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AMERICAN CENTURY CHAMPIONSHIP


July 15, 2015


Dave Cudney

Rick Rhoden

Jeremy Roenick

Mark Rypien

Billy Joe Tolliver


STATELINE, NEVADA

THE MODERATOR:¬† Welcome to the 2015 American Century Championship.¬† We have some men in here that are the favorites of this wonderful event‑‑ left to right, Rick Rhoden, eight‑time champion; Mark Rypien, defending champion, two‑time winner; Jeremy Roenick, who is about to break the ceiling on this thing, has been in the hunt every year this event almost and he's ready to win his first one; Billy Joe Tolliver, resplendent in white, I like it.
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  What's resplendent mean?  (Laughter).
THE MODERATOR:  I'll try to keep it to two syllables.  In the back is Dave Cudney, who is the sportsbook manager at Harrah's and Harveys, who has posted the odds on these gentlemen this week.  Let's start it off, Ryp, defending champion, let's talk a little bit about the game right now.  What kind of shape you're in.  Are you thinking you're going to be rolling from one year to the next?  What's it like?
MARK RYPIEN:¬† You talking physical shape or golf shape?¬† Golf‑wise, sporadic a little bit.¬† I've come here in search of not only finding peace and serenity and just the views, but also maybe a golf game.¬† And it's kind of interesting.¬† You do some things in the pro‑ams you probably wouldn't do in the tournament.
But all in all, just gotta try to find a routine and some rhythm that will get you ready for Friday.

Q.  Rick, why don't you talk about what kind of shape your game has been in.  It's been a couple of years since you've been at the top of the leaderboard.  Where are you right now with your game?
RICK RHODEN:  My game is good for about two weeks and bad for about two weeks.  I kind of hope it's good this week.  I can play as good as I ever could, but I just don't do it as often now.  Hopefully I'll have a good week.  I feel good about my game.
The course is in the best shape it's been in, I don't know, since last year, which was the best they'd ever been.  So it's real good, and the greens are fast.  I'm sure they're going to be faster by the weekend.  So as we all know up here, it usually comes down to driving your ball in play and putting, and whoever does that the best will probably win.

Q.¬† Jeremy, last year you were in the hunt and had the rain delay a little bit at the end there, and came back out, and Ryp got a little bit hot at the end with the eagle‑birdie‑ birdie finish.¬† But it sounds like you're ready to play again and put it back on.
JEREMY ROENICK:  I'm excited and hopefully I don't have to take a nap here in the clubhouse and wait for two hours.  That was an epic battle last year.  It was fun to be in there.  Unlike these three guys, I have a putter that's about 100 yards off of the 18th tee green here.  And that's where I've come from, because at one time I threw a putter from the green into the lake and now to be able to be here and have a chance to win, like last year, it's exciting for me.  To be here with these guys, that's the favorite part for me.
I think all of us will say, when you leave the game, one of the things you lose is that camaraderie.  When you come back, it's being with the guys that makes it fun.  I'm just going to go out and have some fun.

Q.¬† Billy Joe, four‑time winner.¬† I heard you say the other day when someone told you were installed as the favorite at 7‑to‑2, well, hell, I'm always the favorite on Monday?
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:¬† Yeah, in my mind anyway.¬† (Laughter) I'm the best pro‑am player ever.¬† I shoot nothing in the pro‑am.
MARK RYPIEN:  Eruzione, come on.
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  Greatest of them all.  But now that I know that he's got a putter out there and the water's down, I'm going to go walk out there and get it.  Maybe that's magic for me.  It wasn't for you.  (Laughter) But it's kind of like Rick said, we're so busy, and it's so hot where Rick and I live that you don't get out and practice much, because you're just too hot.  It's hard to get motivated to do it.
So you get here and you just hope you find it in the three or four days leading up to the tournament.¬† And then, like you said, it just comes down to how many greens can you hit a day, because it's tough getting up and down here.¬† You can go out there and hit 15 greens and walk away with three bogeys on the three you miss.¬† It's hard to get up and down.¬† But the golf course is in great condition.¬† And you just hope you have good speed all week.¬† Tap‑ins.¬† I don't want two‑footers.

