A Conversation with Sergio Garcia - COPIED

By Casey BiererJanuary 12, 2009, 5:00 pm

Editors Note: Sergio Garcia started playing golf when he was three years old. The Spaniard won his club championship when he was twelve. His father, Victor, is his teacher and has played in eight career Champions Tour events. Sergio Garcia's first victory on the European Tour, the Catalonian Open Championship, came as an amateur. Sergio Garcia turned professional in 1999. Seven PGA TOUR victories, eleven international victories and a Ryder Cup impact matched by few others ' a 14-4-2 record, greatness in the young Spaniard has always been present. There have been doubters over the years - can Sergio win the big one - but never self-doubt. And now, after nine years as a professional, at twenty eight years of age, Sergio Garcia is THE PLAYERS champion.
Golf Channel business reporter Casey Bierer conducted this exclusive interview on Tuesday, April 29, 2008 at the Wachovia Championship.

Casey / Q:
Sergio, how would you define innovation in golf equipment?
Sergio / A:
I guess innovation comes with technology and obviously new things that you bring out that look good and that perform. And, I think that's one of the key aspects of TaylorMade-adidas Golf. You know, they're always trying to make new equipment that of course looks good and feels good, but, at the same time, that it works and helps you become a better player. So, that's always a very important thing.
Casey / Q:
When you think of the TaylorMade brand, what comes to mind?
Sergio / A:
I think different things come to mind. But, one of them is quality. And, as you said, innovation and technology. Those are things that come to mind. And, also the drive that everybody at the company has to try to keep getting better and better. TaylorMade never rests on what theyve done. They are always working hard to keep improving their products.
Casey / Q:
How do you feel as a player being part of this staff ' the TaylorMade-adidas Golf tour staff?
Sergio / A:
Oh, it's great for me. You know, I've been a part of this staff since 2002 and it's been a great thrill throughout my career. And, I think that every time you're involved with one of the best companies in your sport it's something that you should always be proud of.
Casey / Q:
Being with the company as long as you have, how have you seen things evolve and change?
Sergio / A:
I think it's changed, definitely, quite a bit. And for the good. You know we have always had great woods. I think they've done a lot of work of course trying to get those even better. But they have also worked so hard on their irons and on the wedges. And they have worked so hard on their putters as wellthey have the new Spider putter now. And the ball ' the new TP LDP ball is fantastic. And its not just TaylorMade. adidas also has improved a lot since early 2000. So, I think the whole package of the TaylorMade-adidas brand has evolved to a level that is making it hard to reach for everybody else.


Casey / Q:
You have been very vocal about being a big fan of TaylorMades metal woods. What do you like so much about them?
Sergio / A:
I think the package is great. They look good, they feel good, they play consistently well. And that consistency is so important. I always feel like I know where the ball is going. It doesnt always go exactly where I want it to but if it doesnt I know it is me and not the club. TaylorMade always comes with new ideas and things that can help you get better on your game. Not only us TOUR players, but, you know, also the amateurs. I think the feelthe feel that the TaylorMade metal woods have, it's just better. You can still work the ball which is always nice for a player like myself, but, I can still really bomb the ball as well. So, you know, I think that whole package of their metal wood line is just fantastic.
Casey / Q:
You were playing the SuperQuad for quite some time and you recently switched to the Tour Burner. How does the Tour Burner perform differently than the SuperQuad?
Sergio/ A:
The look is a little bit different. I like the look since they first showed it to me. I feel like, you know, I can work the ball a little easier than maybe some of the drivers Ive used in the past. The Tour Burner definitely doesn't spin the ball quite as much as maybe the SuperQuad that I used to play. So, overall I still manage to maneuver the ball without getting as much climb on my drives as I did before. And with that and the launch angle and everything else Im probably hitting the ball a little longer than I have been the last year or so. Im just driving it better with the Tour Burner.


