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An Interview With: Sergio Garcia

JULIUS MASON: Sergio Garcia joining us at the 86th PGA Championship. Sergio is playing in his sixth PGA Championship.

Sergio, welcome. Some opening thoughts on what you think about Whistling Straits and we'll go to Q&A, please.

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, it's definitely going to be a tough course. If we have good weather and the course starts firming up, it's really going to be a tough challenge. So you've got to be very patient as you have to be in every major and just hope to play your best.

Q. Whenever the PGA starts, we see the clip of you running out that year you came out and challenging Tiger. For that reason does this championship have a special place in your heart?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, yeah, definitely. I think that the PGA Championship is always a tournament that you look forward to, mainly because you know how fair the courses play. You know how well everything is prepared, and of course, for me, as you said, for the past that I have on it. It's definitely a tournament that you always look forward to, and I'm hoping to have a good week here and hopefully get something going and give myself a chance. It's definitely going to be tough. But, you know, it should be fun.

Q. How does this course set up for your game, and particularly, what do you think of 17 and 18?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, if I play well, I think that it sets up perfectly. But you have to be on this week. You can't get away with wayward drives and bad second shots to the green. This course is so demanding that you know you have to be really on. If you don't, you're going to pay the price.

It's going to be a long week, so we know that. That's where patience is going to come into play. The more patient you can be, the easier it's going to make the week.

Par 17 and 18, I played them yesterday, hit 4-iron to the front pin on 17, and I hit a really good drive and a 4-iron on 18 to a middle to front pin. So it's going to be difficult. I only played the front nine today, but with the wind that was blowing today, it was blowing a bit harder, just a little bit of a different angle. You know, as I said before, it's not only 17 and 18. It's 4, 8, 9, I don't know, you can pretty much -- 12. 12 is a short hole, but whenever they get that pin on the back right, I mean, how do you get it there? I don't know.

It's just going to be difficult. But it's going to be tough for everybody and you've just got to realize that, so I think whoever stays more patient throughout the week is the guy who is going to have a good chance of winning. So, we'll see what happens.

Q. Can you talk about Europeans in the PGA, haven't won it, but have come close, of course, and maybe any of your theories about that and how much it would mean to you to contend or to win the PGA Championship?

SERGIO GARCIA: To tell you the truth, I don't have any theories about that, so I don't know.

And second of all, you know, I'm looking forward to it. That's what I came here for, to hopefully give myself a chance of winning. We'll see what happens, but, you know, I'm going try my hardest and my best, and hopefully if I get my swing and my short game going, I feel like it's a course that I could do well on. I've always enjoyed tough courses, so this is one of them.

So if I can more or less control my ball flight and get a hold of my game, it should be a fun week.

Q. Is there any course back home that would compare to this or that you might have a comparable experience with?

SERGIO GARCIA: No. I don't think I've ever played anything as tough as this. I think this is definitely the toughest course I've ever played in my life.

Q. You keep on harping about the patience angle. Can we just track your patience over the last five years? If five years ago you were worth about five out of ten in patience, where are you at now?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I'll say when I came out, maybe my patience was on 1 or 2. I'm probably on 7, I'll say.

So I really think it has improved a lot. I think that there's room for a lot more improvement, but I really feel like I've matured a lot. I feel like I'm a lot more in control on the golf course. I don't get as high and low on the golf course as I used to. I think that has helped me get better.

You know, when you come to a major, that's where you're tested the most, that's where you have to be the strongest. We'll see if we can handle it this week.

Q. When you take the wind into factor here, do you see guys going pretty low? What do you envision the winning score being on Sunday?

SERGIO GARCIA: Pretty low, ball flight, you mean?

Q. Winning score actually.

SERGIO GARCIA: Not a chance. If it blows like -- for example, I played this morning. If it blows like it did this morning, just for a couple of days, I don't know. If it blows fairly firm like it's been blowing the last couple of days for the week, I don't see anybody breaking par here. We'll see. But that's what I see.

Q. With hindsight, would you have prepared any differently for Troon, if you took those three weeks off?

SERGIO GARCIA: I don't understand.

Q. Before Troon, you took three weeks off.

SERGIO GARCIA: Yes.

Q. In hindsight, was that the right thing to do to give yourself a chance?

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, I'd say so. Why not? You know, it's always going to come out to that. If you do well, it doesn't matter what you do, you always do the right thing. If for whatever reason you don't have the best of weeks and things just don't go your way and you don't do well, everybody is going to ask you why did you do that, why did you do this.

So I think that, you know, there's no difference.

When I won the Byron Nelson, I took three weeks off just before that, just before Wachovia, and I injured myself on the wrist, so I couldn't practice for those three weeks. I mean, I practiced two days in those three weeks, and then I went and I won Byron Nelson.

So I think that we feel whatever is best for us at the moment, and for me, this part of the year is when I feel -- this one and December is when I feel I can take a bit of time off because it's hard to play so much and under so much pressure every time. You know, once in awhile, you have to disconnect. Sometimes it's going to come out well and sometimes it's not, but, you know, I think that we all do it with the best of -- I don't know, the best of chances for us to do well on the tournaments we play.

Q. I'm guessing your swing changes have made you a better ball-striker. Are you now better -- is your game better equipped to handle maybe 30-mil-an-hour crosswinds that you might get here?

SERGIO GARCIA: I always feel like I've been a pretty decent wind player. I was actually disappointed the wind didn't blow as much at the British Open. I really would have enjoyed more a British Open the way it was playing on the Monday of the practice round. I've always enjoyed playing in the wind. Yeah, I think that my ball-striking has been getting better throughout the last year, so it should be fun to see hopefully a bit of wind coming out and see the course playing tough.

But it doesn't matter how well you strike the ball, you're going to miss greens here, because if you hit 3- or 4-irons to some of them, really small greens with crosswinds and danger all over the place, it's going to be tough. So, you know, you've just got to realize that.

Q. Do you think that the length of this course will knock out half of the field and length will be an advantage?

SERGIO GARCIA: I don't think it will knock off half of the field. As always in a major championship, your short game has to be on. I mean, if I'm hitting 4-irons to the greens, some guys are going to be hitting woods. But it doesn't make me hit the green because I'm hitting 4-iron. We're still going to miss greens, even the long hitters. So if you can manage to get it up-and-down a lot of the times and just get yourself going and making some good pars out there. I still think that you know a shorter hitter can still get it around and make some of those pars.

I really don't feel like it's going to take half of the field out.

Q. It seems like most of the players that came in here say that there really isn't an advantage to being a big hitter even though this is a very long course. Why do you think that is? And have we gotten to the point where maybe there are so many big hitters that there really isn't a big advantage anymore?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, maybe because what I said before, I think that everybody is going to miss greens here, it doesn't matter if you're a long hitter because you're still hitting long irons to these very narrow greens. Anybody can get it around the greens, and if you manage to get it up-and-down nicely a lot of the times, it doesn't matter if you're a long or short hitter; that's what it's where it's going to count the most.

And then, yeah, it looks like nowadays a lot more people can hit it far. It's definitely a bit of a difference there. You still have a bit of a difference between some players and some others. I think we have all gained a bit of distance.

At the end of the day, hitting straight is the most important thing, and if you don't hit it straight here, you're dead.

JULIUS MASON: Thanks for coming down, Sergio.

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