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October 2, 2003

Rocco Mediate


TODD BUDNICK: 4-under, 66 today, Rocco. Greens are just getting harder. It is a tough course, a very difficult one, and you managed to get six birdies today and just two bogeys. Talk a little bit about the course and how your day went.

ROCCO MEDIATE: Well, it was good. I just drove it into most of the fairways, and that's the whole key. I mean, otherwise you're dead. There's no playing from the rough. On the front nine I had a lot of good iron shots close to the hole and made a few putts. 2 and 3 I almost made 2. I had it inside six, seven feet on 2 and 3, but then I made up for a lot, made some nice putts, and that's the whole thing. You've just got to keep it around the hole. From the fairway you can play the golf course. It's getting firm now to where the 15th green is just about unbelievable it's so firm. It's unbelievable how firm it is, but it's going to get tougher as the week goes, I'm sure.

Q. You took some extra time off this summer with your kids, and it looks like that set you up for the fall. Second at Deutsche Bank, at Pennsylvania a couple weeks ago and now you're continuing that good play this week.

ROCCO MEDIATE: That's what I was telling Jim Gray out there. My evil plan is coming to fruition here because I didn't want to play this summer. I didn't feel too good in the spring. I started off good, didn't feel real good in the spring, and when the summer came, you just feel sometimes -- my boys wanted me around and my wife wanted me to be around, I hope, and I decided to be around.

I went home to Pennsylvania. Her parents are from there and that's where I'm from, so we hung there not the whole summer but a couple weeks. Then the times I did play I didn't play that good. I missed a couple cuts in June and played pretty much like crap every time I played.

I said I'm going to back this off a little bit and go home and try to be normal. I figured if I come back out once school starts, which was late August and get back on working hard and all that stuff, I've got a legitimate chance to get in the Tour Championship or win another tournament because I already made -- I don't know how much I had made, but a couple good weeks out here and it's over, especially in the right events. That's what I wanted to do. So far it's working.

Q. Boston course is being used for the first time, Pennsylvania, it's not a new course but it's being used for the first time, and then this week. Is Pete coming out here and giving you the scouting report?


Q. Is it just a fluke that you've been playing well on three courses that they're using for the first time?

ROCCO MEDIATE: It's like I was telling the guy outside, this is not a smartass comment, but it has fairways, tees and greens and we're all about yardage. I don't care where I'm playing. If I know where the fairway is and where the green is, I'm fine. That's what a touring professional does. He takes his game to anywhere and hopefully he plays well here. Hopefully a lot of the guys will play good today maybe the third time they've seen it. It's a good golf course. There's not much hidden here, you don't have to wonder what's going on. It's in front of you. It's up-and-down, but that's the land we're on. I think that's just the way it is, and the Boston golf course fit my eye, Pennsylvania fit my eye, and this one fits my eye. Sometimes not every hole does, but the key to that is I think a lot of players will tell you that this hole I like but this hole I don't, not because it's a bad hole, but because it doesn't look right to the shot you want to hit. Being predominantly a drawer some holes bother me. I've learned to get around those holes and play different shots and get my ball in play and go. That's why I don't really care if the courses were old. I don't think it's a disadvantage because like I said, it's still numbers.

Q. You need to clear something up for me. I saw something on TV. You're now Naples?


Q. I thought you went to St. Augustine, and now you're going Gulf Coast?

ROCCO MEDIATE: We're going Gulf Coast.

Q. What's the reasoning there?

ROCCO MEDIATE: Schools, the community we're going to move to, Tuscany Reserve, which is very nice, very private and a Norman Dye golf course, brand new. The schools are really good down there and I want the kids to get down there and get started. We're going to go down there next fall. The house won't be done until next December.

Q. A whole year away.

ROCCO MEDIATE: They'll start in November.

Q. You're staying at Sawgrass until then?

ROCCO MEDIATE: Until then.

Q. But you were building a house, weren't you?

ROCCO MEDIATE: No, I just had land there, but I'm going. Plus it's warmer, and my back likes that better. It's just a neat place, and I like it. Rick Smith is there, too, and that's another reason.

Q. Which courses are you working at?

ROCCO MEDIATE: Tiburon, which is a WGC community. So it's Tuscany. It's a neat place, for the boys especially.

