September 21, 2001
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: We'd like to thank Rocco Mediate for spending some time with us. Nice round today, 68.
ROCCO MEDIATE: Thank you.
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: There has to be something said about living near this course.
ROCCO MEDIATE: Yeah, I'm obviously extremely comfortable here. Unfortunately, that doesn't get the job done most of the time, but it certainly helps. I was a bit nervous on 10 yesterday, teeing off, being at home in front of everybody. It was a little nerve-wracking, a good nervous. Not like afraid, but a good nervous. It's fine. I mean, I can tell the people that are pulling for me, most of them. Coming down 18 was kind of nice. A lot of people in the stands, so that was cool. It was a lot of fun.
Q. You being a member here, can they have something done about the sprinklerhead on 17?
ROCCO MEDIATE: First of all, the 2-iron shot, I don't know what -- I'm still thinking about that. What the heck I did there, I have no idea. But, yeah, I mean, who knows. That ball might have stayed in the rough. Might have been fine. I don't know. But it was only that big (indicating several inches).
Q. So you just flopped it up onto the green?
ROCCO MEDIATE: I thought I hit a pretty good shot when it came up, but whether it bounces, I don't know. It could have went up a foot or stayed in the rough. Being a veteran, I didn't let it bother me. I just tried to get out of there with 4, just leave and try to birdie 18.
Q. I know it's early, but what would it mean for you to win here?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Oh, it would be very special, in front of everybody, in front of -- almost all of my family. Except for my sister, but a lot of friends. It would be cool. It would be my -- it would probably be my best, as far as what I would remember the most. I mean, believe me, the other ones were great, but winning at home doesn't happen that often.
Q. How many times do you reckon you've played the course?
ROCCO MEDIATE: That's a hard question.
Q. Is it in the hundreds?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Yeah, probably in that area. Probably around that area. 75, 100 times. 75 or 100 times probably. I guess.
Q. When did you first play it?
ROCCO MEDIATE: That's a great question. I don't know. Probably the early 80s. Probably early 80s sometime.
Q. You are obviously swinging pretty well?
ROCCO MEDIATE: I'm swinging pretty good, yeah. I think I got a little tired today, unfortunately. I hate to say that, but I think I got a little tired coming in. I felt fine but I just lost it a little coming in. I haven't got much sleep the last two nights. I up at 5:00 this morning, and then the might before, Niko was up twice in the middle of the night. So I didn't get much sleep then, either so it kind of caught me a little bit. But it doesn't make any difference.
Q. How much of it today was swinging well, playing well, and how much of it was the home course knowledge?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Well, no matter how well you know this place, if you don't drive it in the fairway, you're done. So that was the main goal. I only missed a couple fairways today. And the ones I missed never really hurt me because I didn't miss them by that much. You know, I missed 9 by a yard. I missed 12 by a yard. That's about it. That's about it. I only missed a few greens. And I bogeyed a couple par 3s, but so has everybody else. Those things are hard.
Q. We had that heavy rain yesterday and softened up the entire course, and especially greens, yet the scores, I don't think, are atrociously low?
ROCCO MEDIATE: No. It's the greens. The greens are difficult. They are putting some pins out there that are just really hard. That's why. If this place was firm, I don't know that 7-under would be winning. I think it would be like 3 or 4 (-under).
Q. Olin was saying that course familiarity doesn't get as much credit from the public as it should, in terms of seeing the same course every year and knowing exactly where it is?
ROCCO MEDIATE: When I get up and hit a shot from these holes I know exactly -- I don't even think about it. Like on No. 10 today, coming through after -- I hit it just right where I was looking, but it looks like it's going in the next county. And the people behind there are going, "Oh, he hit it way right." And I'm looking around going, "No, it's in the middle of the fairway." Because when you hit a shot off that tee and you don't see it -- if it looks like it's going too far right and you don't see it, it's perfect. I had 120 yards to the hole right in the middle of the fairway. This is on 10. There's shots like that that most guys try to go around that thing, but the further left you go, the more that rough comes in and the further you hit it left, you're done. There's a lot of holes like that that I know -- I mean like No. 3 today. Well, I know when it gets downwind, I can blast it out to the right. I hit a 4-iron to the green, the back left pin, which is silly, because I knew -- Brian Claar hit a beauty right down the center. I hit 3-wood down the front -- well, I hit a 20-yard -- straight off the hillside and it went way down the middle. It was so far out there. I could not believe how far it went, but it was miles, because I knew where it drive it. Just bang, bang.
