Sergio Garcia British Open Press Conference Transcript
SERGIO GARCIA: I hope so. I think I can hit the ball better now than I was hitting it the last couple of days, I'm getting there little by little. I really like the course. I liked it four years ago when I came here and played the British Amateur and I like it even more now so I'm looking forward to it and hopefully we can have another good week in a major.
Q. Sergio, is the course then when you won the amateur anything like it is this week?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, the rough was pretty thick, but it wasn't as close to the fairway as it is now, and a couple of fairways were nice and narrow. It was pretty similar. There are a couple of changes, a couple of tees on 4 and 13, and the bunker on 14 is a little closer to the fairway, other than that it's exactly the same course.
Q. What is it that you like so much?
SERGIO GARCIA: I think it's just an unbelievable links course. For my liking, I think it's probably the best one. You have every different kind of shot in a links course, blind shots, you have left-to-rights, right-to-lefts and it's not one of those links courses that just goes one way and comes back the other way. It goes around a little, so you get crosswinds and those are the hardest to control and it's, I think, a very nice test.
Q. You left Bethpage saying you had learned something that week. You had a month to reflect on it. What did you learn from that experience?
SERGIO GARCIA: I learned a lot of things. I think I've matured a lot, I became a lot stronger, and it was a great experience. I was playing for a major. I was trying my best and I really felt like I played well enough to win it, but unfortunately, things didn't work out, but I'm getting there. The worse thing -- looking at the best side of the worse thing is although I haven't one a major yet, I have top tens in all of them and I'm only 22 years old, so it's not too bad and hopefully I can start getting closer and closer to a victory.
Q. What's the one key here to a good score?
SERGIO GARCIA: You have to drive it well. As there is in any major, you have to be able to drive the ball in the fairway, put it in play and from then on, you know, it gets a lot easier to be able to score.
There's no doubt, in this tournament, more than any other, the weather is a big influence. So if you're lucky and you get a good draw, you can score well and have some bad results, the other guys. It's one of those tournaments you need to play well and be a little fortunate.
Q. Is it accuracy more than length?
SERGIO GARCIA: There is no doubt about that. We don't need to hit many drivers on this course, so as I said before, to drive it in the fairway is very important. There's a couple of holes, three or four holes where you need to hit driver in Par-4s and hitting the fairway on 10 or 18 or holes like that, so I think it's going to be good.
Q. Playing with Tiger in the final round of the Open, the 3rd hole on the green you were talking a little bit, he didn't seem to want to answer you, and on the -- are you trying to make it more of a friendly sort of match with him that day, is there something you learned from this focus?
SERGIO GARCIA: Not really. I was playing the way I always play. No, I was just being myself. He was great and we had a lot of fun. With all the pressure that was involved on it. It was good. I really enjoyed it and actually can't wait to put myself in that same position again and hopefully come in on top next time.
Q. Were you going to replace his divot for him?
SERGIO GARCIA: No, I was just throwing it back to Steve.
Q. You said you got close in some majors. What do you think has been the difference and what do you think could be the difference to make you win this time?
SERGIO GARCIA: I think the game is there. I think I play well enough. But I said it before, you know, to win a major, it's not enough of playing well. You have to have good breaks at the right time and those are things that can get your round going and turn around that can be kind of like not a very good round, like two or three over par to two or three under par and it's a big difference. You just have got to have some nice breaks at the right time and make a couple of putts when you need them. That's what happened to me on Sunday. After the start that Tiger had, if I would have made a par on three or birdied four after hitting two great shots, you never know what could have happened, put some pressure on him, but unfortunately he gave me some room and I gave it straight back at him on the next.
Q. When you turned pro did you set a target for what age you would win your first major and if so, are you overdue?
SERGIO GARCIA: Not really. I wanted to win it as soon as possible so that probably when I was 19, when I played my first one. That's what you come here for. You come to these tournaments to play well, to put yourself in a position and to try to win. You want to win a lot of tournaments, there is no doubt, but more than anything, you want to win majors.
I really feel like it's getting closer and closer every time. I think if I just keep believing in myself and keep trying as hard as I'm trying, the moment will come. It has to. I still have a lot of years to come.
Q. David Duval was saying a few minutes ago, there are quite a lot of players out here, and maybe you're one of them, you're just as talented as Tiger Woods. The difference maybe is Tiger Woods waits and waits and waits for people to make mistakes. Do you think that's a reasonable --(inaudible) --
SERGIO GARCIA: There's no doubt that he's able to do whatever it takes to be able to come out on top. There's no doubt that there's a lot of good players out there that can win and that can beat him. He just somehow manages himself to, you know, hang on there and hang in there and not make many mistakes. That probably putts a little bit extra pressure on the other guys, thinking, well, he's not going to make mistakes so we have to try harder. You know, I think that it's just a matter of time when somebody comes out and gets rid of it and makes everybody believe.