Q. Will you miss Ponte Vedra?

ROCCO MEDIATE: I loved it there. It's where my kids have grown up so far, but sometimes you want a change and that's what I feel like I need to do, go down there.

Q. You said you're enjoying it more and you've played better after having a break. Do you feel in golf you have to get a break, otherwise you start getting stale?

ROCCO MEDIATE: When I was younger I played a lot but never 33 events. I played maybe 28 or maybe 30 one year I maybe played when I was first starting, which you basically have to. I think it's different for everybody. Fred Funk, for instance, will play 30 events. That's what he likes to do. That's fine. I couldn't do that. I wouldn't make it, I'd go crazy, but he loves to do that and so does his family, and that's fine. Some guys -- I don't want my boys to grow up on the road. That's not what I want and that's not going to happen. Like I said before, it's fantasy land out here. I don't want them to think it's always fantasy land.

Q. It must be hard work trying to keep your priorities right.

ROCCO MEDIATE: It isn't for me. What I was telling someone yesterday is I get into the game -- I get out of the game exactly what I put in, and if you come out here without working, these guys will beat you to death, as they should, and when I have time to practice and work and get back and sharpen things up, I come out and I can compete. That was my plan. A lot of my friends and stuff during the summer are saying, what's the matter with you, why aren't you playing. I don't want to play. I've been doing this 18 years. I'm allowed to not play golf. People don't get it. I'm kind of tired right now, I want to go away and be normal for a while, but I want to come back because I love this. I love what I do and I love traveling the tour and all that, I still love it, but sometimes you just get tired. Everybody does. I'm fortunate enough in our business that I can take a few months off, and come back and it's still here, which is the good thing about our sport. It's worked for a few years in a row. Like I said, only six or seven more of these years and that's it. That's not asking too much.

Q. Here we are on the other end of the success spectrum here this week. Do you ever go into the last month or so as a bubble boy fighting to hang on?

ROCCO MEDIATE: I never have. My first year as a professional I called -- I was walking across the tee at Pebble Beach and I called Rick Smith up because my mom and dad were out there, but I called Rick up and I said I've got no chance. He said, what do you mean? And I said, I've got no chance to survive this year, so we've got to start doing something now to fix it.

I knew I was going to lose my card. I was miserable for probably half of that year. I said, I can't play, but I'm, what, 22 years old, and I've been playing golf all of six years or seven. I haven't been playing golf at all, and here I am in the best arena in the world and I can't compete with these guys then. I had no chance, but I knew it, and I still tried, but then Rick and I started working back then, and once we started working, I saw some results in the swing and ball flight, not money or -- I made a few cuts at the end of the year, but I knew if I kept doing it -- I finished third in the school the following year and I've been here ever since. I've never been 122 going into this week. Thank God. The first year I knew I was done before I started, which was good.

Q. And you went back to Q-school?

ROCCO MEDIATE: Yes. I knew I was going back. The first three, four, five months I was losing my mind, but it's worked out good so far.

Q. Pete told me out there that you're walking with a swagger the last few weeks.

ROCCO MEDIATE: He sees it. I don't know what he's talking about.

Q. Is there one thing that's clicking more for you now than earlier this summer?

ROCCO MEDIATE: Yeah, I just went back to playing the game. I had long talks with Rick in April, and I hadn't seen him that much, which was my mistake, and I said, you know, I just want to go back to what I do, period. That's what I want to do, and we did. We started Augusta National on Saturday morning, we worked on the range. All of a sudden I saw signs of it. I saw signs of it. It didn't happen at once, and I said, hey, I used to do that a lot. Then I'd hit a bad one and then a couple more good ones and then more good ones. When the break came in the summer is when I secretly worked on that. That's what happened, I'm just playing the game, just the old motion I have back in my back swing. The bigger body motion through. It's worked for years and years that way. I went and screwed around and tried to mess with it. Luckily being out here so long I knew not to keep going with it. Pete was on me, too, very hard. Pete is very important. His opinion is probably the most important as far as golf that I had.

Q. Were you afraid that going back to that would aggravate your back in any way?

ROCCO MEDIATE: No, because it wasn't that that caused it as far as the golf swing. We all try to get better. You've heard these horror stories, and I was getting myself into one, but I got out, thank God.