Q.¬† Dave Cudney, you've established these odds ‑‑ Billy Joe at 7‑to‑2, Mark Rypien at 5‑to‑1, Rick Rhoden at 7‑to‑1 and Jeremy Roenick at 8‑to‑1.¬† I'm looking at these‑‑ and a lot of people always wonder, okay, how do these guys establish these odds?¬† I'm looking, you've got a defending champion who is not the favorite, and you've got Billy Joe as.¬† So tell us what the thinking is involved there and what goes through the process to determine these odds.
DAVE CUDNEY:  Well, it's not that complicated.
MARK RYPIEN:  He watched me play yesterday.
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  It's not that complicated.  Somebody has to be here, here and here, let's just throw out names.
DAVE CUDNEY:  I usually go by three things.  I go by past performance, their handicap and how much sleep they get.
MARK RYPIEN:  Jeremy is the favorite.
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  I was walking in the casino at 3:00a.m. and I passed him.
MARK RYPIEN:  Breakfast at 3:00a.m.
DAVE CUDNEY:  So, Billy Joe Tolliver is the favorite because he's won it a few times.  And that's what I go by, past performance, mostly.

Q.  Is it because Billy Joe Tolliver is one of the top athletes who can keep those hours?
Because I'm resplendent, or whatever you say.
JEREMY ROENICK:  I think it's Billy Joe because he really doesn't give a shit what happens there and whether he goes out there and makes a putt or he doesn't make a putt, where I think most of us are always squeezing everything as tight as we can.  He doesn't care.  So that's why he makes them all.
MARK RYPIEN:¬† Billy doesn't play scared.¬† That's what I love about him.¬† And good, bad and the ugly can come of it, but he's willing to take his risk and a lot of times‑‑ not a lot of times‑‑ most of the time it works out good for him.
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:¬† I just don't know where my misses are going.¬† So my good ones are good, everybody's good ones are good, and my bad ones is just worse than y'all's.¬† So years ago I quit caring about it.¬† I just hit it and go find it.¬† It matters to me, don't get me wrong.¬† I hate to stand on 16 with a 5‑ or 6‑iron in and hit it 40 yards right of the green.¬† I can't stand it, but that's who I am.¬† I don't know to tell you.¬† I'm awful.¬† Glad we can answer your question.

Q.¬† Dave, I understand with these repeat performers in the tournament it's easy to calculate the odds.¬† How do you do it for the newcomers, like how did you arrive at 40‑to‑1 for Justin Timberlake?
DAVE CUDNEY:  That's a little tougher.  We knew Justin had his own tournament, and we've seen him play before.  So I go by that and I go by word of mouth of people who have seen him play, how good he is.  And as Rick mentioned earlier, the first time here, it's very tough to win.

