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March 27, 2003

Rocco Mediate


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you, Rocco, for joining us for a few minutes. Great round today, 4 under par, 68. In your backyard here in Ponte Vedra Beach. You played well here last year.

ROCCO MEDIATE: Yeah, I had a good week last year and just tried to carry it over. It's fun playing at home, but it can be a bit nerve-wracking at times. I think we've got it down to a science now, so I enjoy the people following and the fact that they know I live here, so it's kind of fun.

Q. What are the pros and cons of being in your own backyard, you just get hit up for tickets and whatnot?

ROCCO MEDIATE: I know the course. I know where to hit -- I know the wind situations. The only bad thing about it if you can call it bad at no time, golf course is never quite this fast as far as the greens. The fairways weren't fast today, and the rough is never quite this high, so it's not in tournament conditions at all times. It can't be. There's so much play they can't do that and the grass is different in the summer. I know what the swirls of the winds do most of the time, and I just know how tournament holes play. I might play 10 or 15 rounds a year here but I go on certain holes and there's certain holes I like to hit certain shots on. We definitely have a slight advantage as far as visuals, but that doesn't equate in unless you can perform.

JOAN vT ALEXANDER: You got off to a quick start. Two birdies.

ROCCO MEDIATE: Yeah, I drove it in the first fairway which is all I was thinking about this morning when I got up. I thought how am I going to put the ball in the fairway. I hit an 8-iron.

I drove it on 2, hit a lousy 2-iron, shooting down in the fairway, hit it in the left rough. I hit some good shots. I made a couple good par putts. I made three par putts that were huge for me today. It kept the -- what am I trying to say, momentum going.

On 7. I didn't make one on 5 and 10 I made two beauties that kept me rolling.

Q. Rocco, how many people are in your gallery following you today just on average?

ROCCO MEDIATE: I don't know. How many people, honey, like two? I don't know, probably 10 or 15. I don't know, 10, 15 people.

Q. Mostly friends and family?

ROCCO MEDIATE: Yeah. I had to pay most of them to come, but it's no big deal. You've got to make it look good when you're home.

JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Can we go through your round? You've already done No. 1.

ROCCO MEDIATE: 2 I drove good, hit it left. Talking about your round is just so boring. What else do you want to know?

9 I hit it close and hit a sand wedge about a foot on 9.

11 I hit a good drive and a 4-wood. I knew it was too much club. It went the whole way to the back of the green and I putted off the fringe and made birdie. That was a good 2-putt, very fortunate.

10 I drove it good, I hit a 4-iron just on the left fringe. I misjudged the pinned there for sure. I thought it was more to the right and it was actually to the left. The left fringe and I putted by about 10 feet. It was hard to get the ball close to the hole where I was and I made it. That's probably why I birdied 11.

Oh, on 13 the wind was hard left-to-right and that front left pin which is just misery, you can't really mess with it. I tried to hit it just over the bunker into that slope and it just stayed up. I putted by about eight feet and I made that one.

I think I hit every fairway and every green coming in with the exception of 18, and 18 felt like my best tee shot of the day and it was in the water, so it just goes to show you.

Q. What kind of significance do you put into leading after one day?

ROCCO MEDIATE: None. What do I play, 12:45? Hopefully if the storms don't come? None really. It's hard to say. Hopefully no one will get to 5 under. I didn't see any scores. It doesn't really matter. The beauty of our game is you've got to do it for four days and if you don't, this day is worthless. You've got to do it for three more days and see what happens. The guy who's going to win is going to drive his ball in these fairways because if he doesn't do that the rest of the game, doesn't work.

Q. Talk about the first three days having perfect weather. The course has been a little quick. You wake up, you've got about an inch of rain.

ROCCO MEDIATE: Did it rain that much? I didn't realize. It still rained.

Q. It rained a lot.

ROCCO MEDIATE: What Fred has done over -- when I left for Bay Hill a week ago -- 12, 13, 14 days ago, whenever the heck it was, this course was literally unplayable. It was so wet that he told me the rough on the 9th hole was nine inches high. He doesn't touch it for a week or ten days because it was just -- we got 13 inches, 18 inches of rain in like 25 days. When I came back from the Match Play that following Monday we got the four inches in, it wasn't even a day, like half a day. For that course to firm up like it did they must have busted their butts for a long time for it to make it like it is now. It was just a little softer. It wasn't mushy. The ball was in the fairway and picked up some mud. There was some fairly exciting shots with the mud. The only bad thing about having mud, the people watching don't know there's mud on there. They just think they're horrible shots. The ball goes sideways and you can't do anything about it. If it doesn't rain today it'll go away.

Q. Rocco, how scary is it for you to be saying nice things about your putter and what's your thought process of getting away from the long putter?

ROCCO MEDIATE: Well, I used long for all of those years because of my back. That's why I quit back in 1991 is when I first started using it. Then I started to feel better over the years and then the end of last year I said that's enough. I'm just going to give it a try, and I did it top-secretly in the middle of December. No one saw it. I was back in the back here putting and putting, and Randy Sonnier and I worked hours and hours on this thing, and he's always been telling me over the years you putt great with it. I said that's fine but I can't practice because it hurts. It stops me so I'm not using it. Then I finally decided I feel so much better I'm going to at least give it -- I'm not going to give it one week and then if I putt lousy I am going to quit. I'm going to give it a chance. I put a lot of time into it before Kapalua and just got ripped like you can't believe at Kapalua, all my so-called friends, Vijay and Sluman. In fact Vijay was so bad I almost didn't use it at Kapalua.

Q. What did he say to you?

ROCCO MEDIATE: First one you miss you'll change. Oh, give it a week. What the heck is the matter with you? We're playing the practice rounds and I'd missed a few and he said you would have made that with a long putter. I wanted to kill him is what I wanted to do. I ended up beating him that week by a shot for the tournament, and we played the last day, and I made everything the last day on him. It was perfect. I beat him by one. It's all in fun. I mean, we've talked about it since then. It's all in fun. After the round he said maybe you ought to keep using that putter. They have a lot of fun with me. It's gotten better. I've worked, worked on it, and so far so good.

Q. Rocco, in your group today one of the guys Jonathan Byrd, one of the young players on this Tour, what are your impressions of him and his game?

ROCCO MEDIATE: Jonathan has got the whole package. I said this before. He hung in there today. The front nine he was a little wild, and then he started to get real solid, I mean, really solid. He's got it all. He's one of those young guys -- I think all the young guys are going to do a great job in continuing what the Tour is up to, but he's good. He hits it really far and he's a really good kid. I think he shot one under or even today. He hung in there all day. Yeah, he's going to be something. He's already won. What is he, 22? Yeah, that's great.

Q. Rocco, with this being a home tournament, is there more pressure or is there more of a comfort zone here?

ROCCO MEDIATE: There's not really pressure unless I put it on myself because like I said to Linda yesterday, I want to play good every week that I play, but this week is more special because it's our championship. If I wasn't from here I'd still put the same -- it's actually a lot more fun to live here and have people out here that you know all the time and play the golf course with you when it's not in tournament conditions and then see you play it like this. It's good that way. I don't think there's any more pressure unless I do it to myself or we do it to ourselves as players. The fact that we play here more than other golf courses doesn't mean anything if you're not playing good.

JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you, Rocco.

End of FastScripts....

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