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PGA TOUR MEDIA CONFERENCE
June 2, 2009
THE MODERATOR: Rocco, thanks for joining us. You're making your 17th career start at the Memorial with Top 15 finishes each of the last two years. I will get you to open up with a few comments about playing this week in Mr. Nicklaus' Tournament which we know is one of your favorites on tour.
ROCCO MEDIATE: Yeah, it is. I think it's a lot of all of our favorites on tour. We get the best golf course, best conditions. We're taken care of. It's ridiculous how well he does. He takes care of everything: Players, caddies, everything. It's what all the other tournaments need to go off of. It's remarkable. But great event, great event. Can't wait for this year.
THE MODERATOR: Before we open it up for questions, we're two weeks away from the U.S. Open at Beth Page. Rocco, last year's Open, as you know was one for the ages. Can you reflect back on what that experience was like for you as well as maybe talking a little about your preparations for this year's Open at Beth Page?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Well, it was the golf experience of a lifetime, bar none. It was five days of controlled, semi-controlled insanity, I guess you could say. Especially on Monday, it was crazy on Monday. I got to test everything I ever learned about golf in that one day. And it turned out almost great. But it turned out pretty good.
It was some kind of, I don't know how to explain it, one of those dream scenarios that you want. Any athlete to play against the best guys for the biggest tournament, and I got to do that. It was awesome. It was fun. And I want to do it again.
It's hard to get in those situations all the time. It just goes to show you how good Jack has done over his career winning 20 and Tiger at 14. Tiger at 14 is just dumb. It's amazing that someone can do that many. The majors are so hard to get ready for four times a year.
In preparation, it's all the same. It's a strikers week. This is a striker's week at Memorial, and so is the U.S. Open. So nothing different. Just driving the fairway and go. That's all you can do at these tournaments or you're toast.
The roughs, they're further down this year, but they're very penalizing. It's not like there is no rough. It's high like it was last year.
Then Beth Page will be the same. It's graduated rough there. So the more quicker you hit it, the more difficult it is. That's just how it is.
Q. How much attention have you gotten since that Monday of last year? And have you been surprised at how much?
ROCCO MEDIATE: A lot of attention every day still to this day. I get a lot of people off the golf course saying how much they loved it. And where they were, and just great stories. Remarkable stuff.
It's just been great. It hasn't really stopped. A lot of people watched that Monday, and a lot of people got a lot out of it, it seems. It's just been a lot of fun. It's hard to believe how much that impacted people. It's amazing.
Q. Can you say a couple of really weird places you might have been where somebody came up to you and said, hey, unbelievable U.S. Open or that shocked you? If you could pass on just a couple of stories about what happened with the attention?
ROCCO MEDIATE: The funniest one, one of the funniest ones was -- I'm trying to think of when it was. Maybe a week or so after, I was sitting in the airport by myself. But I was sitting across from the gate on the floor. Kind of sitting across from the gate. Just put my little bag down, and I had a Starbucks with me. And I'm sitting there, and I kind of dozed off for like two or three minutes, maybe five. I don't remember. I was just so tired. And when I woke up, there were about ten people around me. It was like they were looking at -- I don't know what they see. But they had pencils and pens out and a piece of paper. And they were waiting for me to wake up. It was priceless.
He I looked up and I went, are you guys serious? (Laughing) and I was so funny. I ended up signing a bunch of stuff and talking to them. It was just priceless.
But it was just the people were -- some of the ladies I've talked to over the years have come up and said I was at Neiman Marcus in the ladies' shoe department, and they had the TV on in the back, and they were all huddled around. I mean, amazing. Just out of nowhere. People standing in the road, on the street, looking through the bar in the windows at a bar or something when it got like that. Just it was ridiculous. It was just amazing some of the stories that I've heard. Priceless.
Q. All major championships are played on very difficult courses and bad shots are inevitable. How do you as a professional golfer continuing to about your business without letting the bad shots or bad luck take over your emotions?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Well, in the Opens, if you're talking about majors, obviously, Opens, that's going to happen no matter how good you hit certain shots. There's going to be weird things happening, and bad bounces, whatever you want to call them. Flip outs, blah, blah, blah. All that stuff's going to happen that week especially because everything is so much more difficult and you have to be so much more precise.
So the guy who does it the best and doesn't let it kill him is the one who is still standing at the end of the week. So it's almost you expect that in Opens. Beth Page is going to be a tremendously unbelievably good test of golf as it always is, as it was last time, I believe. And my favorite type of golf is that penalizing stuff that if you're not precise or in the fairway you don't get to play good.
I love that aspect about the U.S. Open. It actually brings the driver back or makes the fairway become important again, which I think that's what golf's all about is driving it in the fairway.
So it's just hard not to go through a week where something really weird happens. If you even think back to when Tiger won at Pebble Beach in 2000, I think he made an 8 on the third hole one round, and still shot, you know, 150 under and won by 10 or 12 shots. Whatever he won by. So he didn't let that affect anything, really because he might have buried the next two or three holes. But things like that will happen occasionally.