Q.  And then you've got your sentries out in the casino at 3:00a.m. to report back who is up and who's not.  Quick question for the golfers, I assume you guys have all played one round this week.  What's 18 like without that tree next to the green?  Does it make a huge difference?
JEREMY ROENICK:  They took the tree out.
MARK RYPIEN:  Yeah, right by the green.
JEREMY ROENICK:  I'm just learning about all these new changes.
MARK RYPIEN:  I noticed the bunker was gone because I've been in there a lot of times.
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  They hit it straight because they don't notice it.  That tree has kept me out of the water several times.  I hate that it's down.  I love No. 9, that addition to 9, it's a beautiful hole.  They did a fantastic job of that.  I mean, it's spectacular.
But talking about the players and stuff like Dave does, you gotta watch out for Pfeifer.  He's been playing a lot.  And he's a good player.  He was on the Web.com Tour last week.  He didn't play that great.  But he's playing a lot.
Smoltz has to be playing really well because there's no reason for Smoltz to have called me two weeks ago.  When me and Smoltz talk it's text messages back and forth.  I bet we hadn't called each other in five years.
But out of the blue he calls me.  Hey, Joe, what's going on?  Hey, how you doing, Smoltz?  What are you calling me for?  You digging for information?  You want to know how I'm playing?  Well, yeah, how you playing, because I'm playing really good.  He fessed up.  I'm playing really good.
So Smoltz is feeling good about it.
MARK RYPIEN:  Josh Scobee.
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  Scobee's a good player.
JEREMY ROENICK:  Now if they can take the tree out of middle of 8.  I didn't know about the tree on 18.
MARK RYPIEN:  Neither did I and I played yesterday.
JEREMY ROENICK:  I actually like that aspect.
MARK RYPIEN:  That saved me.
JEREMY ROENICK:  I haven't played yet I'll go see.
RICK RHODEN:  I think the biggest difference now for us in the last few years is we don't play the tournaments we play.  A lot of us, this is the only tournament we play all year.  Years ago we were playing ten tournaments a year and you got a lot more comfortable playing in the tournaments.  And now, I don't know about the rest of these guys, the first round every tournament here now, I have, what, three bonehead plays you make that you wouldn't play if you had been playing in tournaments.  And I think that's why there's been a lot of winners in the last five years have been in the 60s instead of the 70s.
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:¬† I think, too, the last five years or so‑‑ what's the average score, probably 74?¬† The average, since we started Stableford is probably 73, 74, 75 average winning score. ¬†And here the last few years it's, like you said, it's been 67, 8, 9 ‑‑ you know, Chief blew it out last year and stuff.¬† But I just think that the golf course got tougher the last few years.¬† It played longer, softened up some and they changed that fairway, and the fairways were a little rough when they were making that transition.

Q.  You're getting older?
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:¬† We can still go low any day.¬† We still play the same as we did.¬† It's just that everybody knows, like Rick was saying, we don't play as many competitive tournaments.¬† And you get‑‑ it's the Greg Norman effect, wanting to win Augusta.¬† You come here, this is our Augusta, our Masters.¬† And this is a big major for us.
And everybody has gotten better.  So you're sweating each other, you know.  You're not as aggressive as you used to be, because people were firing at things.
Now, you're, wait a minute, par is not a bad score anymore, just don't make doubles.  And everybody learned, let's just keep it packed and see how it is coming down the stretch on the back nine on Sunday.  And if you go fire your gun at something, so what?  You're just hoping you're standing on 16 tee box with at least 18 points, try to get in with 25.

Q.  Mark and Rick, Billy Joe shared his thoughts on No. 9.  I wanted to get your perspective playing it one time already?
MARK RYPIEN:¬† I think, first of all, 9 before, you made four at 9 before it was like a birdie.¬† Now it's a legitimate birdie hole.¬† You hit the ball anywhere left of those bunkers you've got a wedge in there.¬† And before‑‑ unless you're Joe, when you hit the driver and you got a wedge in‑‑ but normally you hit a 5‑iron, 4‑iron and 6‑iron in before.¬† Here you've got a driver, 3‑wood, hybrid and you still got a wedge in.¬† Anytime you put a wedge in your hand here you've got an opportunity to make a birdie.¬† It's gone from a hole that we all kind of hated at one point in time or kind of feared ‑‑
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  He hated it less than we did.  He can bend it that way.
MARK RYPIEN:  But I rarely hit driver there because at one time I decided to bend one that went straight and you don't have to worry about that at 9 anymore.  You just hit it down the left side go find it, hit it on the green.
JEREMY ROENICK:¬† I'm actually disappointed because I used my driver there every year.¬† I was one of those guys go driver, wedge because that's an easy move.¬† So I know I'm probably picking up points on most of the field there‑‑ driver, wedge coming in.¬† And I made at least one birdie, maybe two pretty much every year in the last five years.¬† It's not the case anymore, for me.
MARK RYPIEN:  That's one more than I've made in 25 years there.
RICK RHODEN:¬† I think 9 is a much better visual hole now for‑‑ you're looking at over the lake.¬† It's really a pretty hole now.¬† It's an easier hole because you don't have to maneuver your first shot or try to maneuver your first shot because it's easy if you don't maneuver it to get it out of bounds on the old 9.¬† 8, I'm not sure if it's easier or harder.¬† Only played it one time.¬† The tree's right in the middle.¬† Everybody used to try to blow it over the tree on 8 and you had a narrow opening.¬† Now there's more room, you've just got to hit it high.¬† If you pull it and miss the fairway, now they've filled it the grass about as high as this table and left is worse.
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  What if you block it over towards the old green?
RICK RHODEN:  That's what I mean.
MARK RYPIEN:  Just miss a green.
JEREMY ROENICK:  I haven't played it yet.  I haven't played it yet.
RICK RHODEN:¬† If you lay back left of the tree like you could on the old green, and hit in there 140‑yard shot, I think left of the green to the new green is like 170 yards.¬† So it's what you feel comfortable at that time.¬† Probably if you've been spraying your driver around you'll probably hit something left of the tree, and if you're hitting it good you'll try to hit over it.
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  These guys are all talking about where to hit and all this stuff.  I stood on 9 yesterday, first time I saw it, and the first thing that I saw is that fence over there where they're building that hotel.  That's the first thing I saw, because I know I'm going to hit my ball over that fence out of bounds.  That's all I could think about.
MARK RYPIEN:  Blocking one.
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:¬† It's such a bad shot to hit it over there.¬† But I gotta find those things because I can hit it 60 yards sideways.¬† I might as well play a wood driver; that way if I mis‑hit it, it only goes 230.¬† Can't get in trouble with that.

