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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After Further Review: Spieth needs a break

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 25, 2018, 1:11 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On Jordan Spieth's much-needed break ...

Jordan Spieth is heading for a break, and that’s probably a good thing.

Spieth just wrapped a run of six events in seven weeks that featured largely underwhelming results. A third-place finish at the Masters that stemmed from a nearly-historic final round deflects attention away from the fact that Spieth has yet to enter a final round this year less than six shots off the lead.

A return to his home state didn’t work, nor did a fight against par at Shinnecock or a title defense outside Hartford where everything went so well a year ago. His putting woes appear to have bottomed out, as Spieth finished 21st in putting at Travelers, but now the alignment issue that plagued his putting appears to have bled into other parts of his game.

So heading into another title defense next month at Carnoustie, Spieth plans to take some time off and re-evaluate. Given how fast things turned around last summer, that might prove to be just what he needs. - Will Gray


On the difference between this week and last week ...

There wasn’t a single outraged tweet, not a lone voice of descent on social media following Bubba Watson’s victory at the Travelers Championship, a 17-under par masterpiece that included a closing loop of 30.

Nobody declared that golf was broken, no one proclaimed the royal and ancient game a victim of technology and the age of uber athletes. The only response was appreciation for what Watson, a bomber in the truest form, was able to accomplish.

At 6,840 yards, TPC River Highlands was built for fun, not speed. Without wild weather or ill-advised hole locations and greens baked to extinction, this is what the best players in the game do, and yet no one seemed outraged. Weird. - Rex Hoggard


On the emergence of another LPGA phenom ...

Add another young star to the favorites list heading to the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Kemper Lakes outside Chicago next week.

Nasa Hataoka, the 19-year-old Japanese standout who needed her rookie season last year to acclimate to the LPGA, broke through for her first LPGA title Sunday at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship.

This wasn’t a surprise to LPGA followers. Hataoka won the Japan Women’s Open when she was 17, the first amateur to win a major on the Japan LPGA Tour, and she has been trending up this year.

Her tie for 10th at the U.S. Women’s Open three weeks ago was her fourth consecutive top-10 finish. She won going away in Arkansas, beating a deep field that included the top nine in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings. She outplayed world No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn and No. 3 Lexi Thompson on Sunday. - Randall Mell

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Bubba waiting for Furyk's text about Ryder Cup

By Will GrayJune 25, 2018, 12:39 am

CROMWELL, Conn. – After winning his third PGA Tour title in the span of five months, Bubba Watson is now waiting by his phone.

Watson’s victory at the Travelers Championship, his third at TPC River Highlands since 2010, accompanies recent victories at both the Genesis Open and WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play from earlier this year. It also moved the southpaw from No. 7 to No. 5 in the latest U.S. Ryder Cup standings, with the top eight after the PGA Championship qualifying automatically.

After serving as an assistant captain at Hazeltine despite ranking No. 7 in the world at the time, Watson made it clear that he hopes to have removed any doubt about returning to the role of player when the biennial matches head to Paris this fall.


Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


“It still says in my phone that (U.S. captain) Jim (Furyk) hasn’t texted me yet. So I’d really like for him to say I’m going to pick you no matter what,” Watson said. “The motivation is I’ve never won a Ryder Cup, so making the Ryder Cup team and trying to win a Ryder Cup as a player would be another tournament victory to me. It would be a major championship to me just because I’ve never done it, been a part of it.”

Watson turns 40 in November, and while he reiterated that his playing career might not extend too far into the future as he looks to spend more time at home with son Caleb and daughter Dakota, he’s also hoping to make an Olympic return in Tokyo in 2020 after representing the U.S. in Rio two years ago.

“Talking about the Olympics coming up, that’s motivating me,” he said. “It was the best experience of my life to watch all the other events, and then the golf tournament got in the way. I’d love to do it again. I’d love to watch all the events and then have to play golf as well.”

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Casey comes up short (again) to Bubba at Travelers

By Will GrayJune 25, 2018, 12:07 am

CROMWELL, Conn. – Staked to a four-shot lead entering the final round of the Travelers Championship, Paul Casey watched his opening tee shot bounce off a wooden wall and back into the middle of the fairway, then rolled in a 21-foot birdie putt off the fringe.

At the time, it appeared to be a not-so-subtle indicator that Casey was finally going to get his hands on a trophy that has barely eluded him in the past. Instead it turned out to be the lone highlight of a miserable round that left the Englishman behind only Bubba Watson at TPC River Highlands for the second time in the last four years.

Casey shot the low round of the tournament with a third-round 62 that distanced him from the field, but that opening birdie turned out to be his only one of the day as he stalled out and ultimately finished three shots behind Watson, to whom he lost here in a playoff in 2015.

Casey’s score was 10 shots worse than Saturday, as a 2-over 72 beat only five people among the 73 others to play the final round.


Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


“I mean, I fought as hard as I could, which I’m proud of,” Casey said. “Not many times you put me on a golf course and I only make one birdie. I don’t know. I’d be frustrated with that in last week’s event, but it is what it is.”

Casey led by as many as five after his opening birdie, but he needed to make a 28-foot par save on No. 10 simply to maintain a one-shot edge over a hard-charging Watson. The two men were tied as Casey headed to the 16th tee, but his bogeys on Nos. 16 and 17 combined with a closing birdie from Watson meant the tournament was out of reach before Casey even reached the final tee.