Q. The other local (Arnold Palmer) didn't do so well today.
ROCCO MEDIATE: He's hurting, too. He's hurting pretty good, I think.
Q. He's kind of bandied about retired from competitive golf now and then, and fights the people who say, "No, you need to be out here because they love seeing you." Today, I don't know if you know, he had a 90 in the morning, didn't sign for a card and went out anyway as a non-competing marker.
ROCCO MEDIATE: The only way you'll stop him is to break his legs or -- I don't know what else you can do to stop him from playing. My caddy said, "Do you think he'll play this afternoon?" "Absolutely, unless he's hurting." If there's something wrong and he can't play, he won't play, but he won't let these people down. There's no way. I don't care what he shoots. It doesn't matter.
Q. You almost get the sense that if this were Bay Hill, he may have gone ahead and withdrawn?
ROCCO MEDIATE: No, he won't do that. He never -- I mean, the only way he's going to stop is when he just doesn't feel like playing anymore, and that may not be ever. He plays more golf than any of us.
Q. Do you know of anyone who loves the game more?
ROCCO MEDIATE: No.
Q. Anyone close?
ROCCO MEDIATE: No. I couldn't name anybody that I know.
Q. Do you ever play casual golf a lot?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Oh, yeah. Played many, many rounds with him. Many rounds.
Q. But as much as you play as a touring pro, do you find yourself just going out to play?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Yeah, I play with some -- yeah, not a lot. With kids and everything running around the house, I do that, but I do play, but not like that, no. He plays every day. Period. Doesn't care. But I think it's good that he played. They made an extra spot in the field. That's fine. That's what they should do. You know, because he would not feel right -- he felt better. Because guys, friends of mine are asking, "Well, is he taking up a spot in the field?" And I went, "No, but so what if he was?" I mean, he's who he is. You know, what else can you say? I have nothing else to say about that.
Q. You're doing just fine.
ROCCO MEDIATE: But I'm glad he's playing.
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Can we go through your round?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Sure. No. 2, I hit it a foot with a 9-iron. Boring. No. 3, I 2-putted from about 20 feet, driver and a 4-iron on No. 3. 6, I made eagle. I hit a 4-wood about 20, 25 feet. Probably 25 feet. Made that one.
Q. How far?
ROCCO MEDIATE: 241. 13, I banked it off the left edge of the front part of the green there and hit it an inch from the hole. I thought it went in.
Q. What did you have in there?
ROCCO MEDIATE: 126. Pitching wedge. 14, didn't I bogey 14? Who cares about bogeys. I hit two bad irons coming in, 14 and 17. I was aiming a little bit left unknowingly. Stupidly, I guess you could say. And I just hit it right where I was aiming. I mean, nothing else -- I don't have any excuses for that one, but I didn't have much of a lie. I hit it 20 feet, almost made it, actually, but I didn't have much of a lie. I hit two good shots to 16. I hit a driver and an 8-iron about eight -- about eight feet and made that.
Q. Can you think of some courses where the par 3s are so intricate as perhaps here?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Any U.S. Open. Augusta, they are kind of nasty there. I mean, most of the courses we play are, they are just challenging. They seem to be getting longer, too. They all -- Pebble Beach, there's so many.
Q. Are they the key here?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Yeah. I mean, I like to hit long irons, so I'm not real afraid of them. They may jump up and bite me on the weekend, but I'm not afraid of them. I know how to hit them. I enjoy hitting 2- and 3-irons to targets that are very small. (Laughs). But they are definitely -- if you play -- if you play those the best of anybody this week, you'll definitely be right there. The rest of the golf course is tough, too. You've just got to drive good.
