BETH MURRISON: Good morning, and thank you again for joining us at the 2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage. We're honored to have with us this morning Sergio Garcia. We've just discussed that he is playing in his 10th U.S. Open. In 2002 at Bethpage he finished fourth. Can you talk a little bit about being back at Bethpage this week.
SERGIO GARCIA: It's great. The course, there was a couple new tees here and there. But it's pretty much taken away a couple of changes and maybe a couple of greens.
It looks very similar to where it was. It's very wet, so it's playing very, very long. But the rough is a little bit different than what it was in 2002. We have this two or three layers of cut rough. If you miss the fairway five or six yards, you can pretty much get it on the green or around the green every time. So it looks good.
BETH MURRISON: Questions.
Q. What are your emotions about coming back here, because obviously it was a great performance but also a controversial performance with the fans. Can you describe what you feel about that?
SERGIO GARCIA: I'm really looking forward to it. I think we know that New York and New Yorkers are very passionate. And the only thing I can say is I've been very fortunate to do very well here in this area. I love New York. I love the people around here. And I'm just looking forward to see where I can go this week.
2002 was a good experience. I played well. I actually had a decent chance at winning this championship. So I'm looking forward to doing the same.
Q. Obviously you've got control over your pre‑shot routine. Did your experience then lead you to do that or have any effect on what you did as far as changing?
SERGIO GARCIA: I didn't catch ‑‑
Q. Did your experience in 2002 have any effect on you as far as changing your pre‑shot routine and getting it under control?
SERGIO GARCIA: No. Well, like I said then, it was just a comfort thing more than anything. So the unfortunate thing was that I didn't have any time to ‑‑ as soon as I had like two or three weeks off, just before the British Open, that's when I was able to fix it because I had time to work on it. When you go tournament to tournament, it's tough to go from one stream to another. So that was pretty much it.
Q. I know they cut the rough back some, but what is it about the rough here that makes it so difficult on this course in particular?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, it's a very strong kind of grass. And at the same time, like I said before, it's very wet. So because of all the rain, you know, it gets very heavy. And even though the rough is not that thick, as you just miss the fairway, it's still tricky to advance it as far as you need to advance it to get to some of these greens.
A lot of these par‑4s you're in the range of 180 to 200, 220 yards. Even from not a lot of rough, it's not easy to get it to the greens. You can get it around, though.
Q. Even if you get it in the big stuff?
SERGIO GARCIA: If you get it on the big stuff, hopefully you'll manage to come out of there alive.
Q. Do people in the clubhouse or the locker room, all the players, do they assume Tiger Woods is the favorite to win this tournament?
SERGIO GARCIA: No ‑‑ well, I have been very little in the locker room. So we just got here yesterday and this morning we were early. There weren't many people there.
We know that he's playing well. He obviously played very well couple weeks back at Memorial. So he's definitely one of the favorites, yeah.
Q. Going back seven years ago, a lot was said at the time about crowd behavior. Some players said it was a sign of how bad things had gotten. In the seven years since then, how has this kind of trend developed?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I think it's definitely changed a little bit. I think that the course is still long, but they've done some things to make it a little bit more playable. And with the new, I don't know, the way they've been doing it the last ‑‑ I think it's three years or so with different levels of ‑‑
Q. I was talking about the fan behavior, the crowd behavior.
SERGIO GARCIA: No, I think it will be fine. I can't ‑‑
Q. Overall in the last seven years, how has crowd behavior changed on the TOUR?
SERGIO GARCIA: Okay, okay. Sorry. Well, I think that it's obviously changed. There's no doubt that more than anything Tiger has brought a lot of people into the game that maybe don't even play golf.
So it's changed. But I think it's changed in a good way. I think that it's made the game bigger, and we're all very proud and happy to try to help our game, which is the game of golf, to become even better around the world.
Q. There's been a lot of talk about how moving the tee boxes up is going to make a lot more risk‑reward holes and some new bunkers are going to make risk‑reward holes, as well, different from 2002. When you were practicing did you notice those things, and are you going to adjust your game plan on certain holes this year as opposed to 2002?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I played the back nine, and I didn't really notice much. I wasn't really looking much into it because I don't know what they could really do on those holes to make them play differently.
But I did see a couple different tees here and there on the par‑5, for example. But I guess it depends. With the weather not being good, they could probably move it around a little bit. So we'll have to wait and see how that works out.
Q. You play with a lot of emotion. Your emotion, your temperament, it can be an asset. Sometimes it seems it could be a detriment as far as how you're perceived. Do you see your makeup, your temperament is something that hurts or helps you and how do you evolve as you get near 30?
SERGIO GARCIA: Thanks for reminding me. (Laughter.) Very close to 30 now. No, I've always said it. I am the way I am, but I think that's what people love about me, because this is what you get, unfortunately both in a good and a bad way.
I think as you get older, you learn from things you've done in the past, and you try to mature from those things. But like I said before, I am the way I am, and I can change a little bit, but not too much, because then I wouldn't be myself.
Q. Spanish sports seems like in a great moment like Barcelona, the Spanish National Team, Contador in the cycling, Nadal, of course. What about golf, and do you feel a little bit left behind and what is Spain having this great moment in all this? Is there a reason?
SERGIO GARCIA: I don't know. I guess there have been some good work done around Spain, around sportsmen, and obviously Gasol winning the ring a couple nights ago. So it's great. It's great to see all these things happening.
I think that Spanish golf has been pretty good. I had a decent year last year, and we've had some good players come around throughout the years. So we shouldn't complain too much.