Casey / Q:
Lets talk about the golf ball. You are liking Dean Snell right about now, arent you?
Sergio / A:
He's done a great job, really.
Casey / Q:
What are your thoughts on the new LDP ball?
Sergio / A:
Yeah, Dean Snell and the whole TaylorMade ball groupI think they've worked really hard in the past probably 3 or 4 years - extremely hard - to try to make a good consistent ball. I think it is without a doubt the best wind ball there is out here on TOUR. It performs really, really well in the wind. I feel like I can keep it low and usually hit it farther than the other guys into the wind, mainly with the irons. I think they've done a very good job there. Also, it performs very well around the greens. It's got a good, nice soft feel but it still goes a good distance and, you know, you can also get a nice ball speed off the driver as well. So, I think the TP Red LDPit's definitely a wonderful ball. I think for me it's the best one out there.


Casey / Q:
Lets shift gears and talk about adidas. What stands out to you most about the footwear?
Sergio / A:
adidas on the footwear side has always been very good. They've always made a innovative shoe. A comfortable shoe that made you feel good on the course that performed that when you finish a round you don't feel like your feet are killing you or anything like that which is always important. We walk so much playing golf and my feet never hurt. I think this year with the new Tour 360 Limited, I think they've done an amazing job in the way it looks. I think everything else about the shoeit's up to even higher standards than before with the original Tour 360. On comfort and being low to the ground and stability and traction. But, you know, I just love the look of the new shoe. I think it looks very, very cool. I think it's probably the best looking shoe adidas has ever made and, you know, I'm very happy to be able to wear them.


Casey / Q:
Talk about why its so important to be well grounded in your stance and how your power works from the ground up.
Sergio / A:
Yeah, definitely. I think the closer you are to the ground the better it is to control your strike and control your balance when you hit the ball. This becomes a lot more important than people might think. So, the closer to the ground you are the better your balance is, the better your strike is, and you know usually it's going to work better for you. Also, one thing I found out with this new Tour 360 Limited, is that when you walk on a cart path or out in the parking lot or on any paved surface, you don't feel the spikes going up through the sole of your feet. And that is important to me because I am always going from soft surfaces to hard surfaces and back and forth and the shoe always feels consistent and comfortable.
Casey / Q:
You also wear adidas apparel. Apparel has become an important part of your equipment arsenal, hasnt it?
Sergio / A:
You know, it definitely has. For me it has become just as important as any other piece of my equipment. The ClimaCool clothes make you feel comfortable and make you feel good. I think breathable clothes that adidas makes that keep you cool when its hot and warm in the coldeverything to keep your body at a good temperature and make sure that it doesn't go up and down too muchthis is very important. Also, with some of the new material coming out ' the new PowerWeb they are coming out with ' it actually helps you keep your posture nice and straight and keep a nice posture throughout the whole round of golf. And I think the new PowerWeb material might even help prevent some injuries because you are getting support from the material and you can control your body a little easier. So, for me, the adidas apparel has become very important. And lets face it, they make great looking stuff too so that doesnt hurt either.


