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“The first time that someone breaks your heart is when it hurts the most”

Posted on November 2009 (after Volvo World Match Play Finca Cortesin)
Sergio García sat last week with TENGOLF for the following interview. To mix it a little, and after many press conferences over the last few weeks (Madrid, Castellón, Casares…), we wanted to go beyond golf. But with Sergio, golf, actually, is everywhere.
After playing three weeks in Spain, you have repeatedly said in press conferences that 2009 has been a year of personal growth, more than as a golf player. Can you elaborate on this? What happened to you?…
It’s very simple. Honestly, I was in love for the first time in my life… I guess everyone goes through this. The first time that someone breaks your heart is when it hurts the most. Next time I’ll know better. Well, such is life and I don’t regret anything I did. It was beautiful, but when it’s over, is hard.
(He is talking about his relationship with Morgan Norman, that ended in the beginning of 2009).
Does a situation like affect so much your work?
I can’t speak for others. Everybody is different and experience things differently. The impact that it had on me, honestly, resulted in no desire to go out and play. And when I was out there, I wasn’t thinking about golf. My head was in other things.
Like what?
I was thinking in what happened, in what I could have done differently, in what I did wrong… or things like that. When your head is not where is supposed to be, it becomes much more difficult.
Seems that human beings like special dates or moments to start from scratch and set new goals. A very typical and unrealistic one is when people say "January 1st I’ll quit smoking". A typical special moment is when someone turns 30, an age that Sergio García reached in January. Sergio, turning 30 is a good moment for…
I am not like that. Being 30 could be just as good as being 25, 28 or 42. The only thing I am going to keep doing is working hard, trying to improve. I hope it will be a good time for continuing evolving as a player, and also as a person, and help people…
(He pauses and thinks)
… Because the goal in my life is not only to play good golf, win tournaments or win Majors. At the end of my life, or when I leave the spotlight, I would like to feel that I helped people that needed help. I would like to know that I made a difference for someone…
Leave a mark beyond your professional achievements…
Yes, to have a clear idea that I made some difference in some peoples’ lives. That those people have been happier or felt better because of something I may have done, or because they knew me.
What is your vision of mankind, of society? Are we, in general, a bunch of unrepentant ‘cabrones’? Basically, every man for himself? Or you think that every human being has a good side?
I see everything from a more optimistic than pessimistic point of view. Of course, there is people that, for whatever reason or the circumstances they have lived, are a little bit more… let’s say malevolent. But at the end of the day, we all have our own little heart and we all want to help one way or another. It depends a lot in the situations. For example, if you don’t have money and need to eat and feed your children …
Are you the typical hopeless romantic with women? You know: candle dinners, little details here and there, slow music evenings …
No. I have my moments, but I am not specially romantic. Not like candle dinners all the time … I do give flowers for an anniversary, a birth day … In some occasions I forgot a date, but I try to make up for it afterwards.
Now golf is an Olympic sport. If come the situation and you could go to the Olympics, would you mix with other athletes in the Olympic village, as Rafael Nadal did, or would you try to isolate yourself in a hotel, like Federer did?
I didn’t even know that Federer didn’t go to the Olympic village. I would go to the Olympic village. I think that’s an experience that, given that chance, one should live.
Have you ever put your foot down as president of your Borriol football club, to the point of dismissing a manager?
I did get serious, talking to the players about some problems. I did dismiss a manager the second year… I wasn’t there, but they called me and told me about the possibility of dismissing the manager. I have to approve it, so… But in our level, it’s not comparable.
May be you have other long term goals in this field… Would you like to be president of Real Madrid?
Probably not. I like to enjoy football and being the president of such a big team is not easy. The good part is that you live the team from the inside, but it’s a lot of work and is not easy to do a good job. Also … you can’t pull a face when you are in the box (he laughs).
What are the United States of America for Sergio García?
Simply, is a country I like. Is not that I would like to live there forever, to settle there, because I like a lot the Spanish quality of life and the way of life of Spaniards. In the United States I’ve always felt comfortable. It’s also a country that offers you many possibilities.
Do you feel they love you there more?
It’s difficult to say … (he thinks the answer for a while) I would say that, Spain and Castellón aside, where they love me the most is in England.
Let’s look at fame for a golf player in Spain. If you walk Paseo de la Castellana up and down, and a week later you do the same thing in Fifth Avenue in New York, where would you sign more autographs?
Given those examples, I would say probably Madrid, because people goes more slowly. In New York people goes fast in the streets, concentrated in there own things, and they don’t look at anybody. May be if you stop in a restaurant… but that’s different.
In the Castellón Masters you played two rounds with José María Olazábal. Obviously, you play in every tournament and every round with great players, but we would like you to talk about Olazábal in those two rounds…
Fortunately for me, Chema and I get along very well. I think he still plays at a very good level. His problem is that, because of injuries, he has a hard time practicing as much as he would like to play at his best possible level. He teaches you a lot in the course. The first two rounds in Castellón were very good and it’s amazing to see him fighting. I am amazed at how easily he can score. Even when he is not playing at his best level he can score. That’s the type of thing that you are born with or you are not. It’s very difficult to acquire. Also, he does very well around the green. Not just the approach, but bunkers… You can learn a lot. But at the end, everyone has his own way to do things.
In the Bridgestone you played with Tiger Woods on Thursday and Friday. Tell us something. From a distance, and perhaps through the body language of both of you, we could see you were closer, more ‘in sync’…
It had been a long time since we played together. I’ve always said it: Tiger and I get along well, but never had a relationship like I have with Luke Donald, Camilo Villegas or anyone of my friends. It has always been respectful, as two colleagues that get along. We had a good time then. He played well, we laughed and joked. Those were good days … But it wasn’t anything like the time I shared with Chema and Darren Clarke in Castellón. It wasn’t so relaxed.