Sergio Garcia British Open Press Conference Transcript

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 17, 2002, 4:00 pm
STEWART McDOUGAL: Ladies and gentlemen, Sergio Garcia. Four years ago you left here in June as an amateur champion. Perhaps there is a chance of a second championship. How do you feel?
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?
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.
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Four players vying for DJ's No. 1 ranking at Open

By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 8:41 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Four players have an opportunity to overtake Dustin Johnson for world No. 1 this week.

According to Golf Channel world-rankings guru Alan Robinson, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm each can grab the top spot in the world ranking.

Thomas’ path is the easiest. He would return to No. 1 with either a win and Johnson finishing worse than solo third, or even a solo runner-up finish as long as Johnson finishes worse than 49th.

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Twenty years after his auspicious performance in The Open, Rose can get to No. 1 for the first time with a victory and Johnson finishing worse than a two-way tie for third.

Kopeka can rise to No. 1 if he wins consecutive majors, assuming that his good friend posts worse than a three-way tie for third.

And Rahm can claim the top spot with a win this week, a Johnson missed cut and a Thomas finish of worse than solo second.   

Johnson’s 15-month reign as world No. 1 ended after The Players. He wasn’t behind Thomas for long, however: After a tie for eighth at the Memorial, Johnson blew away the field in Memphis and then finished third at the U.S. Open to solidify his position at the top.

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Punch shot: Predictions for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 4:00 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – In advance of the 147th Open Championship, writers sound off on burning questions as players ready for a fast and firm test at Carnoustie. Here’s what our writers think about myriad topics:

The Monday morning headline will be …

REX HOGGARD: “Survival.” This one is easy. It always is at Carnoustie, which is widely considered The Open’s most demanding major championship test. Monday’s headline will be that the champion - pick a champion, any one will do - “survived” another dramatic Open. You don’t dominate Carnoustie; you endure.

RYAN LAVNER: “DJ Bashes Way to Victory at Carnoustie.” If somehow a two-win season could be disappointing, it has been for DJ. He’s first in scoring average, birdie average, par-4 scoring, par-5 scoring, strokes gained: tee to green and proximity from the rough. Those last two stats are the most important, especially here at Carnoustie, with these dry conditions. The game’s preeminent long-and-straight driver, there’s a better-than-decent chance he rolls.

MERCER BAGGS: “Rahm Tough: Spaniard charges to Open victory.” Jon Rahm will claim him maiden major title this week by powering his way through the winds and fescue at Carnoustie.

JAY COFFIN: “Thomas wins second major, ascends to world No. 1 again.” Shortly after The Open last year, Thomas rolled through the end of the PGA Tour season. This is the time of year he likes best. Despite a poor Open record the last two years, he’s not remotely concerned. He’s a tad miffed he didn’t win in France two weeks ago and comes to Carnoustie refreshed, with a gameplan, and ready to pounce.

Who or what will be the biggest surprise?

HOGGARD: Style of play. Given Carnoustie’s reputation as a brute, the surprise will be how the champion arrives at his lofty perch. Unlike previous editions at Carnoustie, this week’s dry conditions will promote more aggressive play off the tee and the winner will defy the norm and power his way to victory.

LAVNER: Tiger Woods. This is Woods’ best chance to win a major this year, and here’s believing he contends. His greatest strengths are his iron game and scrambling, and both aspects will be tested to the extreme at Carnoustie, helping separate him from some of the pretenders. With even a little cooperation from his putter, he should be in the mix.

BAGGS: Padraig Harrington. He had a good opening round last week at the Scottish Open and has some good vibes being the 2007 Open champion at Carnoustie. He won’t contend for four rounds, but a few days in the mix would be a nice surprise.

COFFIN: Alex Noren. Perhaps someone ranked 11th in the world shouldn’t be a surprise, but with so much focus on some of the bigger, household names, don’t be surprised when Noren is in contention on Sunday. He hasn’t finished worse than 25th since early May and won two weeks ago in France. He also tied for sixth place last year at Royal Birkdale.

Who or what will be the biggest disappointment?