Casey / Q:
Sergio, we talked some about the Tour Burner driver you are playing now. What do you like to see in a fairway wood?
Sergio / A:
I think in the fairway wood it is very important how it looks to me. Looks are very important to make sure that when you put a club down you like what you see. Then it's got a good feel to it when you're hitting the ballmake sure that you can feel the ball coming off the face and you can do more or less anything you want to do with the ball. Because I have to be able to work the ball effortlessly with the fairway wood. I need to hit big draws and big cuts at will and I need to be able to hit it out of the rough as well. So how it sets up on the ground is very important and I think TaylorMade does a great job with the design of their fairway woods. I hit them extremely well and I have a lot of confidence with them.
Casey / Q:
A lot of amateurs are still carrying long irons instead of rescue clubs. Should they be thinking of switching to rescue clubshybrid clubs?
Sergio / A:
You know, for usfor a TOUR playera 2-iron or a 3-iron or a 4-iron might not look too difficult to hit. But, even here on TOUR a lot of guys are carrying rescue clubs instead of maybe a 2-iron or a 3-iron. And you can imagine for an amateur how difficult it must be standing over a shot with a 2-iron or a 3-ironhow difficult it must be to hit off tight lies and maybe the rough and stuff like that. Those shots are even tough for TOUR players with long irons. So, for amateurs, even good amateurs, it must be very difficult. You know, the rescue clubs have a lower center of gravity and the weight is moved farther away from the face so it is easier to get the ball up in the air. They make it a little bit easier to hit out of those tight lies and maybe out of a bunker, maybe a little bit of rough, you know, mainly because it works a little bit more like a wood which gives you a little bit more of forgiveness. I think that's probably why some of the amateurs should go and try the rescues and maybe realize that everybody is trying to make the game a little bit easier ' certainly TaylorMade is - so the amateur shouldn't make the game any harder for themselves than it already is, right? Its a pretty tough game already. And the bottom line is that rescue clubs are easier to hit.


Casey / Q:
Sergio, thanks for your time.
Sergio / A:
Casey, my pleasure. Thank you.
Email your thoughts to Casey Bierer

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Match-by-match: 2018 WGC-Dell Technologies, Day 1

By Will GrayMarch 21, 2018, 6:32 pm

Here is how things played out on Day 1 of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, as 64 players take on Austin Country Club with hopes of advancing out of pool play:

Group 15: (15) Pat Perez vs. (50) Si Woo Kim, halved: The first match of the day ended up in a draw, as the top seed rallied from a deficit to salvage half a point. Kim won three of the first six holes and held a 3-up lead with seven holes to go, but Perez fought back with four birdies over the next six holes to draw even.

Group 15: (24) Gary Woodland vs. (37) Webb Simpson, halved: This group remains entirely up for grabs since nothing was decided on the opening day. Woodland took a 3-up lead at the turn, but Simpson rallied by winning four of the next seven holes, including a birdie on No. 17 that brought him back to all square for the first time since the third hole.

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Watch: Thomas saves par from impossible position

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 21, 2018, 5:18 pm

Luke List was just hoping for an opening in his Day 1 match against Justin Thomas at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

Thomas cracked the door on the par-4 ninth, but then quickly slammed it shut. Thomas, 3 up through eight holes, was in terrible shape after two shots at No. 9. But his third shot was a beauty, and a heartbreaker for List.

Thomas made the putt to halve the hole and make the turn 3 up.

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LPGA's new Q-Series to offer deferrals for amateurs

By Randall MellMarch 21, 2018, 4:36 pm

The LPGA’s new Q-Series, which takes the place of the final stage of Q-School beginning this year, will come with a revolutionary new twist for amateurs.

For the first time, the LPGA will offer deferrals that will allow amateurs to win tour membership in December but delay turning pro until the following June or July, tour commissioner Mike Whan told GolfChannel.com.

It’s a notable change, because the deferral will allow a collegiate player to earn tour membership at the end of this year but retain amateur status to finish out her collegiate spring season next year, before joining the tour.

“We haven’t done that in the past, because we didn’t want an onslaught, where every player in college is trying to join the tour,” Whan said.

The way it worked in the past, a collegian could advance through the final stage of Q-School, but if that player earned the right to a tour card and wanted to take up membership, she had to declare after the final round that she was turning pro. It meant the player would leave her college team in the middle of the school year. It was a particularly difficult decision for players who earned conditional LPGA status, and it played havoc with the makeup of some college teams.

Whan said the revamped Q-Series format won’t create the collegiate stampede that deferrals might have in the past.

“It will take a unique talent to show up at the first stage of Q-School and say, ‘I’ll see you at Q-Series,’” Whan said. “There won’t be a lot of amateurs who make it there.”