Q. I've asked a bunch of guys this question this week. Tiger is on the cusp of breaking that cut streak, which is 113 in a row. Your thoughts coming to play, 113 weeks in a row and surviving what that requires? Can you wrap your arms around that number?

ROCCO MEDIATE: No, require is something that most of us don't know about because he's the only one who's done it. Nothing that he does raises my eyes. Nothing. No matter what he does it's like, yeah, I can say that. Yeah, he won four majors in a row, yeah, I can see that. It doesn't phase me at all. I don't know what other guys say, but nothing he does surprises me. Everyone is worried about Tiger's game but Tiger, which is kind of neat.

Q. Are you getting longer off the tee?

ROCCO MEDIATE: I think I am. I don't know what's going on.

Q. You drove 5, right?

ROCCO MEDIATE: Yeah, but that doesn't play 315. It sits down.

Q. But I've seen a lot of 300s on your stats.

ROCCO MEDIATE: Yeah, the new balls help me maybe 300 yards. The new Hex Tour I started with in Milwaukee.

Q. Black?

ROCCO MEDIATE: Yes. Maybe 10 more. I'm hitting it more soft more often. When you're playing with confidence I can hit it just about as far as I want.

Q. How much are you going to play after this?

ROCCO MEDIATE: It depends on how I do.

Q. You're going to Greensboro?

ROCCO MEDIATE: I'm going to Vegas, Greensboro. I have plans to play the last five. How many are left after this?


ROCCO MEDIATE: I have planned to play here through the end of the year. If I get into the Tour Championship I might skip one of them.

Q. You're not going to skip Disney, are you?

ROCCO MEDIATE: That's one I might skip.

Q. How do the kids feel about that?

ROCCO MEDIATE: The kids have been there, they don't care. I'm planning on playing -- I'm obviously planning on playing a full schedule until the end of the year no matter what. That's what I'm doing.

Q. The Player of the Year race as close as it appears to be, what kind of criteria would you use for your vote and how do you view it when you've got --

ROCCO MEDIATE: I think Weirsie has got it because he's beating everybody in the majors pretty much. He won The Masters, he finished third or fourth at the U.S. Open, I don't know what he did at the Open, and he finished third or fourth or fifth at the PGA and he's won two other events. If he does anything the last segment of the year, it's over. If Tiger wins here and does well at the Tour Championship, that could be it. Then you look at Davis who won The Players, which in our mind is a major. It's the hardest field in the world. So that's also another one.

But I think Mike has got it right now, my own opinion.

Q. That counts for me.

ROCCO MEDIATE: That's my opinion and it counts for me.

Q. It counts more than anybody in this room.

ROCCO MEDIATE: It actually does because I put the check on there.

Q. Talking about Boston and Pittsburgh, you were 16-under at one and 17-under on another and both you shot 11-under on the weekend. Is that an indication that you've got something coming up?

ROCCO MEDIATE: I hope so because I'll tell you what is different right now, I was telling Pete, the more intense it seems to get out there, the more comfortable I've been feeling. Even today, I got right into the mix quick, and all of a sudden I like feeling that -- for some reason the shot seems to mean more. It shouldn't, but it does. Going into the back nine, I knew it was going to be a tough nine, the wind started blowing and it was just nasty. Obviously I'll make as many birdies as I can, but if I can make par or better, that will be a great score. I enjoy that feeling more than I used to. The last three or four years I've gotten to enjoy that. I don't know how to explain it, but I feel better under the gun as you would call it than I used to 15 years ago. I've got more experience, but I really like that feeling. Not to say that I'm going to shoot 11 under par again every time I feel it, I'm going to mess up, too, but I'm enjoying that feeling right now.

Q. 11-under here on the weekend would be --

ROCCO MEDIATE: That would probably get the job done by a whole bunch. Someone can do it. As good as we are, someone can do it. Three or four of us shot 4-under, and that's pretty good here. When I went out there this morning, I was thinking if I shoot around par, I'm going to be happy because I know how hard it is. You miss two or three fairways and it's over as far as making birdies from there. Someone could it. Someone here can shoot 7 to 10-under par. I don't know if it's going to happen, but it could happen.

Q. What would you say then was more of an accomplishment today, your six birdies or the fact that Tim Herron, who you're tied with, didn't have a bogey?

