Sergio Garcia and Paul Casey ahead of The International Series at Fairmont St Andrews

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(Fairmont St Andrews, Scotland, 23 August 2023)

Press Conference Transcript c/o Performance54

Sergio Garica and Paul Casey will tee it up tomorrow in the first outing for the Asian Tour in Scotland. They both touch on the week ahead, The International Series and the challenge of the Torrance course at Fairmont, St Andrews.

I’m delighted to welcome Sergio Garcia and Paul Casey. First question, Paul have your golf clubs arrived?

Paul Casey: Thanks to British Airways. We flew in via Heathrow yesterday. I’m not going to go on about it, but they finally showed up. Thank you to Martin Grey, who left North Berwick this morning via an Edinburgh Airport and picked them up by hand.

Did you play the course this morning?

Paul Casey: Yeah, I missed my pro-am this morning [due to clubs not arriving]. I got seven holes in, played the last seven. My Pro-Am group and TK [Ratchanon Chantananuwat] joined his group and really liked what I saw. It’s my first time playing this golf course. I’m going to get some more golf in this afternoon and get some more practice in so although I’ve been delayed on preparation, it’s not going to get in the way, it just means today’s a slightly longer day.

And how’s the game?

Paul Casey: It’s alright, I’ve been battling injuries. My last appearance was at Bedminster a couple of weeks ago and Greenbrier before that for LIV. While the scores haven’t been what I’ve wanted, I feel I’m getting somewhere with the injuries. I’ve not got much golf left this year, if you look at it on paper, but I’m very keen to make what I can to save this year, and try to get something out of it. I am very much keen this week to try and get another victory on the Asian Tour.

You have played Asian Tour past two decades; does it feel quite strange to be an event here in Scotland?

Paul Casey: Never thought about it because we’ve [Paul Casey & Sergio Garcia] played multiple tours, I’ve won on five tours around the world. Quite often those tours are not necessarily in the location of the title of the tour. It’s never bothered me. I love the fact that we’re in Scotland. I’ve always enjoyed my time at St Andrews and while we’re just a little bit down the road from the Old Course itself, every golf course I’ve ever played here is has been exceptional and this has been no exception to that.

Sergio, you played this morning. How’s the game and how was the course looking?

Sergio Garcia: The course was looking good. I did have my clubs, so I was able to play my full round. The course looks good. It’s in great shape, obviously a little soft for a links golf course, other than that, it’s nice. Today was nice day, weather was nice it wasn’t too windy. I can see that this course, if it gets windy it can tighten up a lot. Some of those fairways that look fairly wide, with 15/20-mile an hour winds, they become a lot narrower. Solid golf course. I’m excited about it. I’m excited about the week and hopefully I can keep working on what I’m doing. Keep building a little bit on commitment and confidence and see how the week goes.

Surprisingly you haven’t won in Scotland before as a professional. Is that something you’d like to achieve this week?

Sergio Garcia: Yeah, that would be nice. I’ve been close a few times. Once as an amateur, but as a professional individually, I haven’t. It’s something that obviously I would love to have the possibility of changing this weekend and I’ll give it my best shot.

A question to both Sergio and Paul, did you ever think in your wildest dreams, you would be coming here to St Andrews to playing and Asian Tour event?

Sergio Garcia: Like Paul said, it’s something that you don’t really think about, because we play in so many places, and on so many different tours. I think at the end of the day that the game is a global game so I think that’s the way I look at it and the European Tour [DP World Tour] plays everywhere, it’s playing in in a lot of spots now, even the PGA Tour played a little bit outside the US. I see it as a positive and something nice and it just shows how global our game is.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing young golfers at the moment? How important is something like the International Series to those players?

Sergio Garcia: I mean, I think there’s pros and cons, when it comes down to that. The youngsters nowadays are much better prepared, they’re strong, they hit the ball very far, and things like that. We have also a lovely experience that also comes with something. There’s just pros and cons of everything. At the end of the day, I obviously speak for myself, but I’m sure that Paul feels the same way. You know, we’re playing at our highest level. We’re not afraid of anyone, it doesn’t matter if he’s young or old.