I double bogeyed one hole last year, the 15th hole on, I believe, it was Friday or Saturday. I just kept going. I birdied the 17th hole and I felt better about it. I ended up shooting 70 or 71, and I was still there continuing that stretch.
Sometimes you can't do that though. It gets to you and beats you up. But the whole key on this tournament is that just doesn't happen. Let it happen.
Q. Tiger is one on the Tour to say a few words and get it out. But you seem to be more even keeled. Do you just ignore the emotions or do you somehow put it inside you, or do you get it out somehow?
ROCCO MEDIATE: No, I may not look like I get mad or throw clubs or whatever, which I don't. I do definitely get mad or angry. But I try to use that as -- I don't know how to say, a springboard. It's weird. A positive move towards okay, that's the way you want to do it. Let's see if I can or can't do this in the next hole or whatever it may be. I try to do that. Instead it leaves me or else you can't play good in spite of yourself.
But everybody gets rid of it. I talk a lot. I walk fast. I talk to people a lot. I talk to players a lot. That may be nervous energy, but I've always done that.
It's just certain people do it different ways of the I just happen to kind of let it go. And when you're playing that well, if you're in contention at a major, you know that you're playing that well. So you know even if you make a mistake you're playing good enough to send something back or hang in there the rest of the day or the rest of the hole, or for that matter, whatever it is.
I don't know, it's all different for everybody.
Q. We talked in February before you were scheduled to come up here for the AT&T, and you talked about some of the attention after all of that. But I'm curious if there's any memorable detail from that week at Torrey Pines that hasn't been told and retold, and maybe sticks in your memory. Whether or not it was Monday, or Friday, or Saturday. Just some sort of little detail that lingers for you all these months almost a year later?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Well, just, you know, the people we were with. You know, just we had a lot of talks. And we stopped where we always stop before the first tee. We just talked. Just sat there for like a minute or two before we went out into the insanity. And just little things like that: And the play would go, just so many things happened that week.
I went up to L.A. Monday or Tuesday of that open, and played with a bunch of my buddies at L.A. Country Club in Bel Air and drove back down Tuesday or Wednesday night. Things like that just made the whole week better because it was a good plan that week. It was away from the crazy Monday and Tuesday, and came back and the tournament started. It's just so much easier to do that instead of getting caught up with everything. All those little things make a big difference, I think. In my opinion.
Q. You'd spoken to Tiger once but you hadn't seen him at that point. I'm curious how often since then -- I imagine you've crossed paths with him since then. Have you talked much at all with him since Torrey Pines?
ROCCO MEDIATE: No, we haven't done that yet, which saddens me. I don't know if I'll ever do it. I'm not even sure if he wants to. But I really want to do that some day. I think it would be fun. Just, you know, hello, what's going on. Nothing sitting down or anything like that. Not really any conversation at all, actually. Just a couple of something on the range, but nothing about Torrey.
Q. Is that something you're interested in though?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Absolutely. I'd love to do that some day. I think it would be fun. But who knows. Who knows if he wants to do it or not.
Q. You've been in several playoffs in your career. I just want to get your thoughts on what you think having been through the 18-hole playoff last year is the best method to decide a major in a playoff?
ROCCO MEDIATE: They should all be 18 holes in my opinion. A three-hole thing in a major doesn't -- in those type of events, which obviously they're quite special, I would rather see the guy who plays another good 18 holes to get the trophy. Instead of three holes or one hole.
People say, well it's on Monday, it's anticlimactic and all of that crap. But it's not when you have the trophy in your hand. I don't care if it's one day. So I like the 18 holes and see who is the best and then five days. Instead of 73 holes, let's go to 90 or 91, if that's the case. But I don't know.
I think it would be very horrible if Tiger and I went back out to the 18th hole and one of us won. It just wouldn't seem like the U.S. Open to me, in my opinion.
Q. Just everyone's talking about not only the course at that stage but the atmosphere there. And what do you remember most about the way the air was at Beth Page in '02?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Oh, God. Well, first of all, New York fans are some of our best fans. They're crazy. They're loud, and they fit right in with me. So I'm looking forward to all of that stuff. It's just they're very proud of their golf course there. They're very proud. Beth Page is one of the best golf courses in the world or we wouldn't be playing there.
It's been around a zillion years, and we got to see it firsthand seven years ago, yeah, '02. It's just really a neat atmosphere. They love their golf up there. And like I said, it's going to be nuts up there if the weather is good. Nuts.
Q. First question, you won a ton of people over last year just by embracing the experience. It was obvious you were embracing the experience. I'm wondering if since then are have there been cases where you've really gotten upset at getting so close and not winning? Have you let yourself be upset about getting so close?
ROCCO MEDIATE: No, you look and think about what you could have done. We could always say, boy I had that 71st hole that I hit. And walking up to the green I kept saying to myself, it's over. Just get into the 18th hole, it's done. One of the best putts I've ever hit, just caught the edge and lipped out: I feel like I really past the test. I did lose, but I didn't lose because of a lack of technique. It's just it was one shot here, one shot there. Made a couple of mistakes, just like he did. I happened to make one more at the end and that was the end.
