Q&A: Jorge Garcia, Puerto Rico Junior champion
Jorge Garcia is a sophomore at American Heritage in Plantation, Fla. He lives with his aunt while he attends the Jim McLean Golf School at Doral Golf Resort in Miami while his parents remain in his native Venezuela.
Garcia won his first AJGA title at the Puerto Rico Junior Open last month, and earned a sponsor exemption into the PGA Tour’s Puerto Rico Open, to be played March 7-10. Before his latest victory, Garcia had four top-10 finishes on AJGA events since 2011, including a runner-up finish at the 2012 Puerto Rico Junior Open.
Question: When you won the Puerto Rico Junior Open, how did it feel knowing you had a PGA Tour exemption and that you’d be playing in your first PGA Tour event?
Answer: Well, I have worked really hard over the last three months or so going into that tournament so I was excited about where my game was. Then to shoot that really low round on the first day gave me confidence. I hit the ball really well that week, and putted really well, too. I felt kind of nervous on the front nine on that third day, but once I made a few long putts, I knew things were headed in the right direction. I was extremely excited to finally win and can’t wait to play again in a few weeks on the PGA Tour.
Question: In the first round, you shot a 9-under 63 (that was a tournament record). How were you playing going into the tournament that week?
Answer: I played in the South Beach International Amateur, a few weeks before, and I shot two really good rounds, and then went back to Venezuela. I took a week off for Christmas break and I felt good when I came back. I played in another tournament at Doral and played well for three days straight so I had momentum heading down to Puerto Rico. I just felt free after my (Christmas) break and was playing really good. I felt good when I got to Puerto Rico and I had so much confidence.
Question: Last year, you were in the same position (leading after the second round). What was the difference this year?
Answer: In 2012, I was tied with two others and never had that kind of experience before, you know, being at the top of the leaderboard. And afterwards I felt uncomfortable because I was so close to winning. But this year I had a four- or five-shot lead and I knew something good was going to happen and I kept thinking in a positive direction.
Question: How have you been preparing for the Puerto Rico Open?
Answer: Well, I played in the HP Boys Championship this past week, and I could have played better, I know that (he finished T-24), but now I know what to work on. I leave in two weeks for Puerto Rico so I have to be prepared before then.
Question: Is there college in your future?
Answer: I gave a verbal commitment to the University of Florida in the summer of 2012. I chose Florida because the weather is perfect and it’s super close to home. One of my best friends, Kristian Caparros, is going there, too. We are on the same high school team and graduating in the same year. It’s a great fit (for me).