Q. That could be a key think if in a real head-to-head if somebody could explode the myth, as it were, that might take the aura way from Tiger?
SERGIO GARCIA: Maybe it would, I don't know. This is all -- you know. We never know what could happen. We're all trying our best to beat him and everybody else.
Q. Sergio, you got some pretty rough treatment at Bethpage, especially on Saturday, I think. Are you very happy to be here in front of the British galleries who maybe treat you with a bit more respect?
SERGIO GARCIA: Don't get me wrong, I think the crowds in America are great. I'm glad that I took two weeks off because I needed to take some time off, not from the States or England or from whatever, I just needed to take some time off from golf. You know, I'm looking forward to play here, but I'm looking forward to come back enter nationally in a couple of weeks, back to the States. It's where I love to play and I can't find a better place to do it, but I'm really looking forward to this week, and hopefully I can have a good week. I know I've done well here before so hopefully I can keep the momentum going.
Q. Sergio, did you and Tiger ever talk about the comments you made on Saturday at the Open or if you did, the note you left for him in his locker?
SERGIO GARCIA: What?
Q. When you apologized for your comments about him at the U.S. Open.
SERGIO GARCIA: What do you want to know about that?
Q. Did you talk to Tiger about that?
SERGIO GARCIA: I told him I was sorry and I didn't mean anything bad about it, and he was cool with it, he said not to worry, he didn't take it personal. That was about it.
Q. Will Ms. Hingis be joining you this week?
SERGIO GARCIA: No, she's not going to be here. She's recovering from her ankle surgery and she's doing actually quite well. She's getting ready to hopefully playing some tournaments soon.
Q. I apologize, we've asked this of all the guys that have come through here. What are your thoughts about the criticisms made by some of the great golfers about the field these days and about how the golfers don't give Tiger a run. What do you feel about what Nicklaus and Palmer are saying?
SERGIO GARCIA: I don't have anything to say about that. I think everybody has their own opinions and, you know, I know where I'm standing and I'm happy with where I am. I'm trying hard to be better. Everybody can make their own -- everybody thinks a different way. I don't think I'm going to get into that.
Q. Do you ever curse your bad luck, that you came around at the same time as Tiger?
SERGIO GARCIA: Not at all. I actually came out a little later than him, so I have some years ahead of him. No, I think Tiger has been great. I think it's the best thing that could happen to golf. I don't think if he would have come out at the level of golf we're playing right now would be as good as it is. There's no doubt that he's taken some majors out of other players, but so has Nicklaus. We just have to keep trying and be happy with what you have.
Q. Sergio, Justin Rose is playing with Tiger and you've played with him many times. How intimidating is it? Is it a good thing to avoid playing with him or --
SERGIO GARCIA: I'm not intimidated to play against him. You guys like to try to intimidate us about playing with him. He makes you feel good. I love playing with him. I have a lot of respect for him. I know he's a great player, and yes, I do get nervous when I play with him because I know I have to play my best, but not at all intimidated because I know if I play well, I can beat anybody out here. I don't know. I don't know how -- I can't tell you how Justin Rose is thinking. That's my point.
Q. Sergio, I know in the past you said growing up in Spain you were inspired by Seve. How sad are you that he is not here this week?
SERGIO GARCIA: It's unfortunate, it really is. The British Open without Seve, it's not a British Open anymore. There's something missing on it. You know, hopefully, you know, he'll take some time off, think about what he has been doing and just recover and start playing better golf and be back as strong as ever.
Q. Do you believe he can do that?
SERGIO GARCIA: Yes. Why not? It's hard. It's difficult, but I really think that he can, yes. He's strong enough.
Q. You and Seve had a little bit of a falling out earlier in the season, in the Spanish Open, did you get an opportunity to resolve that with him?
SERGIO GARCIA: I think everything is said and done. I think that it maybe got a little out of hand. But I never wanted to get into anything. I think everything is forgotten.
Q. Have you spoken to him?
SERGIO GARCIA: No, I haven't seen him for a while.
Q. How often do you take a driver off these tees and do you find yourself 2-iron, 3 wood, what have you been doing off the tees?
SERGIO GARCIA: Quite a lot of 2-irons, 3-irons, 4-irons some holes. It can be -- depending on the wind, you can hit some drivers. More than anything, there are a couple of holes where probably with some good drives you can reach, like 2, if you get a little downwind. But mostly you would probably hit, I don't know, about four or five drivers, at the most, something like that.
Q. Given your '98 match play -- (inaudible) --
SERGIO GARCIA: I think it's totally different. It's a different tournament. It's a different feel, there is a different way of playing it. It was match play and now it's medal or stroke play. As I said before, I think that's helped that I've done well here, so I know that I have some confidence there in my pockets. I have a little extra (inaudible) but when the tournament starts, it's the British Open and the courses play a little different. If you start well, you know, it can give you some confidence, but it's not -- because I won here in '98, doesn't mean I'm going to win here this week. I'm going to try.