I think we're just fortunate that there's been a lot of good work done in Spain on the sports side, and I think it's showing up with all the things you said.
Q. You seemed to lack confidence when you were interviewed at THE PLAYERS about the state of your game and just about how you were playing generally. How did it get to that point and has it improved since then?
SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, I feel much better. I think I'm obviously looking forward to playing a bit more now and I can see that the things I'm working with, with my dad and Stan, they're doing good.
It's not easy. But at least if you are looking forward to working on it and trying to get better, it always helps. The reasons why I got there, there were different ones. A couple of personal things happened, and that didn't help.
Then obviously you lose a little bit of confidence, and it's harder to recover from that. But the good thing is it's moving forward. I'm looking forward to the challenges. So it's good.
Q. Could you talk about 15, what makes 15 so hard, and in general the stretch, 15, 16, 17, and 18?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I think that it's just four really good finishing holes. For example, today on 15, I didn't hit a bad drive, just hit it in the second cut of rough, which is not bad. And still early in the morning. You still have 195 yards.
So playing uphill, it's tough to hit a 4‑iron out of the rough because it's coming out soft and wet. It's tough to hit a 4‑iron that goes high enough and carries all the way there. If you hit like a chippy 5‑wood then it comes in a little bit too hot and it can go through the green and then leave a very tough chip.
So that green is probably one of the most difficult ones on the course. So I think it's important to make sure that you hit a decent drive. And if not, somehow get lucky and manage to hit it on that green.
And then 16, it's a long par‑4. So as soft as it's playing, you're going to hit long irons into that green. So it never makes it that easy.
17 is another long par‑3. You can hit in the range of 5‑, 4‑iron, something like that, to a very big green. A lot of different pin positions.
And then 18 is probably the easiest of the four holes. Because you hit ‑‑ you can hit like a 5‑wood off the tee and hit an 8‑ or a 7‑iron in. I'll say that's probably the easiest of the four. But it's a tough stretch. There's not that many easy holes out there.
Q. I just want to get your thoughts on Seve and when was the last contact you've had with him and what he's meant to your career and your life.
SERGIO GARCIA: Seve has been doing, from what I've seen, he's been doing great. I haven't really had the chance of talking to him. We've talked to some of his family members back when he was recovering from all the surgeries and stuff. But it seems like he's doing very good. He's done two or three interviews, and it seems like he's doing well.
We talked to Olazabal and he chatted with him and he said he was looking nice.
So it's good to see that seems like he's recovering nicely, and we're looking forward to seeing him around sometime.
Q. Given what the U.S. Open demands, in order for a player to win it, is there a player out there that is a prototypical U.S. Open player? Does that player even exist?
SERGIO GARCIA: I don't know. I think that you always look at Tiger because he's been so dominant. But I think for U.S. Open, probably the perfect kind of player would be a good driver of the ball, somebody that is consistent with his long game. You still have to be pretty decent around the greens, because it doesn't matter how well you play, you're going to miss some greens.
A good up‑and‑down there, it can really keep your round going. So I don't know if I could choose the perfect prototype for it. It would probably be a mix of some different players. But Geoff Ogilvy seems to do well in this kind of tournament. So, I don't know, I guess we'll see.
Q. Based on your result in '02, do you feel any additional pressure now that it's back here? And do you feel any pressure just because of representing your country, with how what was mentioned earlier, how Spain sports are on a rise? Is there any additional pressure?
SERGIO GARCIA: Not really. I don't think so. I think that every week we come out here to play our best and have a chance at winning. So if you take it that way, I guess there will be pressure every week.
So I think that there's no doubt that it's the U.S. Open and it's a major and we always want to do well in this kind of event. But at the same time you still are trying to just play your own game, and hopefully that takes you to where you want to be.
So I don't think so. And on the second question, like I said before, I'm just proud to be a Spaniard and I try my best, and the better things I can do for my country, the prouder I feel.
Q. What were your impressions of the 7th hole and what do you think will be the best way to attack that in the coming week, and will that change depending on the weather?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, the only memories I have from the 7th hole is from 2002. So I haven't seen it yet this year. I'm going to play it as soon as you guys let me get out of here.
But I do remember, it was like a little bit of a dogleg right. I don't know if it's changed much or not. So we'll see. I gotta take a good look at it.
Q. Before you go, Paul Casey was in earlier, and he didn't seem entirely comfortable at being No. 3 in the world. You had a shot at No. 1 earlier. Do you think it's possible to feel really comfortable as one of the very best players until you've won the first major?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I don't know. I think that Tiger feels comfortable. I think Phil feels comfortable. I felt comfortable when I was in that situation. I don't know. I guess it's something to ask Paul if he's feeling comfortable or not. I think he's playing great. So he should be pretty happy about that.
And on my side, I'm looking forward to getting back on the horse and see if we can have some good solid weeks and get back to where my game should be. So hopefully we will.
Q. You mentioned 30's not too far off now. Is it something you're getting more hung up on or are you able to put aside the thoughts of a first major and make it happen?
SERGIO GARCIA: That's what I'm here for, to try to win it. So if I didn't think it was possible I would probably be back at home watching Borriol or something like that.
So I'm looking forward to the challenge. That's why we practice. And when we go out there we try our hardest. Sometimes it comes out all right, sometimes it doesn't. But we're always trying our best.
Q. You were talking about turning 30 and it's been almost 10 years since Medinah and you sort of introduced yourself to a lot of people. Does it seem like 10 years?
SERGIO GARCIA: Definitely been 10 years.
Q. How do you assess where you are in terms of those 10 years, and does it even seem longer than that sometimes?