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January 12, 2003

Rocco Mediate


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you, Rocco, for joining us for a few minutes. Excellent round today. A little opportunity there on 18. I'm sure you're a little disappointed.

ROCCO MEDIATE: I tried to wrap that in there. Maybe the first week with that putter, it might have been too much. I felt good over it. That grain is so tough to move to the right. You can just see it sticking up there. I had this perfect spot I picked out. I ran it right over that spot, but it just got moving. I had speed on it, though.

When you have a chance to do that, not that I've had many chances to shoot that kind of score, you can't be lolligagging. Didn't feel like I just roasted it. It was happening. I made a good putt coming back. That would have been a lousy six.

Q. Ever shot 23-under and finished seven or eight out of the lead?

ROCCO MEDIATE: I can't say that I have (laughter). That may be my second lowest. I won Buick in 2000 with 20. That's probably my second lowest score. With what Ernie did, I mean, what can you say? Hopefully he gets to 30.

Q. He already is.

ROCCO MEDIATE: He birdied 16?

Q. Yes.

ROCCO MEDIATE: Shocking. Maybe he gets to 32 or 31, which would be phenomenal. This golf course, it's not easy, it really isn't. If you start miss-hitting shots, you're not shooting scores here. For us to come out as a TOUR, as 36 guys that play out here, play this good of golf, that means we as a whole are getting a lot better. Usually these scores are silly. I mean, I told Pete, I didn't even know what the heck I was doing, I got done and I said, "I almost shot 10-under." He goes, "No, you did shoot 10-under." "Oh, it's almost 11-under." Then I was mad.

What KJ did yesterday, I mean, what Ernie has been doing all week, with the exception of two swings Ernie has made, he might have been 36-under or 35-under. He makes those two doubles. Easy to do.

It was funny, I watched Ernie play the last three holes. I was watching TV in the room. He hits the 3-wood into the stuff on the left. I'm like, I just couldn't believe he hit that shot. I'm sure he didn't either. I hit it three feet from the hazard today with a driver. It's easy to do. I almost got bit.

You fall asleep a little bit, you see what happens. I think as a TOUR, we're getting so much better, we're so much more prepared. 10 years when I first came out -- well, the middle of my career, I remember I would work really hard on the off-season to come out, I'd usually have a pretty good West Coast. A lot of guys didn't do anything; they just came out. Remember the old adage, "The year starts in Florida." If you start in Florida, you're toast. Except for Tiger, he's different. Look at now, look what's happening. I think that's pretty cool in our sport.

Q. Do you think that is even more amazing when there's 18 first-time winners here, probably most of them haven't seen this course before this week?

ROCCO MEDIATE: Yeah. The winds were different, not that they were strong, but they were different than I've ever seen them. This is my third year here. Usually the Trades are blowing or the Konas are blowing. We had in between all week here. Actually all of us were going, "What's going on here?" You just adjust. The last two days the wind was kind of the same, first two days a little bit different.

It is amazing. We're really, really good. We're the best at what we do in the whole world. That's the bottom line. It's like I was talking to Mark Rolfing this morning. "Man, the integrity of this golf course, with no wind." I said, "Mark, can you put us on the hardest golf course in the history of the world with no wind, we will destroy it, period, as a TOUR. We'll kill it" that's what happened here. 10, 15 miles an hour winds one day. Today was nothing, just a slight breeze.

Q. This week is obviously an anomaly with lack of winds. It's rare anymore you see a regular TOUR event won in single digits under par. If you guys are good, which no one doubts, should maybe they start setting some of the courses up a little bit tougher?

ROCCO MEDIATE: You wouldn't see me complain at all about that. Vijay and I were talking about that all day today. There were some pins today -- if the wind was blowing 30, they're fine. The wind is blowing five or 10, they're easy. All of a sudden you give us a green light, if you're playing, you are just going to tear it out of the hole.

I totally agree with that. Set it up hard where it's fair. It's like Vijay and I were talking, what happened to par? Where did it go? US Open is still par. Most majors are still par. They made Augusta, not that even par is going to win.

Q. What if you had a US Open every week on TOUR?

ROCCO MEDIATE: You wouldn't see me complain at all. I don't think a lot of guys would like that. I would rather shoot 3-under par to win than 23-under par and finish whatever I'm going to finish.

Q. On the other hand, what does it matter or mean if players are winning every week at 20, 25, 22, 24? Does that mean anything?