Q.  Mark, I wanted to ask about being the defending champion and what do you think is the key for you this week to try to get back on top?
MARK RYPIEN:  Well, play my game, obviously when you've got guys that, there's probably 20 to 25 guys that have a legitimate chance to compete; and if you start looking at scoreboards and the third hole, it's a moot point.  Just go out there and play.
Joe said, you get to 15, 16 points on the 16th tee box, you look to get two out of three coming home and getting that 21‑, 22‑, 23‑point range that first day, and put yourself in a position to at least be in contention.
And then same thing on Sunday, if you're within five points of the lead, or if you're in the lead by five points, it doesn't always necessarily mean you can bring it home.¬† Somebody just gets hot or‑‑
JEREMY ROENICK:  Has that happened lately?
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  Do you know a guy who has done that?
MARK RYPIEN:  I know a guy who knows a guy.  So if you're just in the hunt on Sunday and put yourself in a position, anything can happen.
And then just like U.S. Open, 150 guys teed up in the U.S. Open.  The guys are hitting the best that week no matter what the golf course was, ended up playing and finishing at the end and having a pretty good finish there at Chambers Bay as much as they bitch and moan about the golf course.
We've all bitched and moaned‑‑ not bitched and moaned about the course‑‑ but how difficult it is to make putts here.¬† I don't think we have an excuse anymore.¬† They've got the greens as good, and they're going to roll, and they're going to be running as good as they can on poa annua greens.¬† It's just a matter of putting yourself in a position at the end to make a run and see if you can get it done.
RICK RHODEN:  I think if you play just like we used to play, when there wasn't a Stableford, and just try to shoot the best score you can shoot, if you shoot a good score you're going to get a lot of points.  I think sometimes we do try to make a shot because you think I can get to this green, curve it around this tree or something, and you end up getting a double because something bad happens.
And a double is worse‑‑ hurts you worse than a birdie, helps in this format.¬† You carry with that, you just shoot a good round every day and don't make a lot of mistakes, you're going to have pretty good points.
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  You'll be right there.
RICK RHODEN:  If you play two really good rounds and one okay round, you'll have a chance.
MARK RYPIEN:¬† I also wanted to add, my two wins, 25 years apart, and I'll be 76 the next time I win‑‑ but in those two wins, I 3‑putted one green in all three rounds.¬† So one 3‑putt in three rounds in '90, and one 3‑putt last year.
That tells you, if you putt the golf ball here and don't 3‑putt‑‑ we all know if you have a 10‑footer for par, you want the ball to either just miss the cup or‑‑ you don't want a three‑footer coming back for bogey, because those are the mistakes you can't make.
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:¬† Like you said, the year‑‑ I don't even remember years, I don't know‑‑ couple of years ago‑‑
JEREMY ROENICK:  150 points.
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:¬† I ran off.¬† I hit 50 out of 54 greens.¬† And I'll bet I didn't miss three fairways.¬† It's hard, if you just don't‑‑ and I had no 3‑putts, if you just don't do‑‑ it's hard not to be right there.¬† And because 54 holes, you know, what would you say, if you go out‑‑ if you hit 45 greens, 45 greens or less, you're probably going to sit somewhere and finish around fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, you'll be top 10, but you just can't get up and down all the time here.¬† You've got to pin the dots.¬† And I'm not that guy.¬† So it's harder for me.
Ryp can go out there and have 18 straight pars, shoot 72.  I can go have nine birdies and nine bogeys and shoot 72.  He's got 18 points and I've got 27.
But like Ryp said ‑‑ I mean Rick said‑‑ you just can't make doubles here, because it's a five‑point swing on a guy.¬† I could blow it over there in the children's home over there on 16.
MARK RYPIEN:  Where there was a bear yesterday.
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:¬† Big bear.¬† Make a double bogey and Rick makes an eagle.¬† Now it's an eight‑point swing.
MARK RYPIEN:  That's good math for a guy like you.  Damn.
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:¬† Texas Tech educated.¬† I'm re‑‑ I don't even know how to say the word anymore.¬† I don't even know what that means.

