Who were your inspirations growing up?
As a kid you don?t think about those things. I just loved the game and played it. I played all sorts of games not only golf. I played football and tennis. As I got a bit older into my teens, I started thinking ?I?d love to do this for a living.? Watching Seve, Olazabal, Greg Norman and Nick Price, Nick Faldo and you think ?I wish I could be there one day.? It is a dream that every little kid has.
What influence did the likes Olazabal and Seve have on you?
They were a big influence as was my Dad. As a 14 year old it was nice to play some practice rounds with them as they were some of the best players in the world. It was a great experience – a learning experience.
Did they give you hope that as a Spanish guy, you could make it to the top?
Of course, I think they did. But I didn?t think about it so much when I was little ? I just wanted to play. That?s always how it was for me. Hopefully it will keep being that way for a long time.
Do you think your achievements as a junior golfer have put pressure on you?
No I don?t at all. I know what I?m capable of and I know where my game can take me. I?m just trying to get better and become the best player I can. That?s all that I can ask of myself.
How do you manage the demands of your career with those of your family?
I?d love to spend more time with my family and friends than I do but I know what I love doing. I have a schedule that means sometimes my friends and family can come and watch me. I also come back here [Castellon] once in a while and spend some time with them. At the moment it?s set up pretty nicely ? I get to see quite a lot of them.
What do you miss most about being here when you are away travelling?
Probably the food and the friends. The weather is usually very nice here too. It?s always nice to go and have tapas and paella with friends. It?s always good fun.
You are known as a pretty stylish dresser, how do you go about selecting your outfits each week?
It?s quite simple. In the Majors I talk to my colleges at Adidas, we try to pick what fits the best and what I feel comfortable with. During regular tournaments I just grab some of the pants I have and try to match up the shirts ? just randomly that day. I?ve always enjoyed fashion in my own kind of way. I also have energy colours – my kind of colours that show off my personality.
You?re someone who shows his emotions on the course far more than most and as such that makes you an interesting player to watch. Do you think the game suffers from the less interesting characters that inhabit it nowadays?
There are some guys that get excited and show it and there are some guys that get excited and don?t show it. I don?t think you can ask someone to change ? it wouldn?t be natural.
Do you feel a sense of responsibility to entertain a crowd?
I love to entertain a crowd with my game and my personality but at the same time I?m trying to achieve something. You can only be yourself and try to put on a show for the people in your own way. Through my personality hopefully some of the people can experience the emotions that I have. But if you try too hard to entertain, you can see it?s not natural.
Would you have been a sportsman if you weren?t a golfer?
Definitely. No doubt about it. I?d have probably played football or tennis. I would have definitely played sports ? I can?t live without them.
You come across as one of the most natural golfers on Tour. Are you the sort of player who can go straight out and play well without warming up first?
I am the kind of guy who can take five or ten swings and hit it down the middle ? I?ve done that before. But it?s not the proper way. I want to take my time, have a smooth warm up and get ready. I probably could if I wanted to but in the long run it wouldn?t be the best thing.
How much emphasis do you place on the mental side of the game?
It is important but I don?t feel like I need any psychological help from outsiders. I have my family when I need help. The better you are mentally, the better you play. The more confident you are the better you play. When you are playing nicely, you don?t see anything apart from the pin and where you want to hit it. I don?t think that a more structured mental routine would work for me ? I?ve never been a big believer in that. You?ve got to believe to make it work. A mental coach can help you but on the other hand he can only tell you what you can tell yourself.
What will it take for you to win a Major?
Finishing one shot better than second [laughs]. I guess I?ve got to keep believing and trying hard. You?ve got to treat a Major week the same as any other but sometimes that?s hard because of the media and everyone around you makes it such a big deal about it. It can be hard to block that out and just get on with playing. The only thing I can do is to keep giving myself chances. I guess it?s just a matter of time. If you keep giving yourself chances, it?s going to happen.
Which major do you think you are best suited to winning?
I?d say the US Open or British Open. I?d really love to win the Open – it?s the best event in the world. I love it for everything that it has ? the history, the crowds and how the tournament can change. You?ve got to get quite lucky to win an Open. You can tee off in the morning and it be perfect weather the in the afternoon it can be horrendous. I?ve always loved links golf.
After you?ve had a win or a good result, how do you bring yourself back down to earth?
I try to stay on earth the whole time. I try to do things like a normal guy would do. I don?t go out to dinner and have two bodyguards with me. I don?t try and overdo what I am. I am just a normal person that God gave an extra gift to play golf. We are all the same ? some are better than others at some things but that doesn?t make you better overall. You?ve just got to treat everyone the same.
Do you find the fame, especially here in Castellon difficult to deal with?
It?s fine. Living in a small town like Castellon my whole life, everyone pretty much knows me. They?re used to seeing me around so it doesn?t get too crazy in my life. The people here don?t get too over-excited to see me. My life?s not like Tiger?s life which is a little bit over the top. I?m not too famous.
Speaking from your experience, how do you think we can get more kids into golf?
I guess it?s got to come from within the player himself. All you can do is make him love the game as much as possible. When you are a kid all you want to do is have fun. You bang your head against the wall and you don?t care ? you just get up and carry on. I think the most important thing is to learn how to make the kids enjoy the game and love the game. You can?t make them play it, let them do their own thing. It?s great when the youth are involved in any sport. If it?s golf ? awesome, but if it?s football or tennis or cycling or running then it?s great. Sports are very healthy and that?s what you have to ask for.
Can you talk me through the Ryder Cup, your passion for the event?
It?s like my eyes light up at the Ryder Cup. I don?t know why but I?ve just loved that event since 1995, the first time I saw it live in Oak Hill. I went with the junior Ryder Cup team and I remember watching Seve, Olazabal, Faldo, Per Ulrich Johansson and Phillip Walton. It was the greatest thing in the world and I thought to myself ?I want to play in this event.?
I love the team atmosphere. In fact I love the event far more on a Friday and Saturday than I do on a Sunday. I love having a friend of mine playing with me who I can talk to and laugh with. We can keep happy with all the pressure that goes around. It just suits me.
Why are the Americans so much stronger than us when it comes to individual strokeplay events?
I don?t know why they are so strong in medal play and they win so many more majors than we do. But when we get to the Ryder Cup, something just clicks. We can feel it.
Do you find life on US Tour lonelier than in Europe?
It?s only lonely if you want it to be. For me, being on the US Tour is great. I try to go out and have dinner every night. I either go out with my caddie friends or Luke, or Adam or Tim Clark or Trevor Immelman. We spend so much time in hotel rooms and some of the players order room service every night! I suppose they have their families around but it just seems a bit boring to me.
As you are eating out a lot do you find it hard to keep to a strict diet?
I try to eat a little bit of everything. You?ve got to enjoy it. There are some great restaurants in America ? you probably can?t find a good paella but you can eat a lot of good food other than that.
You are a big Real Madrid fan. I take it that you are you in the minority on the US Tour?
There are some football fans but most of them are caddies. Some of the Aussies like to watch it as well as the European guys so there?s a good little group. If it?s Champions League night I?ll make arrangements to watch it. I?ll have an early practice round so I can watch Real Madrid but not only Real Madrid. I like to watch Chelsea and Liverpool and Manchester and AC Milan. I love football so I love watching big games.
Who were your inspirations growing up?