ROCCO MEDIATE: That's unbelievable there. I'd say the no bogeys is pretty good. I made two bogeys. They're both really -- the scores -- 4-under par is a really good score around here as we're seeing now. It looked like Tiger played good, too, obviously. It's nice seeing him up there. I enjoy that because it pushes me. Whether we're paired together the last day and he beats the crap out of me or I win the tournament, I don't care. When the best guys are up there I want to get to them to see how I can handle them. That's all you want in your sport to play against the best guys. You want to see what you've got. They'll bring either the best or the worst out of you.

Q. At what point in your career did you start feeling that way?

ROCCO MEDIATE: In 1999 when I had Tiger the last two days at Phoenix. That's when I knew I wanted to keep doing this and get better because it's something you don't get to do very often.

Q. In that environment you can handle anything.

ROCCO MEDIATE: Yeah. You don't get to play against the best in your sport in that environment hardly ever and come out on top. That was the key for me. I can always tell my kids I took on Tiger for two days and beat him. You can't say that very often anywhere. How many guys -- think about how often does that happen. The guy just doesn't let it happen. So it's one of those things where I'll always remember that, and the next time it happens, if I get waxed or not, it doesn't matter. If I'm near the leader or up there with him, it's going to be more of a carrot dangling for me to try to beat the best players than to be afraid and go, oh, no, what am I going to do. It doesn't make sense to me. It doesn't mean it's going to come through and I'm going to do it, but I'm certainly not going to be afraid to where it's going to stop me from doing what I want to try to do. I think those guys will say the same thing about whoever is up there. If I was the No. 2 or No. 3 ranked player in the year -- Ernie is doing a great job. Ernie is trying to get there because he knows if he keeps beating away he'll never know because Tiger hasn't been able to hold -- you can't win half the majors you play in for your career that you play in, it's impossible, although he's done a good job, but he's pushing them to try to get there. I think that's good for any sport.

Q. I know at the beginning of the year you made some changes in your putting and went back to the long putter. Are you comfortable with that? You're good with that?

ROCCO MEDIATE: Oh, yeah. I just wanted to try it. I putted okay with it. I didn't trust it on my back. I said I'm not messing with this anymore. I'll just go back to what I know. It took a few months to get back to normal. I putted pretty good the last month or so.

Q. So you would practice on the short one, you just can't stay stooped?

ROCCO MEDIATE: Yeah, and I was 38 inches with it, too, which is really long. Still.

Q. Do you think that had something to do with you were talking about the period of time in the late spring, early summer where you weren't playing as well as you wanted to? Do you think that had to do with the fact you changed back?

ROCCO MEDIATE: It might have because I didn't putt worth a crap. I didn't do anything good. I drove it in the fairways and that's it. It probably did. I don't look that deep at it, though. It was something I wanted to do. Frankly I'd like to do it every year, but that means I've got to play my butt off early, then I can back off in the summer with the boys again and come back, but that's not easy to do.

Q. You would like to change putters?

ROCCO MEDIATE: No, I'm just talking about the schedule for next year. I'd like to take time off in the summers with them, but we'll see.


ROCCO MEDIATE: I birdied 1. I hit it just on the right fringe about 15 feet from the hole, made that. I hit a 7-iron.

5th hole, about 20 feet from the hole, and I missed that one. If I drive it on the par 4 do you get credit for fairways hit?


ROCCO MEDIATE: That would make me very angry if I didn't. I birdied the par 3, I hit it 12 feet there with a 6-iron.

8, I hit an 8-iron in there about ten feet behind the hole, made that.

Two-putted 12, par 5, hit a 3-wood on the green.

17, I hit it about eight feet with a 9-iron.

TODD BUDNICK: And your bogeys?

ROCCO MEDIATE: 10, I drove it just in the left rough, rough left of the green, hit it six feet and I missed that.

14, those are two of the best shots I hit all day, right at the middle with a driver, hit it right at the flag with an 8-iron and it went over the green and into the rough, and I made a lousy chip and missed it. Walking off the green I looked at Peter I said I just didn't feel like I was going to make a 5 here when that 8-iron was in the air.

I got a good bounce on the par 3 on 13. It bounced ten feet left of the hole.

End of FastScripts.

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