Q.¬† J.R., I've known you from Philly.¬† I enjoyed seeing you come out the gate here Friday, Saturday, strong and then Sunday starts to fade a little bit.¬† Can you do anything this year to‑‑
JEREMY ROENICK:  I think every year gives you more experience.  Like Ryp, Ryp came out, won the first one, took him 25 years to win the next one, as he said.
It's not easy.¬† Trust me.¬† I told you my putter's out in the lake.¬† I'm not kidding.¬† And Ivan Lendl called me the biggest yipper on the planet.¬† Mr.Four Putt.¬† I had 45 putts on the front nine one year.¬† So it's battling.¬† It's battling.¬† It's battling the elements.¬† And sometimes when you‑‑
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  You need a hug.
JEREMY ROENICK:  When you battle to get to certain points, now all of a sudden you're there, you're excited to be there.  10, 15 years ago I wouldn't think I would be sitting here with these guys.
You have to try to adapt and adapting is one thing.  But I will say, last year, it's the first time I can say I didn't lose it.  I can actually say that I got beat.
And the performance that Ryp put on last year was one for the ages.  And if you followed around and watched the evolution of the game last year, where I was four points up going in, we get to 11 and I'm thinking Ryp's going to make a bogey because he's on the second hole, and he ends up chipping in for birdie.
So we're, like, all right, so he chips in for birdie.¬† Then we go in, I make a bad bogey on 15.¬† And then the skies fell in.¬† Now we're tied up.¬† We're coming out of a three‑hour rain delay.¬† And he goes eagle birdie, almost eagle, birdie.¬† How do you beat that?
It's like trying to get in your mind you learn these things.  So hopefully I learned something from last year after the beating and just come out and have fun.  Like these guys said, a lot of it is just not making the doubles.  To me, the most important shot is the first hole.
If I can hit a good shot off the first hole, make par in the first hole, I'm good.  Then I feel more comfortable, because for me the anticipation of getting here and the excitement to be able to compete with these guys is a lot of fun because I want to be where these guys are to win one.  But there's a lot of bad memories in here that I have to battle, too.
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  Yeah, but you probably exorcized some of them last year.  Like you said, that's got to help you out.  Ryp came and took it.  You didn't just throw it away.
MARK RYPIEN:  Jeremy made birdie at 16.  Chipped it up to about two feet, made birdie at 16.

