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March 23, 2002

Rocco Mediate


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: We'd like welcome Ponte Vedra Beach resident, Rocco Mediate. He shot in the third round 69 today and is minus 6 on the week. He is currently tied for third.

You played some solid golf today, Rocco. You avoided some big numbers, which seems to be a key out there.

ROCCO MEDIATE: Yeah, it is. It's just got to be -- you got to be clean here. You got to not make mistakes or you are going to get crushed.

I was pretty clean until the last hole. (Laughs) I hit it in the water, but I got out with 5, so that's fine.


Q. Can you express a little bit about what you feel about this event and what would it mean to you to win it?

ROCCO MEDIATE: It's the best field -- it's the great -- one the Top-5 best tournaments in the world, period. It's the best field of all time every year. Whether you call it a major or not, the players don't really care because we know how hard it is to win. Even if you play well here you feel like you have done something because you have got the best guys, everybody is here, and you have got one of most demanding courses. Whether it is the best or not, who cares. It's the most demanding, and it does not allow for you to make mistakes.

When you make mistakes it makes you look quite foolish. It could be mistakes by inches, that's just -- I enjoy that part, though, because you got to shoot away from flags and stuff like that. It is just -- it's a major to me, same thing.

Q. In the context of the fact that everyday you are home, you could just walk out the door and see part of this course and everything, does it mean a lot for you to be able to play in it every year?

ROCCO MEDIATE: Absolutely. It definitely means a lot, because I live here and -- but the weird thing is, when we come back -- when I come back, like come back from Bay Hill, the golf course has become something else because when we play it it's nothing like this. The greens are 12 or 13, at least right now in certain spots -- and we never see that, because it is a resort. But once Freddie gets to do his magic, it becomes a fast, nasty golf course and it's neat to live here. But it does have its pitfalls as far as playing this course, then coming to the tournament because it is a different animal.

Q. You are a veteran out here and Lord knows how good you could have been if you hadn't had a few problems along the way and things like this, but I haven't seen you with that look in your eye, like this, since you really put yourself in contention for the U.S. Open last year. Are you going to look back on that and take something from that to this round tomorrow?

ROCCO MEDIATE: Yeah, even last week at Bay Hill, I felt the same way. You have to play really smart and hit the ball in the right spot on these greens, same as last week. I felt that way today because the first two days it was soft. It was not easy, but the ball would hold the green. Today it was starting to let go a little bit and tomorrow it's really going to let go. If you don't put it in the right spot off the tee, you are done. The game is over and that's the most important aspect tomorrow.

But, yeah, I am looking forward to the challenge. I want to feel what it feels like to be close or leading the tournament with three holes to play. I want to see what I have left, if I have anything left. But that's what I want to do. I don't know how it will happen but I'd like to see.

Q. Given how tough this tournament is, are you surprised when you look above you on the leaderboard and see two guys who are not that experienced?

ROCCO MEDIATE: I am not surprised because those guys -- if you are on this Tour, you have a lot of game because they come here to this golf course and perform well. It doesn't mean that I don't know how to explain it, but it doesn't surprise me, I should say. It won't surprise me if someone goes and shoots 66 tomorrow and blows everybody away. It could happen because that's how stars are made in certain situations like this. I won't be surprised. I don't see anything out of the ordinary of what is going on right now. They are just hitting their ball, probably driving it in the fairway and hitting the ball in the right spot and they are making a good score.

Q. The characteristics of this tournament, though, is stars aren't made here, and nobody has ever made this their first victory. Guys like you, Mark Calcavecchia, David Toms and you, do you think experience at a certain point takes over here?

ROCCO MEDIATE: I think it does. Everybody, David and Mark winning majors. I think those guys have the edge on experience but it's still a matter how you look at it. You can call it whatever you want, but it's point A to point B. How can I put my ball here. That's all you look at. That happens for all of these 18 holes. It is more penalizing here if you don't. The guy asked me last night what are you going to think about tonight. I said, really nothing. What about a score? I said, no score thinking. I want to hit the fairways. If I can think do that I can keep building and keep getting better. Experience -- I wouldn't be surprised that one of those guys win here but I wouldn't be surprised if one of us would win too. It could happen the same way.

Q. What is pleasing you the most this week?

ROCCO MEDIATE: I am doing everything pretty good. I am not doing anything tremendous but everything pretty good. I am hitting a lot of good iron shots. I know where to put the ball over here but I haven't seen some of this wind recently. I know where to put the ball and I am happy to be doing it so far. Except for 18.

Q. You had shots on 8 and 9 that may have kept the round going for you. Talk about this a little bit.

ROCCO MEDIATE: 8 I hit a 3-iron. I just hit it a little to the right. The wind caught it. It was a little right of the green. I used the back-stop; made about 5-footer for par.

9 was a big one because I hit it in the left rough. Fairway is only 300 yards wide so I could see why I missed it. I had to lay up but I practiced -- what I do when I am here I go down to the end of the 9th fairway by the bridge. I hit 2-irons over that tree on the green, just practice, so I told Pete, I said, if I can get this ball somewhere down there, I got a shot at reaching this green in 3. He said, what are you are talking about. I said, trust me. I didn't get it far enough, 235 to the front. I had the shape to put it on the green; was kind of lucky, if I can get it around the green I figure I could make 5. I made easy 5. It was a lot better.

Q. How far was that lay-up shot?

ROCCO MEDIATE: I tried to hit -- it 130 but I only hit it about 115. Out of that rough, I mean if it flies and it goes in the creek, no, I'd rather make a 6 and a 7 or whatever.

Q. Given the conditions out there, the way the course is playing, how many shots of the lead do you have to be to have a chance tomorrow?