Under the new qualifying format, there will continue to be a first and second stage of Q-School, but it will be much harder to advance to the final stage, now known Q-Series.

Under the old format, about 80 players advanced from the second stage to the Q-School finals. Under the new format, only 20 to 30 players from the second stage will advance to the Q-Series, and only a portion of those are likely to be collegians.

Under the new format, a maximum of 108 players will meet at the Q-Series finals, where a minimum of 45 tour cards will be awarded after 144 holes of competition, played over two weeks on two different courses. The field will include players who finished 101st to 150th and ties on the final LPGA money list, and players who finished 11th to 30th and ties on the final Symetra Tour money list. The field will also include up to 10 players from among the top 75 of the Rolex Women’s World Rankings and the top five players on the Golfweek Women’s Collegiate Rankings.

“We feel if you make it to the Q-Series finals as a college player, you are probably among the best of the best, and we ought to give you the opportunity to finish the college year,” Whan said.

University of Washington coach Mary Lou Mulflur said she would prefer amateurs not be allowed to compete at Q-School, but she called this a workable compromise.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” Mulflur said. “It’s better than the way it’s been in the past. That was hard, because it broke up teams.”

Mulflur said she disliked the tough position the former policy put college players in at the final stage of Q-School, where they had to decide at event’s end whether to turn pro and accept tour membership.

“I can’t imagine being a kid in that position, and I’ve had a couple kids in that position,” Mulflur said. “It’s hard on everybody, the player, the family and the coaches. You hear about coaches standing there begging a kid not to turn pro, and that’s just not the way it should be, for the coach or the player.”

Mulflur agreed with Whan that the new Q-Series format should limit the number of collegians who have a chance to win tour cards.

“I believe it’s a good compromise, and it will be interesting to see how it plays out going forward,” Mulflur said. “Kudos to the commissioner for giving kids this option.”

University of Miami coach Patti Rizzo, a four-time LPGA winner, applauds the deferral option. Two years ago, Rizzo lost her best player, Danny Darquea, who turned pro in the spring. It hurt Miami’s team.

“That was probably our best chance in seven years to win the nationals,” Rizzo said.

Rizzo said her concerns seeing a player turn pro go beyond how it affects her team.

“What all these girls need to realize now is that a degree is more important than ever,” Rizzo said. “In my day, it was like, 'My chances are pretty good. I will get my card.’ But it’s so much more competitive now. And financially, it’s hard to make it. I think it’s so much harder than it ever was. So many girls aren’t making it, and they need a backup plan.”

Darquea is playing the Symetra Tour now, but Rizzo said she is also back in Miami taking classes to finish up her final semester and get her degree.

“It’s great she is doing that, but it would have been better if she could have stayed in college three more months and got her degree and then turned pro,” Rizzo said. “I think this deferral option is great, and I would think all the college coaches will think so, too.”

Whan said collegians who take deferrals will be counseled.

“We will sit down with them and their families and explain the risks,” Whan said. “If you take a deferral and start playing on July 15, you might find yourself back in Q-Series again later that year, because you may not have enough time.”

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Tour still focused on security after death of suspected Austin bomber

By Rex HoggardMarch 21, 2018, 4:07 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Although the suspect in the wave of Austin-area bombings was killed early Wednesday, the PGA Tour plans to continue heightened security measures at this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play at Austin Country Club.

According to various news outlets, Mark Anthony Conditt has been identified as the bombings suspect, and he was killed by an explosion inside his car in Round Rock, Texas, which is 19 miles north of Austin Country Club.

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“We do not comment on the specifics of our security measures, but we are continuing to work in close collaboration with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in Austin to ensure the safety of our players and fans at this week’s tournament,” the Tour said in a statement. “Regardless of the recent developments, our heightened security procedures will remain in place through the remainder of the week.”

Authorities believe Conditt is responsible for the five explosions that killed two people and injured five others in Austin or south-central Texas since March 2.

Play began Wednesday at the Match Play.