Casey explained that a “bad night of sleep” led to some neck pain that affected his warm-up session but didn’t impact the actual round.

“Just frustrating I didn’t have more,” he said. “Didn’t have a comfortable swing to go out there and do something with.”

Casey won earlier this year at the Valspar Championship to end a PGA Tour victory drought that dated back to 2009, but after being denied a second victory in short succession when he appeared to have one hand on the trophy, he hopes to turn frustration into further success before turning the page to 2019.

“I’m probably even more fired up than I was post-Tampa to get another victory. This is only going to be more fuel,” Casey said. “I’ve got 12 events or something the rest of the year. So ask me again in November, and if I don’t have another victory, then I will be disappointed. This is merely kind of posturing for what could be a very good climax.”

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Bubba thrives in his comfort zone

By Will GrayJune 25, 2018, 12:02 am

CROMWELL, Conn. – The 1:20 p.m. pairing Sunday at TPC River Highlands spanned the spectrum on the PGA Tour. In one corner stood science. Bryson DeChambeau, whose quantitative approach to golf seemingly knows no bounds, was looking to add another victory after winning a playoff earlier this month at Jack’s Place.

On the other side was art.

Bubba Watson doesn’t float golf balls in Epsom salt to identify minor imperfections. He doesn’t break out a compass to find the slightest errors in the Tour-supplied pin sheet. Even when he texts caddie Ted Scott, he prefers to use voice text rather than rely on his admittedly sub-optimal spelling.

But strolling along one of his favorite landscapes, Bubba the artist came out on top. Again.

Watson is in the midst of a resurgent season, one that already included a third victory at one of his favorite haunts in Riviera Country Club. It featured a decisive run through the bracket at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, and a return to the leaderboards at Augusta National where he fell short of a third green jacket.

It only makes sense, then, that he’d build upon that burgeoning momentum at the Travelers Championship, where he earned his first PGA Tour victory in 2010 and Sunday joined Billy Casper as the tournament’s only three-time champ with a final-round 63 to catch and pass Paul Casey.

This is a place where Watson can bomb drives by feel and carve short irons at will, and one where he officially put his stamp on the best season to date on Tour.

“His hand-eye coordination is by far one of the best I’ve ever seen,” DeChambeau said. “You’ve got me who was just struggling off the tee, and he’s just swiping shots down there. It was cool to watch. I wish I could do that. I probably could do that, but I just don’t feel like I’d be as consistent as he is.”


Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


Consistency wasn’t an apt descriptor a year ago, as Watson went from two-time major champ to completely off the radar. His world ranking, which began last year at No. 10 and is now back up to No. 13 after he became the first three-time winner this season, fell as far as 117th before his win at Riviera in February.

Watson attributes much of the turnaround to a change in health. Never really one to tip the scales, he lost 25 pounds in a three-month span last year while battling an undisclosed health concern. After putting some of the weight back on, he’s now able to focus more of his time and energy on fine-tuning one of the Tour’s most distinctive approaches.

“Anytime any of these guys kind of get comfortable with just being them, and golf is secondary in a sense, it helps them reach their potential,” said Scott. “I think the hype and the pressure can sometimes put things out of sort. And right now he’s just very comfortable with who he is as a person, and I think in his life. It helps him relax on the golf course.”

What Watson doesn’t prefer to mention is the equipment change he made that serves as a not-so-subtle line of demarcation. The southpaw turned heads at the end of 2016 when he agreed to play a colored Volvik ball on Tour during the 2017 season, only to watch his results fall off a cliff. A return to the Titleist ball he previously used has coincided with some of the best results of his 12-year career.

“I don’t think it has had any (role) in my success,” Watson said. “My clubs weren’t going the distance that I used to. I couldn’t shape it the way I want to. Luckily for me, I know the problem, and the problem was with health and not all these other things.”

But regardless of the true source of his turnaround, Watson is back to doing what he does best. That includes carving up the handful of venues that most fit his unique eye, be they lined by thick kikuyu rough outside Los Angeles or dotted with menacing water hazards outside Hartford.

The artistic touch was on full display with his final swing of the day. Facing exactly 71 yards to a pin tucked barely over the edge of a yawning bunker on No. 18, Watson laid the face open on his 63-degree wedge and hit a cut shot that spun and checked to inside 3 feet.

“Teddy put his arm around me, like, ‘That was an amazing shot,’” Watson said. “He’s seen a lot of shots, he’s been out here for many years. So for him to realize it, and other players to text me and realize it, it was special.”

While it seemed at the time like a shot that gave Watson a glimmer of hope in his pursuit of Casey, it ultimately turned out to be the final highlight of a three-shot victory. It’s the type of shot that few, if any, of his peers can visualize, let alone execute with such exact precision with the tournament hanging in the balance.

It’s the type of shot that separates Watson – the quirky left-hander with the pink driver who openly talks about his struggles with on-course focus and abhors few things more than trying to hit a straight shot – from even the best in the game when things are firing on all cylinders.

“The skills have always been there, as you know. But he’s just more relaxed now,” Scott said. “And when these guys, obviously when they enjoy it, they can play at their best and not get too stressed.”