June 15, 1994
RICHARD SKYZINSKI: Rocco has got a tight schedule to adhere
to. He is not going to have time to stick around afterwards when
we are finished with the questions. Get whatever you need while
he is up here, he is going to have to run. Rocco, as all of you
know is from nearby Greensburg. I guess, Rocco, that is where
we start. How does it feel to come home and play an Open close
ROCCO MEDIATE: Feels good. I was here in '83 follow Watson in
'83 every -- I think every hole, and it is hard to believe that
I am here playing the tournament which -- it's a lot of fun. It
will be a lot of fun.
RICHARD SKYZINSKI: Tell us about your physical condition and
how you are doing and, how that relates to what you might expect
ROCCO MEDIATE: My physical condition is good, except for an area
on my back. That is the only part that is not working out. I have
got a lot of pain right now and a lot of tightness, I guess you
can call it. So it is hard to say. I really don't know what to
expect. I will tee off on Thursday, and the weather will help.
I mean, it will be in the high 90s which is fine with me. It will
definitely help my back a little bit.
RICHARD SKYZINSKI: Questions.
Q. Rocco, what makes this course always the story whenever
there is an event here as opposed to the players?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Hardest golf course in North America. I am not
kidding you. It is probably the hardest Open test you will ever
see anywhere. And a lot of the other players don't even know.
Some of the guys asked me some questions; I said only thing Oakmont
does for the Open is grow the rough. Fairways are always like
this, always the same width. Greens are usually faster, probably
just about as firm; all they do is grow rough. They don't do anything
funny. That is why it -- I mean, you can basically call Oakmont
two weeks ago and say, looked at other courses who couldn't hold
the Open; can you do it? They will be able to do it. No other
course can do that - I don't think.
RICHARD SKYZINSKI: How many times have you played here?
ROCCO MEDIATE: It is hard to say. I bet you I have played somewhere
around the 30 to 40 times. I haven't played a lot, but I played
more than most.
Q. Rocco, what does your back do to your backswing? Does it
inhibit tee shots; anything in particular?
ROCCO MEDIATE: It is just inhibiting, period. I can't really be
myself like I was telling some other people. I can still hit it,
though. I am hitting it decent right now. Yesterday I played and
played pretty good, but one thing yesterday I did find out is
playing with Janzen who is a close friend and I have known him
for years and years, I am not nearly as prepared as he is; nor
should I be. I haven't played for five months. Seeing him play
yesterday, I mean, you can just tell -- I mean, I played okay,
but there was no similarities whatsoever as far as how good he
is playing. So it was kind of a good day yesterday, but it kind
of -- I know that I am not really quite -- I am not nearly as
sharp as I wish I was.
Q. How about the favorites; who do you think the course favors?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Well, it is not -- not a lot of drivers will be
hitting unless it pours down rain next 24 hours. I don't think
that is going to happen. It is hard to say right now. If it was
a little wetter and drier, favors guys like Scott Simpson Larry
Mize, Corey (Pavin), but right now, really doesn't -- a lot of
irons off the tee and fairways are big when you hit irons to them.
They get smaller hitting drivers, but I still -- my pick still
right now is Lee (Janzen). I have played a lot of golf with him.
I played with him first two rounds last week in Westchester and
yesterday and I don't know how he can play any better.
Q. How is the rough from when you played here couple of weeks
ago; evened out?
ROCCO MEDIATE: In some spots it is-- you can't even see the ball.
I mean, on the left of the 11, that is one place I do remember
because I was -- on Monday, I hit a ball in there; hit 2 tee shots
up on the fairway, one, three feet left of the fairway. It took
me five minutes to find it. I was this far off. (indicating approx.
one foot) the fairway, second cut. You couldn't see it. It so
thick over there. If you hit it in the rough, you are-- basically
it will cost you a shot. You can't hold the green from the rough
anyway even if you can hit to it. So it is a perfect Open setup.
I think they have done a marvelous job. I told a couple of guys
this morning when I was eating, I said, it is perfect for this
tournament, firm, fast; rough is very penalizing. You can't get
out. It doesn't matter, you can't hold the green anyway. That
is how it should be here.
Q. Do you have any stories about the Church Pew bunkers, your
thoughts about that nice picture for the rest of the country to
ROCCO MEDIATE: I haven't had any weird stories for those. I think
I remember '83, the grass between the bunkers was much higher,
if I recall. It was a long time ago. I have never hit the -- I
hit into them, but not in the middle of them. I hit the sides
of them where you can get out.
Q. Curious to see what it would be like?
ROCCO MEDIATE: No, I have no curiosity whatsoever about those
things. I don't even look over there.
Q. Rocco, what is the key to keeping your patience on a course
like Oakmont, you know you are going to struggle at times; just
try to keep it to a minimum?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Yeah, you are not going to go out-- more than likely
you are not going to go out and make a whole lot of birdies this
week. Pars are golden here. It is all patience. You are going
to hit a lot of shots-- the field will hit a lot of shots this
week that look really good in the air and bad when they stop rolling.
That is the thing about here. A lot of greens just won't accept
a shot that is slightly miss-hit. It will just swat it off to
the side and that is where you have to hold on because I still
think somewhere around par or higher is going to win as the golf
course is playing now. So anywhere around par, I think, is a marvelous
score here. 71, 2, 3, 74 even or maybe even one 74 you get away
with here. Most Opens; probably not. Last year you would have
had no chance.
Q. Rocco, have you played with Palmer before and what is your
feeling about playing with him?
ROCCO MEDIATE: I played many, many, many times. I am very fortunate
that way. It was fun, actually. I played with him yesterday and
play with him Thursday, Friday, hopefully -- I have-- this will
be my second major with him. I paired with him at Crooked Stick
in 1991. I feel fortunate that I have been able to play with him
twice in two majors. I played a lot with him in Greensburg area.
It is just wonderful playing. He is still the man. He has still
got it. They were following them - I don't know how many people
- we had there-- had to be 15,000 people following us around.
It was phenomenal. A lot of fun. He is really not hitting it too
bad. He is hitting it pretty good.
RICHARD SKYZINSKI: Anything else?
Q. Rocco, given the conditions of your back, if you have a
ball in the rough, is that going to affect your swing? Are you
going to flinch at that one?
ROCCO MEDIATE: I could, yes, I could. It is hard to practice chipping
on the rough with this right now; same out on the deep stuff.
I haven't done much of that. I am still like -- like it is so,
you know, my body is basically still in shock from what I have
done. It has been tight the last six months, all the working,
the weight loss all the strengthening. Now I have thrown golfing
into the whole thing. Last week it was successful, but the weekend
I started to feel what I feel right now. So I am sitting kind
of funny. It is just going to take sometime, I guess, hopefully
not too much more, but if it takes a lot -- I really don't care
how long it takes just so long as I can get better. But it definitely
-- it does affect it when I hit it in the rough.
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