Q.  Went in the lake on 18?
JEREMY ROENICK:¬† I put it in the sand.¬† Yeah, because I was frustrated, because he goes and makes eagle‑‑ rolls in a 20‑footer for eagle, 30‑footer for eagle.¬† Then he comes up and knocks it on 17 this close.¬† And literally I'm walking up the fairway and I'm telling him go away, go away already.¬† Ryp, go away, you've already won this.¬† Go away.
And the frustration of watching him go eagle and then the next hole go this far for‑‑ you know it's a tap‑in birdie knock it on in two on 18.¬† It's hard to take.¬† Those are the things you need to go through in order to maybe break through.¬† Maybe this is my year.¬† I'm just going to go out and have some fun.¬† I know the game's there.¬† It's if the putts drop.
RICK RHODEN:  Probably the worst thing about playing golf and the best thing is, in our sport, when we played our sport, if you were playing lousy they took you out of the game.
In golf, if you're playing lousy, you're stuck out there for four and a half hours.  There's nowhere to hide, especially here because it's on TV.  Like Billy Joe said, all your buddies are back at home saying why you hit the ball in the pond over there and why you didn't go for the green on 18.
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  I'll tell you, my guys at home, they don't get it.  They talk all this nonsense all the time about any one of these guys, the top 20 players here, they talk all this noise.
And I keep telling them:¬† I'll bring any one of them in and we'll play y'all.¬† You think they're bad players‑‑ they don't understand Sunday out here.¬† They don't understand the TV, the crowds.¬† They don't play in it.
It's just a different world.¬† You're standing on 17, late in the day, you got 220‑, 250‑, 260‑pound men walking on all day, that sun's going across that green on 17 and you've got to putt from here to that door for birdie and all you see is footprints.¬† You know it's not going in.¬† Oh, please hit a footprint and go in.¬† You hit such a bad stroke on that.¬† No, I didn't, I made a good stroke.¬† And they just don't get it.
But I can tell you‑‑ I've got some good players in my club, really good players‑‑ I'll take any one of those guys and play them.¬† They don't understand.
You go stand on 17 on Sunday, point or two out of the lead, or two points up or something like that, stand on that tee box with that wind blowing in and to the left, they're all screaming at you.
JEREMY ROENICK:¬† We're out of our element, too.¬† This is not our element.¬† Put a football in these two guys' hands, great.¬† Put a baseball in his hands, great.¬† Put a hockey stick in my hand, it's great.¬† Put a golf club in front of all these thousands of people that are watching, you know it's on TV, that becomes‑‑ what he's talking about, it's a whole different animal.¬† Whole different animal.
MARK RYPIEN:¬† I'd like to say, too, we've come a long ways.¬† The crowds we have on Wednesday used to be the three‑year totals we had on Sunday the first three years.¬† I mean, these crowds are great.
What the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority does to make the awareness and really promote this event is unbelievable.  And you've got some great people here.  And then we're so fortunate to be here.
But we've got all our volunteers that make this happen, and we get the luxury of going out there between the ropes and doing something we all dreamed about when we were little kids and watching Nicklaus and Palmer do this, and now we get to do it ourselves.  This is pretty cool.
It's a pretty cool deal.¬† And it's huge now.¬† Last year's crowds and last 10 years' crowds have been enormous, and the pro‑ams and the excitement and the energy and all your buddies who run across and say what's it like, come out and take a look.¬† Come out here and see.

Q.¬† Mark, two years ago, big drama with you and Billy Joe with the triple playoff that Billy Joe run.¬† Last year, drama with the rain.¬† You said afterwards that you play in the rain all the time‑‑ not all the time.
MARK RYPIEN:  I'm a mudder, yeah.
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  I tried to give him my rain jacket.  He wouldn't take it.  He said:  No, I'm wet already.

Q.  Two questions:  Do you expect any drama this year?  And is there any truth to the rumor that some of your winnings last year are going to Cloud Seed on Sunday so we get some rain for you in the afternoon?
MARK RYPIEN:  No, not at all.  Even though I'm a mudder, and I don't mind because our season is so short in the state of Washington, I'll play in it.  It's not my ideal conditions.
It is what the conditions that were afforded us, and had to go out and do it.  Maybe it did help that I do play a little bit in those types of conditions.  I was in Scotland for 10 days here.  Just got back Friday of last week.
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  So you've been out playing all the time, huh, chief?
MARK RYPIEN:  Snuck a round or two in there.  I didn't tell you I was on tour, I was on a single malt scotch tour.  That's what I was there for.  I wasn't playing golf.  I was looking at castles and having some good Glennmorangie.