Paul Casey: I agree with Sergio. I think it’s wonderful how many opportunities there are right now. My first thought went the fact that the level of golf nowadays, is so high, and how the game has developed, Sergio’s been on tour longer than I have, we’ve weathered the advances in technology, the way the data is now driving the game, the way we practice, the way we train. Going from steel shafts to graphite shafts, to different golf ball technology, launch monitors. The guys who’ve had longevity of career paths combat those challenges, and I don’t think it’s any different now.

Playing with TK today, I’ll say that I’m using him as an example. The first time I played with him was 14, he’s only 16 now, the golf ball could change. We don’t know, he might have a challenge and in couple of years’ time, there might be some other technical regulation that changes. These are all things that these kids are going to have to face but ultimately, it’s the level they’re going to have to get to because I think the standard of golf is higher, but say Tiger is the best I’ve ever seen, I haven’t seen any player better than Tiger, not on a consistent level. This certainly more depth. So that’s the biggest challenge that young kids face getting to that level.

What’s your experience of Andy Ogletree and supporting the prospect of joining the league next year?

Paul Casey: I can speak as part of Crushers GC, he stood in for Anirban Lahiri when he was away for personal reasons in Florida at beginning of this year, maybe somewhere else he played as well, and he played great. I don’t remember his scores, but I know he contributed and I think he outplayed me that week. I love the opportunity that the guys have here, the big carrot that’s being dangled and Andy’s grabbed it by two hands. There was a little bit written about how he struggled after Centurion [LIV Golf London], his first appearance. But he’s so young, and had very good amateur career. He’s finding his feet now proving how good he is. I think he, wherever he slots in Sergio might know more than I, because you’re a captain and I’m not, and you go to meetings and I don’t. But how he really fits into LIV next year, I think he’s going to be an asset and he’ll be highly sought after.

Sergio Garcia: He’s a great kid. He’s overcome some problems that he had with his game early on, but he’s been playing very nicely for a while now. It’s good to see him doing well. It looks like he’s going to be with us next year. We’ll see where he goes and we’ll see how he plays there [on LIV Golf].

Golfing history will be made this week, first ever Asian Tour event on Scottish soil. How exciting is it for you to be to be part of that?

Sergio Garcia: It is very exciting. That’s one of the reasons why we’re here. I’ve always enjoyed playing in Scotland. I love the crowds here and it’s nice to see everyone. I didn’t have to come and play this week but I wanted to because it really drives me to come here and play and in front of these great crowds that we always have here. I’m excited about it and we’ll give it our best.

Was that a main motivator for you Paul, playing in front of the Scottish crowds?

Paul Casey: Very much so, Sergio just said, we have a choice as to where we play. I thought about last week, I didn’t do it, because it was my baby girls first day of school last week and family, for me, it’s a priority right now. The Asian Tour has seen such growth. It’s really sort of stamps down how it’s evolved and how it’s progressed, and how important it is. The energy that’s out on tour, having played a lot of golf around the world for 20 plus years, it’s interesting when I played a couple events earlier this season, there’s a real energy now in the Asian Tour which we both feel and know all the other players feel as well. Finally, St. Andrews, I love it. My first victory as a professional was in Scotland at Gleneagles back in 2001. I’ve always had a soft spot to play in Scotland and I’d love to win the Championship this week.

How much would you like to see this being the first of many Asian Tour events being played in Scotland?

Paul Casey: I’m all for as much growth as possible on this tour, keep adding, adding, adding, and obviously find the right places to visit. This is not just about just adding events or guests, this is about really what fits for two things, the membership, but the fans as well, and how these fits into the world of golf. They’re solidifying their position and showing what a force they are. Energetic and still very young. It feels like a young tour, certainly when you look at who’s playing on it and the enthusiasm out there. The future is very, very bright for the Asian Tour.

Sergio, how much would you like to see this be a sort of catalyst for further Asian Tour events in Scotland?

Sergio Garcia: It’s the beginning and every little thing helps. Like Paul said, we can have an opinion, but we aren’t the ones making the decision. It would be nice, but at the same time there’s other places that I’m sure that the Tour wants to go, and you’ve got to find what fits best for everyone and the Tour. It’s good to be here and I’m sure that it’s going to be a great week and you never know maybe they’ll add one or two here and there, so we’ll see.

How much would you like to be getting your hands the trophy?

Sergio Garcia: That’s one of the reasons, actually that’s the main reason why we’re here to play the best we can and have a chance at getting a hold of this beautiful trophy on Sunday. We’re going to give it a best shot to try and do it.

