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WYNDHAM CHAMPIONSHIP


August 12, 2014


Rocco Mediate


GREENSBORO, NORTH CAROLINA

MARK STEVENS:¬† Two‑time winner here in '93 and 2002, celebrating 75 years of the Wyndham Championship.
ROCCO MEDIATE:  That's pretty cool.  Is it our longest running or close to it?
MARK STEVENS:¬† It's in the top six non‑majors.
ROCCO MEDIATE:  Okay, yeah, besides majors, I knew it was up there.
MARK STEVENS:  Tell us about your personal history here and what this tournament means to you?
ROCCO MEDIATE:  It's kind of like home almost.  I have a couple of good friends, the Flanagans, in town.  I used to stay with them in '02.  I stayed with scooter in '02, so I got to be really good friends with them and the family.  It's almost like home.  I met their son who has to be 25.  He's older than my son Rocco.  So I've seen a lot of things around here.  It's been great.  I've always loved Greensboro.

Q.  Can one of you older guys win this?
ROCCO MEDIATE:  Absolutely, why wouldn't we?

Q.  This course?
ROCCO MEDIATE:  Doesn't matter what course.  Please get that through everybody's head.  It makes no difference.  285 down the middle of the fairway will beat people.  I don't care if the course is 12,000 yards long, so length absolutely means nothing.  It's basically putting.  It's basically putting.
So this golf course is completely‑‑ with the new greens I haven't seen until now, it's fantastic, changed the whole place in a good way because actually you have to think about your second shot in places you can't‑‑ you know, there are some places you just can't go now where before you could get away with stuff because it was soft and wasn't nearly as fast.¬† But I love it, I think the changes are fantastic.

Q.  Has your mindset at all changed back to the younger guys or is it just the same?
ROCCO MEDIATE:  It's still the same.  I missed this TOUR a lot.  I just miss everything about it, and I was thinking this:  I was talking to somebody this morning.  I said you know what the hard thing was?  I played right up to the Champions Tour and then I went out there and played.  I love it.  I do love it a lot.  It's great.  The competition is ridiculous as you see out there, but you just miss it.
If I would have not played for five years, it wouldn't be the same.  It's a really weird feeling.  I'm not saying bad about either one, it's just I miss it.  I don't know what to say.  I played my whole life out here.  But the Champions Tour is ridiculously cool.  Just figure out the deal with Bernhard.  We haven't been able to figure him out yet and he's something else.  We have a ball.
But I don't play any different out there than I did here.  I still yack, I still talk, and I still try to have as much fun as I can.  I don't really think much about that.

Q.  When Mark asked you to play on a sponsor’s exemption, did you hesitate?
ROCCO MEDIATE:¬† Yeah, he said‑‑ this was way back.¬† This was way back, months and months ago.¬† He called me and said, hey, we'd like to have you come back for the 75‑year anniversary.¬† What do you think?¬† And I said, yep, let me check.¬† Yep, I can do that.¬† I don't care what tournament it was opposite of it wouldn't have mattered to me because this place is obviously special to me.¬† Yeah, it was nice of him to make that call.¬† That was cool.

Q.  What do you remember about your two wins here?
ROCCO MEDIATE:¬† '93 I remember Elk, I played really good the last.¬† I was playing really good.¬† It was windy again, and both times I won it was really windy on Sunday in '02 and '93.¬† I remember I came to the 15th hole, hit it right on‑‑ almost out of bounds.¬† I think I made 6 or 7 on that hole, and I had a two or three shot lead at that time and I was gone.¬† I limped in and made pars and Elk made a good par on the last to tie me to go to the playoffs.
But I do remember, I should have lost that playoff on the first playoff hole.  I hit it in the left bunker and you can't hit it out of that left bunker especially where I did, basically 15 feet from the hole on the fringe.  Elk and I were talking about it last week.
He goes, I'm walking by the bunker‑‑ this is what he said‑‑ I'm walking by the bunker.¬† He drove it down there 120 yards.¬† I'm back over the 6‑iron on this here lip like this.¬† He goes I walked by the bunker and looked at it and said there is no way this gets us to the green.¬† We're done.¬† So I looked up and it went right over the green.¬† Said he hit it over 20 feet, missed, I two‑putted and I won couple three holes later.
But I remember that was an amazing‑‑ I remember that shot.¬† There was no way I hit that over the lip, and it went right over the top of the lip.¬† So in '02 I had a couple of shot lead, I think, going into Sunday, and Calc and I played.¬† We were pretty much away from everybody, and I played pretty solid that windy day, and I think I won by two or three, I think.¬† Obviously, he played pretty good.¬† But Calc and I played pretty good in Phoenix and set the record.¬† I finished second that year by nine.¬† So that was a little payback, I guess you would say.
So, yeah, it was great.  With the Flanagans, again, just hanging out with them, and we had a great time.

