Microsoft Teams Up With Sergio Garcia, Golf’s Newest Superstar, To Bring Sports Into the 21st Century Via “Links” and the Internet

ORLANDO, Fla., March 15, 2000 — Adding one of the hottest young athletes to its PC sports games roster that already includes Arnold Palmer, Mark Brunell and Nomar Garciaparra, Microsoft Corp. today announced a relationship with professional golfer Sergio Garcia to promote the Microsoft® ”
Links TM ”
PC golf simulation and its Virtual Golf Association TM (VGA TM ), the largest, most authentic golfing event in the history of the Internet ( ). The announcement comes a day before Sergio competes in the Bay Hill Invitational 2000, hosted by Palmer and featuring a $2.8 million purse.

Microsoft’s initial five-year deal with Sergio will begin with the young Spanish player serving as a spokesman for the VGA as well as participating in the VGA Tour as an exhibition player, giving PC golfers the chance to compete against the best. Sergio will also be featured along with Palmer in
“Links 2001,”
the next version of the best-selling PC golf simulation, scheduled to be available this fall. Both Sergio and Palmer will be featured on the box and in the game as player models, the latter through motion-capture technology. A PC-gaming enthusiast, Sergio will play an active role in the development of future versions of the game and consult with Microsoft on online components that will enhance the PC golf experience, including the VGA. Finally, Sergio’s management group, TeamSergio, and Microsoft will co-develop Sergio’s official Web site, at . Scheduled to launch in mid-2000, the site will include the latest photographs, news, interviews, tips and merchandise featuring Sergio.

Currently ranked No. 15 in the world, Sergio’s meteoric rise through the ranks has featured some of the most exciting play on the tour in the past year. At the PGA Championship at Medinah, Ill., in 1999, Sergio staged a thrilling duel to the finish with Tiger Woods and finished second to the world’s top-ranked player while also earning European Shot of the Year honors.

“Playing video games is my favorite pastime, and to be part of a game – not only as a character but also in helping to develop it — is really a dream come true,”
Sergio said.
“Having Microsoft as the developer and Arnold Palmer as the ‘father’ of ‘Links’ makes it something very special. The relationship between TeamSergio, Microsoft and me to develop Internet projects creates a horizon of limitless potential.”

“Microsoft has a tradition of working with not only the best athletes in each sport but the best sportsmen as well,”
said Ed Fries, general manager at Microsoft Games.
“Nobody illustrates that point better than Arnold Palmer, who has represented himself and the ‘Links’ franchise with such dignity over the years. With his combination of tremendous talent and grace under pressure, Sergio has demonstrated these qualities as well. Microsoft is honored to have our ‘Links’ franchise and the VGA represented by the best in two generations of golf.”

Providing some of the most memorable moments in golf during the past year is only the latest highlight in an already distinguished career for the 20-year-old Sergio. A club champion in his native Spain by age 12, he reached the
handicap milestone a year later. He made the cut at his first professional event at age 14 and became the youngest European Amateur Champion in history when he was 15. The highlight of his amateur career came in 1998, when he won the British Amateur Championship at Muirfield, Scotland. From 1995 to 1999, Sergio compiled 19 amateur championships. He was rated the No. 1 amateur golfer worldwide from June 1998 through April 1999.

Sergio turned professional in April 1999, after competing in 28 professional events as an amateur and making the cut in 21 of them. His first professional victory came in his sixth start at the Murphy’s Irish Open, where he won by three strokes. He earned his second European Tour victory at the Linde German Masters, winning in a sudden-death playoff. During his debut year on the tour, Sergio was named European Rookie of the Year, earned more than $1.8 million, captained the 1999 Dunhill Cup winning team, and served as the youngest member ever of a Ryder Cub team and the youngest player ever in the Skins game.

The VGA brings together the MSN TM Gaming Zone ( ), the No. 1 multiplayer gaming site, and
the leading PC golf simulation, for the largest, most authentic golfing event in the history of the Internet. Modeled after the real-world golf tournaments of the PGA of America, the PGA Tour and the U.S. Golf Association (USGA), the VGA Tour offers a series of sponsored online golf tournaments that are comparable in size, scope and visual appeal to the actual pro golfers’ tours. The winner* of this online golfing tour will bring home an unprecedented cash prize of $100,000, the largest grand prize ever awarded in an online sporting event.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
) is the worldwide leader in software for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software — any time, any place and on any device.

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