RAND JERRIS: It's our pleasure to welcome Sergio Garcia to the interview room this afternoon. Sergio is playing in his 9th United States Open Championship at Torrey Pines. Sergio had an important victory earlier this year at Sawgrass. Talk about what that victory has meant for your confidence and what you bring from that event as you come here today.
SERGIO GARCIA: I guess winning the PLAYERS it's always something huge, and that gives you a lot of confidence, winning on a tough golf course and probably the deepest field in golf we play all year. So it's always important for a player. It was a great victory.
I had a good week last week, too, good Sunday to finish up there. I'm looking forward to keeping that momentum going and hopefully give myself a good chance this weekend.
RAND JERRIS: I know you've played in the Buick Invitational a couple of times, not recently. How well do you feel you know the golf course? Is it really different from what you remember from playing the Buick a couple of years ago.
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I haven't played it yet this week. But I heard something about it. Obviously it's a U.S. Open so it's going to be a little bit different, some of the fairways are probably a little bit narrower, and the rough obviously is going to be a little bit thicker.
But we're playing at a different time in the year. We play early in the season, it's usually never too dry, always seems to be a little bit wet and the greens soft and stuff.
It's definitely going to be playing different. Like any U.S. Open, it's just a matter of being patient, knowing that throughout four days something wrong is going to happen at one time and you've just got to be able to overcome it and make sure you can move forward.
Q. Could you compare for us your feelings and emotions coming down the stretch at the TPC as compared to what you were maybe feeling coming down the stretch at the British last year. A lot of people say that TPC is the fifth Major, was it similar feelings?
SERGIO GARCIA: Definitely. I guess both courses have a very strong finish to it. Of course TPC having 16, 17, and 18, one of the best finishes we have all year. And Carnoustie having 16, 17, and 18 there, which are three tough holes to finish with.
No, the feelings were similar. Every time you're trying to win a big event like those two of course you're a little bit nervous and you're trying to control your emotions and stuff. But they were both great experiences. I learned from both of them. I'm looking forward to go through the motions again this week.
Q. Are your expectations different when you play a public course versus a groomed country club?
SERGIO GARCIA: Not at all, no.
Q. Can you talk about the meaning of Father's Day, growing up with your father, and maybe do you have an experience that sticks out when you were a little kid and just the look on his face when you're shaping shots as a youngster and just the meaning of Father's Day to you and your father?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I guess like everybody else that's got his father it's always a special week. Of course, yeah, little things like that come to mind, when you're a young kid and you're playing there and you're playing against him and probably the first time you beat him, special things like that come to mind.
It's always good fun. I think I consider myself very fortunate because my family has been quite healthy. I still have both my parents in good health. It's good to have them around this week. Hopefully we'll be able to have something to celebrate by the end of the week.
Q. I know you haven't played here very often, but is it tough to tell how difficult the course is going to play throughout the week?
SERGIO GARCIA: Yes, I guess if the weather is good the course is just going to get tougher as the week goes on, as the greens get firmer and the fairways get firmer. A lot of good drives might end up in the rough with the slope that the fairways have and everything. You might hit a good drive, it bounces and lands in the middle of the fairway and rolls into the rough. Obviously with the greens firming up it makes it tougher to control your shots, even if the first cut of rough is not too thick.
I guess it depends a little bit on the weather. So if the weather is good, which I think it's supposed to, it will probably be difficult, a good challenge like it always is. But we'll see. So far there's not been much wind, which is a rarity for this year. Usually it's a howling wind. So we'll see what happens.
Q. Can you just talk a little bit about yourself and how you've changed over the years and what you expect out of yourself at Majors at this point, maybe how much you've grown, especially in the last two years in playing Majors?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I think I've always told myself the same thing at the Majors, I try to ask myself to play well, to give myself chances and try to win as many as possible. I've had my chances so that's one goal accomplished. Now we have to try to get it to the next level and hopefully start winning Majors. That's what we're here for and that's what we work hard for.
I think all these years have really made me mature and get myself to know even better myself as a golfer and as a person and kind of control myself even better when I'm coming down the stretch. We'll see if we can start achieving that.
Q. Did that win at PLAYERS, you seemed to have a different kind of a confidence after that. Is that a springboard? Is that something that you can really bring into this Major and into Birkdale?
SERGIO GARCIA: I hope so. Yeah, I hope so. I think like we were talking about before, it's always important to win a big event. They're all important to us, but of course the Majors, the PLAYERS, they always come to mind. Anytime you win one of those it gives you a little bit of extra confidence.
And the most important thing is when you're down the stretch you know you've done it before on a big event on a tough field and on a difficult course. That definitely helps. I'm hoping to put good use to that in the near future.
Q. What do you think it's going to take to win to tournament, what kind of score, assuming the weather ‑‑
SERGIO GARCIA: One less than the guy that finishes second. I don't know. I've got to get a feel for the course. You never know, I mean it's ‑‑ it all depends on the weather, too. If the wind starts blowing the scores are going to start going up. And if it stays calm there are going to be some birdies out there. It's too early to know what's going to happen out there.
Q. Have you played 13 and 14 from the longer and the shorter tees?
SERGIO GARCIA: No, I haven't.
Q. If there are a couple of reasons that you feel more equipped to win a Major now, you talked about maturity a second ago, what would they be?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, that definitely comes to mind. I think my confidence with my short game, it's much greater than it's probably ever been, so that always helps.
For example, last week I played pretty solid all week but I didn't play that great on Saturday and my short game stood up for me and I still managed to keep myself with a chance of winning on Sunday on a tough course and difficult conditions.
