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April 17, 2003

Rocco Mediate


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Rocco, thanks for joining us. First rounds, 67, 4-under par. If we could start with some openings comes. You played well out there today.

ROCCO MEDIATE: The golf course is, as usual, very good. It's one of my favorites. I think everybody loves it here. It's a tremendous area. The golf course, it's one of the best we play on all year. It's in perfect condition with all of the rain from what I've heard. It was a good day to play.

Q. Is this the rest of your foursome?

ROCCO MEDIATE: Yes, this is the rest of them. (Laughter.)

Q. Have these guys ever made it in the interview room before?

ROCCO MEDIATE: A few times.

Q. Were they out there coaching saying, "Dad, you should have done this"?

ROCCO MEDIATE: Not yet but I'm sure that day will come, unless they know better, which they will.

Q. How is this week different than other weeks, seeing you with everybody around?

ROCCO MEDIATE: Well, last week -- it's hard to explain last week. It's just coming here, you still have to hit the ball great. Last week and great this week, but it's a different set of circumstances. Here you can miss certain parts of the fairway at Augusta and still have a shot but here can you not. Here you have to hit the ball in the fairways or your game is over. That's the difference.

The greens are tiny here. I can have 95-footers over humps this week. They are such different animals but both a great way to play. I love this style of golf. I love the definition here and I see better off these tees. I've done my best driving here because I like that confined look.

Q. Is there something to the relaxed atmosphere, having the family, do you go to the beach in the afternoons?

ROCCO MEDIATE: I'm still trying to recover from last week. I'm still tired. They have actually been doing it the past two days. Maybe this afternoon we will take a walk or something but it's definitely a more relaxing week. There's not as much going on. The golf course isn't that big where Augusta is huge. It's hard to get around. These guys didn't come last week but my wife did. And I think the fans are more tired walking last week than we were, all that stuff. But it's definitely a much more relaxing atmosphere.

Q. Is that more relaxing than just last week or than any other week on TOUR?

ROCCO MEDIATE: There's a few of these type of events. The atmosphere around here is one of the top two or three we have all year because it is kind of cool and laid back here.

As far as the golf, it's just as intense, I think. We're out there going, boy, I'm so relaxed to be on an easier golf course but this golf course is not easy by any means. Like I said before, last week, you're playing a different way.

Q. You'll have an afternoon tee time tomorrow. How much different do you expect it to play?

ROCCO MEDIATE: I expect it to be windy. It's starting to kick up now. In the mornings, unless there's a storm coming, it's usually very calm. Today it was very calm. There wasn't anything going on out there. But I don't think we are going to get any serious wind. But 10 or 15 miles in the afternoon is just fine.

Q. It's important to take advantage of the early tee time?

ROCCO MEDIATE: I think so. It's a good way to start the week. If you go out and shoot a good score and there are high winds tomorrow, you could be right in the thick of things at the end of the week.

Q. Did you like this course immediately when you first saw it?

ROCCO MEDIATE: Yes. I played back in '81 or '82 with Jim Ferree when I first came out here and I loved it then. I'm hitting some different clubs into holes nowadays, but it was much tighter back then. The 14th and 15th green were much smaller and the 7th was much smaller, too.

Q. Were you a college player at the time?

ROCCO MEDIATE: Yes. I drove up there from Lakeland (ph) just about twice a month. Jim and I, we play all the time. That's where he used to play -- that's where he lives. Long Cove has always been one of my top four or five courses I've played in the entire world. I was over there the other day, haven't been there in a few years and it was fun to play. Jim and I did a lot of playing here in the early '80s when I was first starting.

Q. How did you develop that relationship?

ROCCO MEDIATE: He was my first teacher back in 1980. My dad, at my high school graduation, he got me a summer's worth of lessons from Jim at Westmoreland Country Club in the Pittsburgh area. He started me with -- he looked at my dad, it's a shame he's not here, he could tell you some stories, he was watching me first swing it and he goes to my dad, "You sure you want me to teach this boy"?

He said, "Yeah, he wants to learn how to play golf."

Who knew. Jim set me up real well with fundamentals and stuff like that. To this day, I still think he was one of the best golf swings ever, to this day. I haven't seen him this week, thought he would get here on Tuesday, but he's been busy so I'm going to try to catch him today.

Q. At that time when you were coming up here and playing, was it a realistic thought that you would be playing on the PGA TOUR at some point?

ROCCO MEDIATE: No. I never really thought about it until -- in '84, my senior year, I had been playing golf all of five years and I said, I'm going to give it a try, I don't not, because in ten years, I don't want to say, boy, I wonder if I could have made it and I'm still here.

I never really aspired to be a professional when I was in high school. I never -- I didn't know that I could because I didn't start playing until I was a junior or senior in high school. It's been a fun ride so far.

Q. What did you think you wanted to be?

ROCCO MEDIATE: I had no idea. My dad has cut hair for 40 years. Being around that my whole life, I didn't know that I wanted to do, but I always had that to go to if I wanted to, but I never learned or anything. But it was there any wanted it. I started to enjoy this and I just somehow got out here and somehow stayed out here all these years, so I had gotten better, obviously.

Now, without Jim's help early, I can't say -- you know what I mean, the first guys that work with you are the most important, when you're young. I was 16 when I met him, so I wasn't that young. He always instilled in me fundamentals, fundamentals, grip, good grip. I remember him throwing balls at me -- he would tell me when we would do something, he would stab standing me and watching me and if I didn't do it, I would have a bunch of welts on my butt because the golf ball would be zinging. He made sure I had my hands on the club right, sitting right, fundamentals. Not that I do them perfectly, but my hands are still on the club good to this day and I think that's what's given me the longevity.

Q. Could you talk about how your swing has changed, you went through a period where you were much heavier than you are now and your back a little bit?

ROCCO MEDIATE: Well, pre-surgery, which was before '94, I was about maybe 50, 60 pounds heavier, I don't even know what I weigh now to tell you the truth. My pants are loose and that's fine with me. But I had more of a -- very much of a moving off the ball more so and I still move behind it but I was moving way behind it before and that size -- I played so much golf then that I timed it very well for years. I hit my ball really well those years. Then when I got hurt, I couldn't do that anymore because my back was so bad, it just said, no, you can't do that, it will hurt. So I tried over the years to stop so much motion. I still want motion but not too much. I don't want to be dead still over the ball. I move in behind it pretty good with my head and my left shoulder.

That's really the only change. It doesn't look like it used to but there are still similarities. It's like once you learn a certain way, it's hard to completely re-tool it, especially my age. I don't want to start over, I don't need to start over. I'm doing good things and it's just a matter of refining them a little bit, which is really just around the greens. 400 yards in I've become much better and that's why I've played decent over the last couple years.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Rocco and friends, thank you.

End of FastScripts....

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