It made me a better player even though I lost. I know under the most intense situations, my golf swing pretty much works. My putting was not bad, and my chipping was okay. I had one bad pitch. That's how I look at it.
Yeah, I wanted to win. Anybody else if I would have lost, I would have been devastated. But with Tiger you just don't know what the hell he's going to pull off. He pulled off some amazing, amazing things just to be there. And that's what the great ones do. Period, that's what they do.
Q. I wonder how it sits with you. Would it perhaps be better for a tournament that you did win versus one that you haven't won?
ROCCO MEDIATE: It's okay. A lot of people knew me before the Open. It's just that people were not in the game got to know -- actually both of us. But especially when they're not in the game, people that have come up and talked to me were a little bit bigger crowds now, because it was just an exciting day. It was not to watch me, but it was to watch Tiger kill me.
When that didn't happen, they really turn it on. And this actually happened, and that's the cool thing about how it switched back and forth. But, no, I don't mind this at all, whatsoever. Like I said, I didn't bogey the last two holes to lose. I didn't whatever the last hole. Nothing bad really happened. It's just I lost. It's that simple.
Q. I was wondering if you could offer some insight on your appearance in the U.S. Open. Is that as simple as hitting the ball straight in a tournament that kind of demands accuracy off the tee or is there more to it than that?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Yeah, that's pretty much the bottom line there. Driving the ball off the fairways, and when you miss putting the ball in the right place. I have a rule most of the time if I hit it in the rough I can't go for the green even if I want to because so many bad things can happen.
Now at Beth Page, with the length it's going to be, if I miss, I can't reach it even if I wanted to. So it's a matter of being able to get the ball down from 40, 50, 60 yards a lot of times in the week. You're not going to hit every fairway. They don't allow that to happen.
I remember at Pinehurst, I never went for the green one time out of the rough. And I bet you, I was probably in the rough 20 times. I bet you I got it up-and-down 15. So that's why I was right there with the exception of a couple of three putts. I don't know, it might have been a different ballgame there.
So I guess it is about the striking part, you know. I know if I go to Beth Page playing like I am now, I'll be able to compete. I don't know if I'll win or finish in the top, but I'll be able to compete there. I don't care how long it is. If I drive on those fairways, I don't care, I'll definitely be able to compete. That's the key. Especially on that golf course, especially.
Q. How have you been playing this year? I know you had the knee issue earlier in the year. But you made every cut, but no top 20's yet?
ROCCO MEDIATE: No, I'm just not making a score. I'm hitting it pretty good most every week. Last week I hit it really nice at Colonial and couldn't do anything on the greens. I haven't done anything on the greens all year. That's the one thing that's kind of holding me back. I'm pitching the ball pretty good. Everything's pretty good.
I've had my weeks where I wasn't right, but everything's good. My body's good. My practices, I'm not practicing a lot, so I don't feel like I have to be hitting it as much as I do putting it.
But everything's really solid. It's just I've got to put a score together. Once I get one in there and start making more putts. Just a couple more. Not like ten a day, but two a day. I think I'll be back to where I want to be. Not really concerned, but just trying to do the same thing and working on the putting. A lot of guys would say that, but I'm hitting it just fine to do well. I'm just not making a score under par yet.
Q. You kind of just answered my question, but I was going to ask you what made your game so special that week? Was there a point where it kind of hit you that man I'm playing some of my best golf right now, and I can win this thing?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Yeah, well that started at Memorial, which is where we are now, two weeks before. And because I was driving it so good that week at Memorial, I took that to Torrey, which I've known. Obviously we've played there so many times before. And I knew the FedEx was going to be sweet, because Mike Davis is quite good at what he does.
So I kept driving the ball good. I knew if I could drive it good, I would be fine there. You know, in the Opens you don't got to make everything, you've just got to make a couple here and there. Because, you know, par at the end of the week usually gets it done.
So that's all that I was doing. I was still driving it good. I hit a bunch of good iron shots and I was putting pretty decent that week. And there it was. It wasn't -- did I know that was going to happen? No. Did I know I was going to play good? I knew I was going to play good, but you never know if you're going to win or even contend even if you're playing good.
But I like those events because par matters. I'm looking forward to that this year, hopefully I can do the same thing somehow.
Q. I was going to ask you that. I know you said last year you just wanted to do it once, and then later on you wanted to do it again.
ROCCO MEDIATE: I would love to have an opportunity going into the weekend to compete for that trophy again. And I really do believe, and I know I'm 46 and, blah, blah, blah. But I hit it plenty far enough and do plenty of good things that I can compete in these things.
That's what makes Jack's record, Tiger's record, all the guys that have won multiple majors records, that's special. You only have four a year. If you're not ready for one, there's only three left.
You know, with Tiger with 14 of them already, it's just mind boggling. It's mind boggling how good someone has to be to do that.
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