So that is something that's been a while since ‑‑ it's been a while since I've been able to achieve that, like have a decent score without striking the ball like I normally do. That always brings good thoughts to mind, like if you miss a couple of fairways or something in there, you don't have to force the issue, you don't have to hit it ‑‑ you have a chance to get it up‑and‑down for par and keep your round going.
Hopefully I won't be able to do that much this week, but if I have to I know I have that confidence there.
Q. When you're putting well, you can't wait to get to the green and putt, do you have that feeling more now when you walk on the green?
SERGIO GARCIA: Definitely. It's a great feeling. When you're putting well ‑‑ the thing is when you're playing well but you're not making putts it feels like there's a lot of pressure, because it feels like if my game doesn't respond then what's going to happen, if I start missing a couple of greens here and there, am I going to be struggling.
If you're putting well, even if you're not playing well, you feel like as soon as I switch this over I'm going to start putting for birdies and I'm going to start making birdies instead of saving par. It is a good feeling, and it is good to have that confidence in your game.
Q. Tiger's coming in here, hasn't played since The Masters. To you how important is it to play your way into a Major championship and have a competitive experience going?
SERGIO GARCIA: I guess everybody is different. I usually like to play maybe one or two before a Major, feel like I'm already going into the Major with some momentum and some competitive fluid into it, some competitive juices, if you might call it.
But I guess everybody is different. I guess this is a different situation for him because of the knee problems. I'm sure that if he would have been fit he would have at least played a couple, maybe not last week, but maybe a couple before Memorial or some other tournaments.
Q. Could you compare your feelings about this course versus Oakmont from last year?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I haven't ‑‑ well, I mean it's hard for me to do it because I haven't seen the course yet. I've seen the course, but I've seen the course in February with different kind of rough and stuff. It's a great golf course. But I've still got to see it and get a feel for it. I heard it's not quite as tough as Oakmont was.
Q. As a follow‑up on the Tiger question, do you think that his knee makes him less of a favorite than he would normally be?
SERGIO GARCIA: Not at all.
Q. Why is that?
SERGIO GARCIA: It's like Big Brown, with a crack he was still the favorite (laughter).
Q. Where did Big Brown finish?
SERGIO GARCIA: We'll see. He's still a top‑10.
Q. You're one of the guys out here who hasn't played as much as these guys from Southern California and the California guys who love to play on the poa annua. Because the setup is so different, do you think it's not much of a disadvantage to you and maybe Adam Scott, people like that, because the setup is so different from a Buick Invitational?
SERGIO GARCIA: I don't know. I guess hopefully. But my home course in Spain, we do have a mix of poa annua greens and bent grass, so I am used to putting on poa annua greens, and I've done well in those two, at the Buick Classic in New York and a couple of the tournaments here and there.
I don't think it's a huge difference. I think we're playing different surfaces throughout the year and we tend to adjust to them as quickly as possible.
Q. Do you consider yourself an imaginative player? And if you do does the equipment in your short game allow you to be more creative out there. We think of things like Phil at Colonial hitting the shot from over a branch, under a branch, because he's got such confidence in his short game, once he gets up there. Do you consider yourself that type of an imaginative player and does that help?
SERGIO GARCIA: I guess I do. I mean I do like to work the ball, hit different shots, when I get in trouble. At the end of the day you have to be able to see the shot. If there's no shot, it doesn't matter how imaginative ‑‑ you can hit it through the tree, but if it doesn't go through, what's going too happen? At the end of the day you have to have a little bit of an opening and be able to see the shot. Sometimes you do have an opening and you don't feel comfortable with the shot and it's not worth hitting it. You've got to be a hundred percent.
So I do consider myself a little bit of that, but at the end of the day you also have to play a little bit the percentages. If your short game is good you know that you don't have to go for broke all the time because you know you can get it up‑and‑down and you know if the risk is too much and it's not worth it you're better off maybe hitting a safety shot and then trying to get up‑and‑down from somewhere around the green.
Q. Can you just talk about since you've turned professional how the game of golf globally has jump started since you first came out and just how crazy it's gotten and great for the game of golf globally?
SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, it's definitely great, it's definitely been great. Not since I turned pro. I mean, I hope I helped a little bit, but definitely since Tiger turn pro, I think it's jump started a lot. We get bigger crowds, a lot of different kinds of people. And guys that never used to go and watch golf, they come and watch us. It's great.
At the same time it can be tough a little bit because there's some guys that don't really understand what's going on sometimes.
But overall I think it's awesome. I think it's made the game bigger, which is important. It's given the game a bigger future. You see a lot of youngsters coming out now with a very good level, very well prepared. Anything that helps the game of golf is great for all of us.
Q. Phil Mickelson for the longest time was always labeled best player without a Major, now some people say it might be you. Do you kind of embellish that role or do you overlook it and say, "I don't really care"?
SERGIO GARCIA: No, I don't think too much about it. I've tried to take a positive out of it. Like anybody else my goal is also to win tournaments, win Majors, try to become the best player I can become and try to help the people out there, make people happy. That's a big goal. I think there's other players out there that are in a similar position to me, like Adam Scott and some of the other guys, but we're all trying to achieve that, so it's a work‑in‑progress.
Q. Just over half of our many Spanish speaking clients, can you just tell me in Spanish how your game is, how you're feeling going into this tournament and how the course is looking?
SERGIO GARCIA: (Answering in Spanish.)
RAND JERRIS: Thanks very much for your time this afternoon. Wish you luck this week.
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