Paul, what would it mean to you?

Paul Casey: Every victory is very, very special. My first was 2001, spanning more than 20 years, I’d like to get one I’d like to beat Sergio as well and he would like to beat me.

If you win the International Series Order of Merit, you are automatically promoted to the LIV Golf League next year. How good an opportunity is that what’s it like to play on LIV?

Sergio Garcia: It’s a wonderful opportunity, for us where we’re kind of secure there so we don’t need achieve that International Series Order of Merit, but at the same time, it’s fun to play some of them and see the quality of players out here and the quality of the golf courses. To have the possibility of playing LIV, it’s something that not many players get, only 48, or maybe a handful more. You have to be very thankful for that, you have to respect it and enjoy it as much as possible. We made a strong move when things came around, and we’re very happy to be where we are and giving everything, we have to help our teams and our teammates, and ourselves too.

Paul Casey: All the golf I played through years all over the world, it’s interesting for a couple of reasons. The limited number of spots gives it this edge, you can sense already. I think last year nobody’s really seen it yet, there hasn’t been a lot of movement. But you know, after this season, the seasons after that, you’re going to see movement guys in and out and a lot of scrambling and fighting for the position. It’s something to be cherished, it’s quite an opportunity, and the fact that it’s just the 48 guys who tee it up and seeing the same guys week in, week out, it creates this level of competition that there’s nowhere to hide.

When playing some of the tours I played through the years, you can pick kind of a softer weeks, you can pick the weaker fields, but here there is nowhere to hide. If somebody gets on a burner, I think that’s it, you’ve got to just get on with it and figure out how to get your game in shape and that’s a really interesting dynamic. For guys out here who have the opportunity to break through, they know how big it is. You can sense it and I know how excited Andy Ogletree is, and kudos to him for being in that strong position and winning last week. It’s going to be everything for a lot of guys. For me, it’s just it’s wonderful to be part of that.

I know you played in Vietnam [International Series Vietnam] as well Paul, it was the first International Series tournament you played in. What was it like actually taking part in an International Series event? Is it making you excited for this week?

Paul Casey: Very much so. I think that was a little bit selfish of me that week because I’ve never been to Vietnam and just wanted to go. There was a little bit of a double reasons for being there and I thoroughly enjoyed it and love the place, great golf course. Having played Asian events before, and then suddenly stepping into an International Series, yes, there’s a heightened level across the board, that is palpable although I’ve literally just only been on site few hours, I can sense it again this week. I think that’s something that’s just going to continue on a positive trajectory.

You said this is your first time in Fairmont, what are you expecting?

Paul Casey: It’s my first time on the golf course, I’ve stayed in this hotel many times, we used play down the road. I have driven down his driveway probably 100 plus times and always looked at the course and wonder what it’s like. As Sergio says a little soft as the only thing that’s going to hold it back this week, like if it was dry and it was windy, it could be a hell of a test. Having said that, the architecture is really solid, and you still got to hit your golf ball and hit quality shots. I expect the scoring to be pretty good, just because of the softness the greens are bumpy. Whoever wins this is playing stellar golf.

There’s a few up-and-coming Spanish players, like last week, we had David Puig, finish in the top five, can you touch on that and the way Spanish golf is going at the moment?

Sergio Garcia: Like Andy Ogletree, David has been playing wonderfully. He came out last year and played a handful of events at LIV and it was a big experience for him. Obviously, it was a little bit nervous for him, a little bit uncomfortable playing with all of us but you can see that this year, he’s already grown a lot. He’s gained a lot of experience has been playing nicely. He’s played a few good LIV events. Some good International Series too. You can see that he’s grown a lot as a player and as a person. For me as a Spaniard, it’s nice to see more and more young Spanish players coming out and doing well.

I know how passionate you are about Europe and European Ryder Cup team, but in a bigger, blending picture between the Tour, how important you think it would be for Brooks Koepka to be picked next week? .

Sergio Garcia: To be totally honest, I don’t know. Obviously, I know about the European team. That’s where we’ve been a part of and I think that he’s definitely played well enough to be a part of it. But we don’t have a say there or anything like that, first of all, he’s part of the other team and second of all, Zach Johnson is the one that is making those picks. So, he’ll pick whatever he thinks is best for his team.

Press Transcript c/o Performance54