Q.  As the representative of the Visitors Authority here, I'd like everybody to know the weather forecast for the rest of the week is about 78, 80 degrees.  The rain was last year.  We welcome rain.  We'll welcome it the week after.  Question for Dave:  Couple of weeks ago we had Charles Barkley on a phone call.  We were talking about odds and the favorites up here.  You've had Charles installed this year at 5,000 to 1.  Charles made a comment that after this year he's waiting for this tournament to end to get the hip replacement and he vows he's going to win this tournament next year.  What are the early odds on that prediction?
DAVE CUDNEY:  I worry about Charles finding me (laughter).
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  We'll put Dave in Witness Protection.  Security.
DAVE CUDNEY:¬† I'll let these guys‑‑

Q.  How would you guys respond to that one, Billy Joe?
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  You know, I'll book it.  If Dave don't want it, I'll book it.  I like where his head's out.  If you don't believe it who is going to believe it.  I like where his head is at on the deal.  But I like our chances.  The field against Chucky.  I'll take it.

Q.  I think Charles said on that conference he has about 10 percent range of motion now with his hip.  It's going to get to 60 to 70percent, I think.  So that's why he feels he'll golf better.
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:¬† Well, Chucky's got to understand‑‑
JEREMY ROENICK:  I think we have a couple of lifetimes to not worry about that.
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  He's got to understand that there's no choke factor out there.  When we're playing Sunday, coming down the stretch, nobody's choking.  You hit a bad shot, it's not because you choked, it's you just don't have the skill set.  We're not that good.
Like the TOUR players, this is nothing:¬† Jordan Spieth, let me hit this 5‑iron 240 yards, or Dustin Johnson, 280, knock it up there.¬† We're trying.¬† The thought process is there.¬† We're just not that good.
And Chucky, he's really not that good.  And there is some choke factor.
JEREMY ROENICK:¬† But I will say, I mean, for Charles, and I think for us, I think we all speak the same‑‑ to come here, it's a lot about bringing out the fans and making it fun for television.¬† That's what's fun about come to go this tournament.
And Charles, even though he knows that people are going to laugh at him and people are going to criticize his swing and they're going to say a lot of things, he continues to come out every year and he continues to be one of the best guys with the fans and one of the best guys with the group.
And he understands that it's as much a business and a show as it is a tournament.  And the fact that we come out here knowing that we can compete the play, he knows that he can come out here and make this tournament more recognizable and more of a big event.
And for me, I think he should deserve much more credit for coming out year after year when we don't see Mario here.  We don't see Michael here anymore.  We don't see some guys because they just don't want to deal with it.  Barkley deals with it.
And I think for me, you know, that's a win for me with Charles.
MARK RYPIEN:  Absolutely.  I agree.  The success of the event is because of Charles Barkley.  Let's just face it.  He comes out.  We'll bring a hundred people that will follow us, couple hundred that love the Coyotes and the San Jose Sharks and the Redskins and the Pirates, and pick one of 20 teams for Billy Joe and I.  We've got the league covered there.
But Charles adds an element that people come to see Charles Barkley.¬† They just want to get a picture taken with him.¬† They want to‑‑ they feel good about themselves if they tell him great shot and gives him thumbs up or something like that.¬† And what he did when the fires came here 15 years ago, I mean, that says who Charles Barkley is and this tournament, like I say, each and every year‑‑ and I played in the'80s in Neil Lomax's golf event back at the Wigwam when Charles actually had a golf swing and played‑‑
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  He was a good player.
MARK RYPIEN:¬† Until he actually hit somebody with a golf ball.¬† That's kind of where he developed this‑‑
JEREMY ROENICK:  That tells you another thing about him, how compassionate he is, to have a tick around a lot of people because he actually hit somebody.  There's a story behind it.  It's a good point.
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:¬† Everybody is pulling for Chucky because he loves the game.¬† He loves to play the game.¬† And we're all hoping he gets it.¬† Because we all remember‑‑ what, Chucky was, what probably a 5 or 6.¬† Late'80s early'90s.¬† And you want him to come back and enjoy playing the game and not just being an ambassador in the tournament.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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