Q. You hit a 4-wood at No. 6.
ROCCO MEDIATE: Yes, sir.
Q. When is the last time you hit a 4-wood? Do you carry it regularly?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Always. It's a 4-Plus which is like a soft 3-wood.
Q. When is the last time you hit it?
ROCCO MEDIATE: What do you mean?
Q. The last time you hit this 4-wood?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Oh, I've had it for four years. I hit it this morning on the same ball on the green and No. 2 I hit it to lay up with, just short of the green about ten yards -- I mean, No. 3, on the first round. I'm mixing up what round.
Q. Where are you staying this week?
ROCCO MEDIATE: My parents.
Q. Where do they live?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Greensburg.
Q. Is that close to the Sheraton?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Yeah, seven, eight minutes.
Q. So whether you are leading or not at the end of the day or the end of this round --
ROCCO MEDIATE: Two more rounds to go, I think the weather is supposed to be good. So if I can keep -- first thing, I need to get some rest. I'll be good tomorrow. I'll be fine tomorrow. But, you know, just keep driving it in the fairway. That's all I'm going to try to do this week and the rest takes care of itself. I'm starting to putt the ball better which is nice. These greens are tough to read. I've been here a zillion times and I still have trouble reading them.
Q. How long have you been a member here?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Seven years. '95 -- about six years.
Q. Can you get us on Monday morning?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Probably. Never mind. You can't get on. (Laughs).
ROCCO MEDIATE: Way better. I'm smarter. That's a big comment coming from me. I'm definitely smarting on the golf course. I also know when the situation gets tense, I kind of try to slow down instead of, about, I would get a little quicker and hit a worse shot. I've been around. 16 years, I'd better be smarter. But I'm a better ball hitter. I'm a better short game -- everything has improved. I lost those two or three years where I didn't have anything, so I'm building back up and I think I'm almost -- you know, but I'm healthy, which is all I care about. That's all I care about.
Q. How many relatives did you have here today?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Oh, God, I don't know. My dad, my uncle, Linda's dad, uncle, mom, aunt -- I don't know how many. There's zillions of them. It nice. My mom, which is really cool -- my wife went out to one of the marshals and said, "Hey, this is Rocco's mom" -- my, mom's knee is all messed up. She had a knee replacement, and the guy rode her around 18 holes -- well, nine yesterday. They rode her around all day today, last 18 which made me feel good because she's not going to make it around. She's only 62, but they drove her around outside the ropes and she could watch the whole round. My dad watches me all the time, but my mom never gets to watch much. Seven or eight years ago -- now she's doing okay, but it was real nice to see her watching me play. It was real nice.
Q. Do you have a home here?
ROCCO MEDIATE: No. I stay with them. I get up here probably about a month out of the year, something like that. I was thinking about something eventually.
Q. I remember the Open you played well, had a 72 on Sunday. Are you over that or --
ROCCO MEDIATE: Oh, I'm over it. Because I definitely performed like I wanted to. I mean, it was real close to winning that tournament, and when I think about the last four holes, and I just about birdied them all, I would have won the tournament. I wasn't afraid of the situation. I made a couple little mistakes, I think, on 10 and 11, but other than that, I was solid. It bothers me, still -- I mean, but it doesn't bother me the way I played or anything. Obviously, I wish I would have won the National Open, but maybe next time.
Q. So you weren't near the playoffs; right?
ROCCO MEDIATE: I was two out of the playoff. It would have been better if I was three out of the playoff. (Laughter.) It would have been way better if I was three out of the playoff. That would have changed my whole mood.
ROCCO MEDIATE: Oh, she's watched me but not a lot. It was fun this way because she looked like she was enjoying herself. I was always looking at her, but with my glasses, she can't see when I'm looking, because I'm always seeing what she's up to. So, it was nice. It's like, you're trying to play, but also keep everybody -- I want to make sure she got around the course, because she wouldn't make it walking. She'd try, though, but she wouldn't make it.
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you, Rocco, for joining us.
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