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An Interview with: SERGIO GARCIA and SØREN HANSEN
KELLY ELBIN: European Ryder Cup veteran and European Ryder Cup rookie, Sergio García and Søren Hansen, joining us.
SERGIO GARCIA: Who is the rookie and who is the veteran?
KELLY ELBIN: Sergio García is the veteran, having played in four previous Ryder Cups; therefore this will be his fifth. He was second on the world points list this year and has a career record of 14, 4 and 2 in Ryder Cup including an 8 for 8 in foursomes.
Søren, this is your first Ryder Cup appearance. Sergio, start with you, please. Just your thoughts of being a veteran on this team and what took place out there today.
SERGIO GARCIA: No, it's great. The best thing is being a part of the team. Doesn't matter if you're a veteran or a rookie or what you are. And I think that's what we all feel. We all are very comfortable with each other's company. We are loving every minute of it. We had a good day today. Played with Lee and Søren this morning, and the course is looking very nice.
Everybody has been telling us the past week or two that they had trouble with the heat and that it was looking a little bit thin on grass, but it looks great. I thought I saw the course very nicely, and just looking forward to get started and hopefully get some good matches going.
KELLY ELBIN: Thank you. Søren, talk about your first day in a Ryder Cup uniform.
SERGIO GARCÍA: It was fantastic. It was a great feeling. Playing with Sergio and Westwood always lifts your game a little bit, and the way Sergio played today was mind blowing, really. He took all of the skins, all the money, unfortunately.
SERGIO GARCIA: It's Tuesday. But I like what I see on the golf course. It's a great course. I think it suits the European style of play, as well. There's a few tee shots that are keys, and I'm really pleased. I like what I see and I'm looking forward to this Ryder Cup.
Q. Question for both of you guys. We saw you all go out together as a team to the first tee this morning and have a chat there. Sergio, what did you have to say about your experiences in the past there? And Søren, did you learn and benefit anything from listening to the other guys there?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I got there and I said, "This is a dogleg left." (Laughter).
No, it was Nick's idea, Captain, and he thought it would be nice to kind of all get together there and kind of try to visualize what the week is going to be and what we are going to try to achieve.
It was great. It was great to have everybody there and kind of talking a little bit about our feelings and things like that, and you know, it was short. It was probably like three or four minutes, but they were very intense.
And Søren, he thinks the same.
SØREN HANSEN: Pretty much, really.
Well, you saw the first tee shot, it's something that everybody talks about. You've got to get some pressure off your chest and it's a good thing to see firsthand, and to be honest, there's not much to say about it really. As Sergio said, it's a dogleg left and there's a bit of room on the right. You don't want to go on the left and there's a few trees.
You know, it was nice just to see it, and it was a good team moment, and that's what it's all about. I think that it's going to help on Friday when that first shot is going to be hit.
Q. Four years ago when Tiger and Phil played together, it was a real flash point for The European Team when they went out and beat them. This year, they are starting with foursomes instead of the four balls, and with your record in that format and your record in The Ryder Cup, do you kind of feel like you might have that American target on your back to be the guy that maybe could be the catalyst if they could knock off you?
SERGIO GARCIA: Four years ago, it was foursomes, too. Yeah, Tiger and Phil played foursomes. Phil hit it left, and then he had to drop and Tiger hit four years ago, yeah.
KELLY ELBIN: It was four balls.
SERGIO GARCIA: Was it? All right.
I don't know, I think I can't speak for the American Team. I think we are looking forward to the challenge on The European Team. To me, it doesn't make a difference. I've always said it, and I say it from the bottom of my heart; I would rather go 0 and 5 and win The Ryder Cup as a team than go 5 and 0 and lose it.
To me, it's not about me this week. It's about the European Team and coming together and achieving our goal and obviously playing well and retaining the Cup. That's all that matters to me.
Q. Is there anything that has surprised you on or off the course about being a member of a Ryder Cup Team?
SØREN HANSEN: No, it's been a thrill so far, great experience. I can't wait for Friday, to be honest with you. As I said to some of the other guys, it's something you dream about for your whole life and all of a sudden you're standing there. No, it feels great and it's a great atmosphere. I said to Sergio today on one of the holes, I said, "Where is all the spectators?"
"Oh, they will come, they will come."
I can't wait to tee off really. I can't wait to get the show going to be honest.
Q. Sergio, I seem to remember your closing words two years ago were something like, "There's something sweeter than beating the Americans." Have you found anything sweeter, and what is it about The Ryder Cup if you haven't?
SERGIO GARCÍA: In The Ryder Cup, that is the goal, so there's nothing better than doing that, because that's what we have to beat, to retain the Cup.
Like I said, like I've always said, one of the things I love about The Ryder Cup is how everybody comes together, how much better you get to know some of your teammates. Everybody kind of loosens up and opens up, and it's a single week where you learn more things about your teammates than any other week. Even though you might be friends with one or two, in a Ryder Cup, all the emotions come out, and it's just great to leave it once in awhile.
Q. Everyone talks about the pressure of this event, and looking at your record, you've obviously found a way to handle that, thrive on it, whatever. How have you done that? What exactly have you been able to do?