ROCCO MEDIATE: I think it's more exciting for the galleries. I think they'd rather see birdies than 20 straight pars, whatever. I guess we're entertainers. I think it would be good if we had some of both. But, you know, like next week, I haven't played the new one, they redid it, low scores there. Phoenix, if it's nice, low scores there. Pebble shuts down because it's real tough, nasty golf. LA is not too bad. Although LA, look at the PGA Championship. I remember back in '91, what did I shoot? Freddie won in 1990. I think I shot 12-under or 13-under, finished second. Now, that's not second anymore.

Q. What kind of statement does Ernie make, win Sun City by eight, he's going to win this by seven or eight, what does that say to him as it relates to Tiger?

ROCCO MEDIATE: I don't see a problem with Ernie challenging Tiger for the next however many years he wants to have it happen. I don't know Tiger that well, but I certainly think Tiger would love that to happen. He likes to be pushed. I was watching some of the replays of the 2001, they had the playoff, 2000, just to hear is voice saying, "We were hitting these shots, this, back and forth." We all love that. When you're the No. 1 player, No. 2, No. 3, whatever, that's what they want. You want back in the Connors/McEnroe. I think he would relish that. I think he would be better. It would make Ernie better, Phil better, Vijay. They're all in the same boat. I hope that rivalry does happen.

Ernie doesn't miss anything. He's not missing a part of his game. What is he bad at? Nothing. I mean, he drives it 400, chips and putts as well as anybody on the planet, he's a good iron player. He has been for how many years?

What I think happened was, it's my opinion, you may think it's pretty stupid, but before Tiger, the big guns just kind of ruled the roost. They just kind of won a lot of big tournaments. Then Tiger came and said, "You're not going to do that anymore." That probably made them go, "Why is this happening to me now? Why couldn't he come along 10 years from now?"

I think now they're wanting that rivalry, they're wanting him to push. I've always told people, not that I'm in that echelon of players I'm talking about, but I use Tiger to my advantage to make me get as good as I can at my age, not to challenge him for the No. 1 player in the world, that's not going to happen, but to be able to challenge him every once in a while and be able to compete with him, where in five to 10 years from now I can tell my kids, "I beat Tiger that week." That would be cool.

If you use it as a negative, say "I can't beat him," you're going to lose. Pretty simple.

Q. Yes or no answers aren't part of your staple?

ROCCO MEDIATE: No. If you give me multiple choice, I'll still make my own answer up. It will be A, B, C, D, then Mine (laughter).

Q. Any reason you aren't playing Sony?

ROCCO MEDIATE: I got four in a row after that. My body doesn't like that. It doesn't really deal with six in a row very well.

Q. How was the first week with the new putter?

ROCCO MEDIATE: You know, I can make a slight assessment, but not a different assessment. I hit the ball really close to the hole for two and a half days. I'm talking I had made a lot of five-footers, six-footers, in, a couple 20-footers. But mostly inside 10 feet, I made most of them. I didn't do that a lot with my other putter this week.

These are tough greens. I was hitting it close enough to where I didn't have a lot of -- I had a ton of five-footers and six-footers for birdie. Probably three-quarters of the birdies I made were five or six feet.

I'm comfortable. The last putt I had for birdie, I didn't see the board. I missed my name, I missed the first board. I walked up looking, it zipped by me, I couldn't see it. I felt like if I made that, I wanted to make birdie anyway, I was over the putt, kind of laughing to myself going, "Here I am in this situation the first week with this thing." It's a good sign.

The only thing I said, I knew it was going to be bouncy because it was in a nasty area, I knew it was going to move to the right. I'm just going to blast it right through. It just got going, I knocked it three feet by.

I feel like I'm close with it. I'll just keep working with it. I have one week under my belt, it worked fine, except the first day. I was a bit out of sorts, as they say. It just got better and better. I think I'll be all right.

Q. How long was the putt on 18?

ROCCO MEDIATE: I don't know. Seven, eight feet. Seven or eight feet.

Q. What about the eagle?

ROCCO MEDIATE: That far. It was inside a foot. That's a nice eagle, just tap-in, go to the next hole. I had a gimme on 4 and 5. That kind of got me rolling. Then Vijay and I both birdied 8. I birdied 9, 10, 12, all kinds of holes. Just never stopped till the last hole.

JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you, Rocco, for joining us.

ROCCO MEDIATE: You got it.

End of FastScripts....

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