Q&A with Sergio Garcia and Tommy Fleetwood

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Sergio Garcia

Ahead of this week’s THE PLAYERS Championship, which sees the world’s Top 50 players battle it out at TPC Sawgrass, Florida, we’ve got exclusive quotes from Sergio Garcia and Tommy Fleetwood as they both prepare for the big tournament.

SERGIO GARCIA

What does it take to win THE PLAYERS?
Well, to win THE PLAYERS Championship, it’s one of those weeks where you have to be patient. Your game has to be on and it’s a very demanding golf course. So, you just have to be patient, very positive and just kind of have that week where you really feel it and you’re very, very consistent throughout the whole week.

How have you seen the tournament grow since you won (in 2008)?
I think THE PLAYERS Championship has grown immensely. 10-15 years ago, it was massive and it’s kept growing and growing. I think the PGA Tour has done a great job of making it our premier championship and it’s one of those championships that you always look forward to going back to.

Do you ever find challenges that are different every year and what is it about Sawgrass that makes it so difficult?
Sawgrass is one of my favourite golf courses. It’s the kind of course that is asking you to hit proper shots throughout the whole week, so you know if the weather is good it gets firm. With some of the changes and everything, you have to be very precise on your shots to the greens. It’s very important to hit fairways, if you don’t hit the fairways you’re struggling to even hold the greens and can forget about getting it close. So, it’s the kind of golf course that demands you to play really good golf.

What about the 17th? You got a hole in one there last year. What is it about that hole that makes it so special?
17 is a mix of everything that makes up for a great golf hole. It’s obviously very challenging even though it’s only 125 or 140 yards, but the beauty of it, is that even being that distance that you average, it’s still very difficult to hit it close and you still see big numbers there, so if you’re just a little bit off, you can go from making a 2 to making a 5 or a 6 very easily. And being towards the end of the round makes it even more exciting. I’ve been fortunate to have some really amazing moments. Obviously last year with a hole in one on the first round and in 2008 with a tee shot I hit in the play-off and a couple of putts that I made from the top on Sunday from the top of the green into that back right pin, so it’s been pretty good to me.

Do you take anything from other athletes and use it in your sport?
Not really. I think everybody is different, everybody’s mind clicks in a different way. It’s just a matter of seeing what works best for you. I’ve always said what works for me doesn’t mean that it’s going to work for the next guy on the other side of the street, so it’s important to see exactly what makes you tick and I just try to use it in the best way possible.

Any other athletes that inspire you?
I’ve been a big fan of soccer and I’ve always been a big fan of Brazilian Ronaldo, for example. He loves his golf and obviously we have some really good players all over the world that we can watch in different leagues, not only the Spanish league but in England and even the US, you have some new players coming through with a lot of talent, so it’s fun to watch some of them.

TOMMY FLEETWOOD

What does it mean to represent England?
Representing your country is the height of what you can do, in my opinion. I loved it as an amateur playing in team events and playing for my country and wearing a shirt with the flag on, and so anywhere I go representing England is a very special thing for me.

What would it mean for you to be the first Englishman to win the Players?
The event itself is just something that you want on your CV. No doubt about it, you can name the events that are the big ones in world golf and THE PLAYERS is right up there. To be the first Englishman [to win] would be a massive added bonus, but just THE PLAYERS Championship itself is THE PLAYERS Championship! Just to have that would be amazing.

Where does THE PLAYERS sit alongside the other Majors?
You have the Majors and the WGCs I guess and THE PLAYERS is [right up] there. It’s just one of those events. The Majors will always be the Majors and then once you stop at them, you’ve got THE PLAYERS and the WGCs which are all held just as high as each other.

THE PLAYERS is a true test competing against the world’s best?
Small fields are usually the best players in the world and it’s just more chances to test your game against the elite, against the best and it’s almost like a tour within itself a little bit when you get to these events. Part of it is just to show that you’ve played great golf and the other part, whether you do well or you don’t, it’s that extra motivation that you want to be here again. These are the events that you want to be playing and competing in and you want to be winning them. It’s a massively motivating thing as well.

How do you relax off the course? What do you do for fun?
I have a young family so that’s kind of the greatest thing for me. Since getting married and having a baby boy, there’s nothing that comes close to taking your mind off golf like that. I like reading, I like music and I just do the general stuff that we can do travelling really, but those are my main interests.

Do you watch other sports?
I do yeah – I like watching sports as no matter what sport it is, you can relate to something that the guys are doing, so I enjoy that because you have that passion and that desire and you have those nerves that those guys are having on TV, so it’s nice to relate. And I like most sports really.

If you weren’t a golfer, what do you think you’d be doing?
I don’t know, I was quite good at drama at school so I would’ve given acting or something like that a go, as that was the only thing I was interested in at the time.

So, Everton is your team – considering the start to the season, do you think this season has been a success?
No, it’s been poor really. We started the season with a lot of hope because we had new owners and were spending more money than we’d ever done, but it’s just not turned out that way. Every time we seem to get a bit of momentum we just follow up with some disappointing performances. So it seems like there’s a lot of work to do before we get moving to where we want to go, but it’s encouraging to have money to spend that we’ve never really had, but at the same time the season’s been really disappointing.

Watch THE PLAYERS Championship exclusively live from 6pm on Thursday 10th May on Sky Sports Golf. For more information visit www.skysports.com and follow the action @PGATOUR on Twitter and Instagram.

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