Q. Just the field in general, how close do you have to be in these conditions course playing like this?

ROCCO MEDIATE: Probably 4, 5. Unless you are Tiger he can be wherever he wants to be and still make a run but we don't count him. I'd say 4 or 5, if you go out and shoot 66 or 7 that's 6 or 5, actually, but 3-under -- what is leading?

Q. 9.

ROCCO MEDIATE: So yeah, I'd say 4-, 5-under something like that. Who knows.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Let's go through your birdies. Started out with birdie on No. 1.

ROCCO MEDIATE: Good drive and wedge about six feet.


ROCCO MEDIATE: 3-wood, 9-iron about ten feet.

7 driver 4-iron about six feet.


ROCCO MEDIATE: 11 I pitched it out, hit it short of the front bunker, hit ridiculous pitch up there about four feet, made it.


ROCCO MEDIATE: Did I birdie -- 13, bogeyed. Yeah, I 3-putted. That pin was -- I mean, to get it on that tier was kind of lucky but I just aimed a little bit left. It went down. I 3-putted from about 30 feet.


ROCCO MEDIATE: I hit a driver and 4-iron about 30 feet and 2-putted. Left of the hole.


ROCCO MEDIATE: I hit it in the water. Boo-boo. I made a boo-boo. But I made -- then I hit a 5-iron in middle of the green 2-putted. Well short middle, but down below.

Q. You hit some of your best shots this week on some of the toughest holes - shot yesterday on 18 and the shot today on 7. You played 14 halfway decent. Is that characteristics of you out here?

ROCCO MEDIATE: Yeah, I enjoy the harder holes and I just -- like I said, you got to bear down on every -- it just never ends. It's relentless out there. You get through a -- 17, like then you get to 18, here we go again, you get like 30 seconds to rest. It just comes up and hits you again, it is all day. I enjoy the harder holes, I always have. I like hitting my long clubs and it's just this course brings it out of you.

Q. Expect extra energy from the hometown crowd tomorrow?

ROCCO MEDIATE: Probably. There's a bunch today. There's a few mad at me because I couldn't stop and sign autographs because I had to come here. They probably won't be happy. There's nothing I can do.

Q. If you think -- if you had never won a tournament yet and you were in the position on top of this leaderboard what would you be thinking going into a Sunday round? How hard would it be to try focus and getting everything right?

ROCCO MEDIATE: I'd be really more nervous than I will be tomorrow. I will have some nerves which is good, but I would be more because I won't know what to expect because I had been close here before -- anyway, I remember when I had a chance my first -- when that was -- I was pretty nervous, but I am pretty high strung as it is, so I probably was more so than the others. But if those two guys just figure on what got them where they are, how they get to 9-under, whatever they finish, then just do it again. Easier said then done but that's how it has to be done.

Q. Regardless of where you finish tomorrow is there a certain sense of satisfaction that this is the best you played near five years after doing so well earlier in your career?

ROCCO MEDIATE: Yes, it is because I am back to where I feel as good as I did before I got hurt right now. I haven't had any problems for like seven or eight -- four, five months now which is huge. And I feel like I can keep doing this if I want. Two years ago I didn't know that I could. Actually last November I didn't know that I could. But now I know that I can because I have done some things and that's the satisfying -- I mean, yeah I have played good here a few times but it has been since 96 I think was my last time I played good at all. Finished third or fourth or something right.

Q. Right. Do you know when your last round in the 60s was here?

ROCCO MEDIATE: I do not. I have no idea. I know 96 I put two good ones on them on the weekend though. Can use one of those tomorrow.

Q. 6 birdies in a row.

ROCCO MEDIATE: Yeah that would be good. That would about take care of everything.

Q. You keep joking about calling yourself a part-time player 22 times. Is that by choice?


Q. Physical reasons?


Q. How has that helped or made a difference in your career?

ROCCO MEDIATE: It's by choice, I still wish I could do better, with my boys and my wife, I don't -- I don't want to play 25 or 6 or 7 events or spend eight hours a day practicing.

I love what I do. Love it. And I put lots of time in too. It is not like I just don't do anything, but I still feel like I should be around more. Especially at their ages, see what you guys are getting me into. And it's a choice. I am not limited physically anymore at all. But I just -- I try to get out as much as I put in but I get more. I have been able to hit my ball good always. And I think I get away with a lot more than other people do because I have that. Where I suffer is putting. Not all the time but, you know, sometimes, but yeah it's definitely by choice. I am definitely a part-time player and my wife and I joke about that but it's true.

Q. Any one or two highlights you were glad you were home for just this year?

ROCCO MEDIATE: Just going to the first day of school new school, there's so many things, teeth falling out here, there.

Q. Yours?

ROCCO MEDIATE: Not mine. Not yet but I don't have much time for that especially with Rocco. Just hanging around watching them do their thing, and taking them for rides. That's what -- I don't know, I'd rather do that then spend eight hours a day everyday. I spend my eight hours when they are in school I practice.

Q. Phil 5 putted 10th green today.

ROCCO MEDIATE: Easy to do in that spot.

Q. Do you feel like it's not all that surprising?

ROCCO MEDIATE: If you can get the ball and start missing them they keep going 3, four feet by. Then they go back. There's spike marks. Then you are toast. That's what I mean, it doesn't stop there. I mean especially that pin, that green was dead back there. It was dead when I went through. So he just -- it happens. I love Phil's interviews yesterday they were spectacular, I thought.

Q. Are you close with the other players that reside in Ponte Vedra; is there any sort of kind of bragging rights involved with if you were to finish the top local player?

ROCCO MEDIATE: No, we're all kind of -- just practice -- we're back there sometimes, and some of us are good friends; some of us are friends or acquaintances but there's a one of us here, no. There's none of that going on not that I know of.

End of FastScripts....

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