Q.  Bad backs are such a big subject on the PGA TOUR right now, Tiger, and Crane and Kuchar.  Can you put into words what this sport does to a human's back?
ROCCO MEDIATE:¬† With motion that doesn't fit, with motion that's not physically correct, it will break, period.¬† The most in‑shape athlete, one of the top 10 most in‑shape athletes on TOUR is Tiger.¬† Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty close.¬† Not on TOUR‑‑ in sport, let's put it that way, not on TOUR.¬† In sport, there are not many more guys in better physical condition than he is, correct?¬† Am I right or am I wrong?¬† And he breaks.
So something is up with the motion.¬† That's all we do is play golf most of the time unless you get a freak injury.¬† But if the motion is bad‑‑ we already, think about it.¬† We stand sideways, bent over with a crooked stick and a ball just looking at us.¬† Then it's messed up already, and then we add more weird things to the motion, and our backs and other parts of our body go no, no, no, this isn't going to work.¬† You can't do this 3,000 times a week to me, and then we break.¬† That's what happens, period.¬† So when guys come out of a back injury, and I watch it all the time.
By the way, I've never gotten a phone call from one of them, and I've gone through ridiculous things and I've come through it every single time because I've always changed to go back to what's going to take the stress off that?  So we'll do that.  That's how I survived for 27 years on this TOUR.
So I haven't gotten anybody say, hey, Rocc, what do you think?  Nothing.  It's freaky to me.  The only reason that happens, unless they go skiing or something else, if it's a golf injury, it's because of the way they're swinging the golf club, period.  There is nothing else you can say about it.  You can get any doctor in here and if he doesn't say the same thing, he's wrong because that's what's going to happen, it will break every time.
Like I said, our number 1 guy, our number 1, physically fit guy, maybe not so much, maybe he's in the top two or three now with what Rory's up to.  But if you look at Rory's motion and action right now, it's technically perfect.  Tiger was like that in the early 2000s, he was perfect and nothing was really wrong with him.  All of a sudden, when guys make changes, things start to go wait a minute here, what are you doing to me?  And they snap.  Unfortunately, a quick injury like that can take years to heal.  But hopefully he'll figure it out, because it's still there, obviously.
It makes me sick to my stomach to watch him because I know how he feels.  I was never that kind of player, obviously, but I know what he's going through, and it's awful.  There is nothing worse than that because you can't do what you want to do.  I've said that a million times.
I've been asked what is the worst thing about a back injury?  The worst thing is you can't do anything you want to do.  So if you go home trying to play against guys, most of the time you're going to get killed, because you can't do it.  You're limited.  I would rather be perfectly healthy and play awful because I know it's my fault.  When your back's out or whatever is hurt is out, you can't do anything about it in any sport.  This one's crazy.  I don't know why it does that all the time.

Q.  Much has been made about Tiger not winning a major since '08 and you were a big part of that '08 U.S. Open.  Do you still get asked about that?
ROCCO MEDIATE:¬† Every day.¬† It's amazing, every day.¬† Pretty much every single day, and it doesn't bother me a bit.¬† It's just one of those things.¬† People still don't realize what happened there.¬† It was insane.¬† It just doesn't happen like that.¬† It was freaky, but it was good for me.¬† I know I lost.¬† I lost because I got beat.¬† I made the first mistake and bogeyed the playoff hole.¬† And I tell people this all the time, the reason it didn't kill me‑‑ it bothered me for a while.¬† Don't get me wrong.¬† I was pretty beat up for a while because of what I thought about it.¬† But if I would have bogeyed the last three holes to lose on Sunday or last three‑putted the last hole to lose on Monday, that might have ended everything.¬† It's happened, as you've seen, it's happened to people.¬† But I didn't do that.¬† I just got beaten by an amazing performance by our best player, okay.
What saved me really was the Frys tournament.  When I won Frys.  I didn't want that to be it.  But people asked me about that.  I said that was unbelievable, but Frys was even better because I got over that and got another win against the guys.  I was 47 and going to the Champions Tour in a couple of years and it was perfect.  But every time I get asked, and I get asked those questions that you didn't ask, why didn't you fold and go away and what was the Frys game?