HOGGARD: Jordan Spieth. Although he was brilliant on his way to victory last year at Royal Birkdale, Spieth is not the same player for this week’s championship, the byproduct of a balky putter that has eroded his confidence. Spieth said giving back the claret jug this week was hard, but his finish will be even tougher.

LAVNER: Weather. This might sound a little sadistic, but one of the unique joys of covering this tournament is to watch the best in the world battle conditions they face only once a year – the bone-chilling cold, the sideways rain, the howling wind. It doesn’t appear as though that’ll happen this year. With only a few hours of light rain expected, and no crazy winds in the forecast, the biggest challenge for these stars will be judging the bounces on the hard, baked-out turf.

BAGGS: Jordan Spieth. The defending champion is still trying to find his winning form and Carnoustie doesn’t seem the place to do that. As much as he says he loves playing in strong winds, there should be enough danger around here to frustrate Spieth into a missed cut.

COFFIN: Rory McIlroy. I hope I’m wrong on this, because the game is better when Rory is in contention at majors. Putting always has been his issue and seemingly always will be. While there isn’t as much of a premium placed on putting this week because of slower greens, he may still have to hit it close. Super close.

What will be the winning score?

HOGGARD: 10 under. The last two Opens played at Carnoustie were won with 7-under and 6-over totals, but this week’s conditions will favor more aggressive play and lower scores. Expect to see plenty of birdies, but the great equalizer will come on Sunday when wind gusts are forecast to reach 25 mph.

LAVNER: 15 under. An Open at Carnoustie has never produced a winner lower than 9 under (Tom Watson in 1975), but never have the conditions been this susceptible to low scores. Sure, the fairway bunkers are still a one-shot penalty, but today’s big hitters can fly them. The thin, wispy rough isn’t much of a deterrent. And the wind isn’t expected to really whip until the final day.

BAGGS: 12 under. We aren’t going to see the same kind of weather we have previously witnessed at Carnoustie, and that’s a shame. Any players who catch relatively benign conditions should be able to go low, as long as they can properly navigate the fairway rollout.

COFFIN: 14 under. Walked into a local golf shop in the town of Carnoustie wearing a Golf Channel logo and the man behind the counter said, “It’ll take 14 under to win this week.” Well, he’s been here for years and seen Carnoustie host The Open twice before. He knows more about it than I do, so I’ll stick with his number.

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Watch: Na plays backwards flop and practices lefty

By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 3:16 pm

Fresh off his victory at The Greenbrier, Kevin Na is taking a quite-literally-backwards approach to his Open prep.

Caddie Kenny Harms has been sharing videos of Na's early work at Carnoustie.

This one shows Na standing in a bunker and playing a flop shot over his own head (as opposed to someone else's):

While it's unlikely he'll have a need for that exact shot this week, it's far more likely a player may have to think about turning his club over and playing from the wrong side of the ball, like so:

Na has made 4 of 6 cuts at The Open and will look to improve on his best career finish, currently a T-22 in 2016 at Royal Troon.

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McIlroy growing 'comfortable' on Open courses

By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 1:45 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For a player who once complained about the vagaries of links golf, Rory McIlroy enters this Open with a dazzling record in the sport’s oldest championship.

Though he missed the 2015 event because of an ankle injury, McIlroy has now posted three consecutive top-5 finishes in the year’s third major.

“It’s surprising a little bit that my best form in major championships has been this tournament,” he said Wednesday, “but at the same time I’ve grown up these courses, and I’m comfortable on them. I think going to courses on The Open rota that I’ve played quite a lot. I think that helps. You have a comfort level with the golf course, and you’ve built up enough experience to know where to hit and where not to hit it.”

Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

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McIlroy still regrets what happened in 2015, when he “did something slightly silly” and injured his ankle while playing soccer a few weeks before the event. That came a year after he triumphed at Royal Liverpool.

“Since 2010, I couldn’t wait to play The Open at St. Andrews,” he said. “I thought that was one of my best chances to win a major.”

He tied for 42nd at Carnoustie in 2007, earning low-amateur honors.