at U.S. Open and Hartford and also in Memphis.
But, no, I feel good. It's just a matter of keep getting better and keep getting more consistency, more confidence. I got a nice new Rossa putter from Taylor Made that feels really, really good. So I'm looking forward to getting some good rolls on it, getting some good confidence and see where that takes me.
MALCOLM BOOTH: Sergio, thanks very much.
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