Q. What are some special shots from that week; do you still recall?
SERGIO GARCIA: Yes. I still remember some really good shots I hit, and some really good shots some other guys hit against me. It's good to remember. We'll see, because I remember the weather was pretty bad too and hopefully we'll get better weather than that week.
Q. Can you pick out a couple?
SERGIO GARCIA: I remember the tee shot I hit on the 4th hole, I think it was either on the finals on the morning, I think, or the semifinals, I think it was on the morning of the finals. I think the pin was like middle right and I hit a great 4-iron to four or five feet and made a good birdie from -- when the tee was 20 yards in front of where we are now so it was playing quite a lot into the wind. And I remember -- of course I remember (inaudible) after being two up and two to go and Hilton (ph) finishing birdie birdie, hitting a 2-iron on the last hole to make it continue, and that was a great match. There were some fond memories about it.
Q. Sergio, at the Canadian skins game I couldn't help but notice you played with no waggles or regrips. What was the result of that experiment?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, it's something I tried at Hartford. Unfortunately, I haven't had much time to work on it and now with the last couple of weeks, I worked a little and I just tried to get comfortable with the ball and it seems to be working, so hopefully it will be okay.
Q. What made you decide to stop doing that?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, more than anything, I'm just trying to feel comfortable with the ball, and if I don't feel quite as comfortable, that's where the waggles or regrips, whatever you want to call it. If I feel comfortable with the ball, it's no problem, that's more or less what I've been working on.
STEWART McDOUGAL: Sergio, thank you.
Stock Watch: Strange grumpy; Tiger Time again?
Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.
Jon Rahm (+9%): This should put his whirlwind 17 months in the proper context: Rahm (38) has earned four worldwide titles in 25 fewer starts – or a full season quicker – than Jordan Spieth (63). This kid is special.
Tommy Fleetwood (+7%): Putting on a stripe show in windy conditions, the Englishman defended his title in Abu Dhabi (thanks to a back-nine 30) and capped a 52-week period in which he won three times, contended in majors and WGCs, and soared inside the top 15 in the world.
Sergio (+3%): Some wholesale equipment changes require months of adjustments. In Garcia’s case, it didn’t even take one start, as the new Callaway staffer dusted the field by five shots in Singapore.
Rory (+2%): Sure, it was a deflating Sunday finish, as he shot his worst round of the week and got whipped by Fleetwood, but big picture he looked refreshed and built some momentum for the rest of his pre-Masters slate. That’s progress.
Ken Duke (+1%): Looking ahead to the senior circuit, Duke, 48, still needs a place to play for the next few years. Hopefully a few sponsors saw what happened in Palm Springs, because his decision to sub in for an injured Corey Pavin for the second and third rounds – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard – was as selfless as it gets.
Austin Cook (-1%): The 54-hole leader in the desert, he closed with 75 – the worst score of anyone inside the top 40. Oy.
Phil (-2%): All of that pre-tournament optimism was tempered by the reality of his first missed cut to start the new year since 2009. Now ranked 45th in the world, his position inside the top 50 – a spot he’s occupied every week since November 1993 – is now in jeopardy.
Careful What You Wish For (-3%): Today’s young players might (foolishly) wish they could have faced Woods in his prime, but they’ll at least get a sense this week of the spectacle he creates. Playing his first Tour event in a year, and following an encouraging warmup in the Bahamas, his mere presence at Torrey is sure to leave everyone else to grind in obscurity.
Curtis Strange (-5%): The two-time U.S. Open champ took exception with the chummy nature of the CareerBuilder playoff, with Rahm and Andrew Landry chatting between shots. “Are you kidding me?” Strange tweeted. “Talking at all?” The quality of golf was superb, so clearly they didn’t need to give each other the silent treatment to summon their best.
Brooks Koepka (-8%): A bummer, the 27-year-old heading to the DL just as he was starting to come into his own. The partially torn tendon in his left wrist is expected to knock him out of action until the Masters, but who knows how long it’ll take him to return to game shape.
What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm
Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:
Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft
Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft
Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts
Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts
Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red
Ball: TaylorMade TP5x
Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff
Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.
While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.
Watching Andrew Landry and Jon Rahm in playoff. Walking off tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me ? Talking at all. ?— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.
0 words— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The issue is I don’t want to make you a bit relaxed or comfortable. High pressure, good.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you watch the end of the NFL games yesterday ? Enough said.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
I didn’t say you couldn’t be friends and competitive. But in a playoff, 1 tiny mistake and you lose, and that devastated me. Friends before and after, competitors during play.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you win ? It’s all about surviving the competition to test yourself.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.
Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over
The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.
As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.
Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.
And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.
And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.
McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.
The Ryder Cup topped his list.
Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.
When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.
“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”
McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.
Or similar assertions from TV analysts.
“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”
European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.
And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.
The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.
Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.
And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.
Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.
The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.
The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.
More bulletin board material, too.
Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.