Q.  At Frys you rebounded?
ROCCO MEDIATE:  Absolutely, yeah, I was.  I didn't want that to be it.  Because you just never know.  It's hard to win it all on any TOUR but especially here at my age.  I certainly didn't feel 47.  I don't feel 51 now, so we'll see.  I'm working on some stuff.

Q.  Is the TOUR going to be okay moving forward?  A lot of our stars are getting older?
ROCCO MEDIATE:  I hope it is.  I hope it is.  Rory is helping the cause here.  I feel like it's great to have the front runner guy that's heads and tails above most of the players.  No disrespect to anybody else, but Tiger was that way for 12, 13, 14 years or more.  And Rory looks like he wants that deal now.  I mean he's just shown us a few things in the last month that were ridiculous.  So if he keeps up that pace or anything close to that pace, then maybe something like in ten years we'll be talking about him going ahead of everybody else, but we don't know that yet.  What it looks like now is yeah.  But I think it's good to have that guy up there.
A lot of guys didn't like when Tiger won every other time he played and all the majors.¬† I liked it.¬† It made me try to get better, and I'm not even anything close to what the top players are out there.¬† Phil's done really‑‑ Phil's won five.¬† There have been guys that have had pretty darn good careers against him over the years, but he was the man.¬† I like that in our sport.¬† Doesn't have to be him, it could be anybody.¬† But I hope he goes for it.
It seems like it's fine.  I don't know.  I watch it some when I'm home, but it seems like it's fine.  But we have to give it back to the people, man.  You have to give it back to them, and hopefully you will.  You've got to look at them because they're coming to watch you and they're coming to watch you.  Arnold Palmer always said give them something back for their money.  You listen to what Mr.Palmer says or else you're stupid or else he'll hit you or something.
But he said that my first couple years because I was really, really shy my first year, I was really shy my whole life until I don't know what happened, something happened.  That's what he said.  He said give it back.  The people come out here to watch you and say hello.  That's all you have to do.  Don't look at the ground and walk by.  I don't care.  He said I don't care if it's Monday or Sunday in the last group.  So that's what I try to do.

Q.  How is your game?
ROCCO MEDIATE:  I'm rewashing a few things.  Going back to what I did before, so it's not a big deal.  It just takes a little time.  Actually, Minnesota last week was not bad.  I was actually pleasantly surprised.  And this week is a little narrow.  It's one of my favorite driving courses here, so that's the part that I haven't been doing as well, so we made a few small little tweaks that feel big.
But I've been killing myself the last couple weeks to get ready for here and see what happens.  Then I'm playing the rest of the Champions Tour and Frys.  Frys is opposite one of our tournaments.  I like that place.  It was fun last year.  That course was destroyed by that flood, I guess, and it was fine, though.  I guess this year is fine.  I hear it's better anyway, so that's good.
It's good to be here.  I like it.  It's different.  It's bigger, noisier, which I love.  Champions Tour is smaller and quieter, but it's good.  Like I said, standing on the range, and the range is packed here, like today it's packed.  Ours is never like that, it's never packed.  There are no spots to hit it at 12 in the afternoon.  What's going on here?  So it's good to see a lot of the guys.  It was good to see some of the guys.

Q.  (Indiscernible)?
ROCCO MEDIATE:  Couple.  I didn't see Bud.  Michael Thomson.  Michael Thomson is a cool little story because we played the first two rounds together at Torrey.  He either won the Amateur or was runner up.  He had to win it to play in The Open, right?  But he wouldn't have played with me.  They don't do that at the Open.  Yeah, so maybe the runner up.  I don't remember.  Anyway, he made the cut.  He played great.
I remember what I said, I said I hope to see you soon out here, and I saw him.  I've seen him before and he went up to say, hey, Mr.Mediate.  He was busting my ass and busting me up a little bit.  But I said I'm so happy to see your success.  You could see it.  But we can see that sometimes as guys that have played out here, and I had a feeling he would be successful, and he has been pretty successful.  So it was nice seeing him.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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