SERGIO GARCIA: I've just had very good partners.
SØREN HANSEN: He is quite good, you know. He is quite a good player.
SERGIO GARCIA: It's just enjoying the moment. Like I said before, I've had very good partners. Every single one of the partners I've played with, they have played very nicely, so that always helps.
Just enjoying the moment and, you know, living it to the fullest. It's just a chance we get every two years; it's not that often. So you've just got to try your hardest, and hopefully you perform the best way you know how to perform.
Q. Do you think you get under the Americans' skin a little bit, and do you try to do that, and do you think that is effective in this sort of team format?
SERGIO GARCIA: Do I try to do what?
Q. Do you think you get under the American players' skin a little bit, maybe get under them psychologically at all?
SERGIO GARCIA: You mean The European Team? Myself?
Q. You individually.
SERGIO GARCIA: In which way? Because I play well? (Laughter) Sorry, what can I say?
I'm trying as hard as everybody else, so I guess I've been just lucky. (Shrugging shoulders.)
Q. You've been on a number of teams that have had Monty and Darren, and Lee Westwood said that you're missing a player like a Langer on this year's team. A little bit of a different feel to your side for a change. How are you personally and the team as a whole, how are you guys trying to bond together with some of the new chemistry that you have this year?
SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, we are also missing Luke, which is a huge part of The European Team, too, and he has been for the past couple of Ryder Cups.
You know, it's the way it is. Ryder Cup is like this, and every year, somebody is going to be missing. Unfortunately this year, yeah, like you said, we have Monty which is not here. Unfortunately he has not played well enough to make the team.
Darren, he's played good, but you know, I don't know, maybe just a little bit too late or something. It's a shame. We're definitely going to miss them, all three of them. I think at the same time, the guys that have come in for them, they are awesome. They are great guys, they are unbelievable players. Some of the rookies, youngsters coming in, they are great and good fun to be around.
You know, you move on and you realize that the best 12 players are here, and you know, we've just got to go out there and show that we are.
Q. Of course we talk about you having Seve's heart and his guts and his charisma and so forth.
SERGIO GARCIA: Thank you.
Q. And José Maria came along. Have you talked to either one of them lately or frequently about The Ryder Cup?
SERGIO GARCIA: I talked to Olazábal right after the PGA, about three weeks ago, four weeks ago. No, just a little bit to see how he was doing. Obviously he's been struggling a little bit with health problems. You know, just to see him and tell him that I was looking forward to it. He was obviously very excited about it. And I saw him here yesterday, and we talked a little bit.
But you don't really talk much about Ryder Cups. I think you might talk about maybe a match here or there that you played together.
No, just trying to have fun and enjoy the moment and just have a couple laughs here and there.
Q. Just wondered if you had spoken to Thomas Björn about his experience at The Ryder Cup, and if so, any advice that you found particularly surprising.
SØREN HANSEN: Yeah, I've talked to Thomas a lot about Ryder Cup over the years. He's sort of I feed a bit on his experiences. He has been a good help, especially to this buildup to making the team. I talk to him quite frequently, to be honest with you.
Then last week, two weeks ago, when it was all done, and we spoke more about what's going to happen, you know, bond with the guys and what happens behind the scenes sort of thing. But you know, the whole buildup to get on to the team and qualify as one of the ten first players, he was a huge help.
And then, obviously, you get all of the stories, how he got back at Valderrama, which has his first year. He was 4 down after five holes against Justin Leonard. He turned that around and got a halve. I've talked to Thomas about that.
Obviously, yeah, it's been a huge help in that manner, definitely.
Q. Question for Sergio. Mickelson was saying before that USA is without their No. 1 player, Woods. The recent record suggests that USA are very much the underdogs; does this heap the pressure on you, and will Team Europe thrive on it or how will you approach it?
SERGIO GARCIA: I don't think it changes at all. At the end of the day, we know everybody has been saying that. We know it's not going to be easy at all. The U.S. Team, obviously they are missing Tiger, but like Kelly said, obviously we are missing Monty, we are missing Clarke and we are missing Luke Donald.
I think it's going to be tough, and we have to realize that and we have to play as hard as we can. The first moment we think we're favorites and we're going to win easily, that's when we are going to feel it and we are going to struggle.
So I don't think being favorite, it's great, but it doesn't mean that you've won it. You've got to get on the horse and make sure you ride the right way.
Q. With Monty and Luke and Darren not here, do you feel like it's your responsibility to take over more of the leadership role of this team, and does Nick kind of feel that way; is he kind of leaning on you more? Do you get a sense of that from different Ryder Cups from your relationships with this captain versus other captains?
SERGIO GARCIA: You know, I don't. I'm not going to be any different than I've been in the years past. I'm here for the team. If any of the rookies or anybody feels like they need to talk to me in any subject, I'm always willing to.
But I'm not going to be I'm not going to kick my chest out and say I'm the leader of this team, no. There are 12 leaders on this team and the most important thing is that we are all together. To me, that's the key thing.
KELLY ELBIN: Sergio García and Søren Hansen, thank you very much.
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