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January 15, 2016

Rick Rhoden


THE MODERATOR: We were talking about the weather earlier, and we were talking about it's crazy to think about how nice it is now compared to this morning. If you can talk about this morning and how you felt going out after the rain delay.
RICK RHODEN: It's kind of like Helter Skelter here, 40 minutes before we were going to tee off, and guys were running over trying to hit balls on the range, trying to putt a little bit.
When we got outthere, it wasn't bad. The rain stopped, and the wind had stopped. It's pretty easy playing if you hit the ball on the fairway because you could clean and place your ball.
Then after about eight holes, seven holes, all of a sudden, the wind kicked up, and it got pretty hard to play. I played great until my last two holes. I was at 27 points with two holes to play, and I was 140 yards from the pin on 18, was my 17th hole today, and I just kind of almost shanked the ball into the water, and then I'm getting a double bogey.
I think that carried over a little bit to the next hole 1. That was the only drive I missed the fairway all day was on 1, and I hit it in the rough and missed the green and didn't get it up and down and got a bogey. So that was kind of like a four‑point turnaround, kind of left a sour taste in my mouth.
But I did play really well. I only missed about three greens and made six birdies. I'm pretty happy with 25 points. If I'd known I was getting 25 points, I would say great. But when I had 27 and went backwards, it's all kind of relevant.
THE MODERATOR: Talk about this tournament and being a first year event and just kind of tournament formats.
RICK RHODEN: I think this tournament has a chance to be a really, really good tournament. The people at Diamond Resorts knows how to entertain people, and this is the first year, and they've done an unbelievable job with the players. I'm assuming they've done it with everybody else too.
I'm sure everybody's happy. The word's going to get out. There are going to be more guys that want to come especially because the wives are going to be able to bring the kids and do all the fun stuff in Orlando. I think this has a chance to be one of our really big‑‑ we only have a few tournaments, but I think it's got a chance to be kind of like a Tahoe‑type tournament.
When you can get the guys wanting to come, really wanting to come, some of the big name guys, it turns into a really good tournament.

Q. I guess the only question regarding the final round is can you catch this Fish?
RICK RHODEN: I'm going to have to play like I did today and not make a double bogey, and he's going to have to have an off day. I don't know what the weather is supposed to be tomorrow. For me, I wish it was blowing at least 10 or 15 miles an hour. Then if you play well, you can catch somebody a lot easier.
The fairways are wide here. He's a good player. He's a long player. He's going to have to make some mistakes for anybody to catch him, I think. He's got a nine‑point lead on me, and I'm going to have to have a high 20s day probably and him have an average day, 18 or 19 points. If he can do that, I can catch him.
It's kind of up to him. I should be playing with him, so maybe I can start off pretty good, and then something good might happen for me. But he's a good player. I played him in Lake Tahoe, and he's a very good player.

Q. Any of these guys you've seen the last couple of years‑‑ Gagne, I know Mulder's been around a little bit, Fish now, I don't want to get carried away here‑‑ but could even consider doing what you did when you turned 50?
RICK RHODEN: I don't know if these guys really know how hard it is to play professional golf. Can they do it? Maybe they can. Mardy Fish is young. He's 31 or 32 years old. If he keeps getting better. You need to play, though. If you want to get better, you've got to play tournament golf. You can't just play with your buddies. I don't know if he's willing to go do that. A lot of these guys don't have to do that or don't want to do it.
To play professional golf, I found out real quick that you've got to be able to go to a golf course that you've never played, play a practice round, play a pro‑am, and now go shoot par or better if you want to make any money. It's hard to do. Every golf course in America has four or five guys that are scratch or better, and they couldn't make a plug nickel playing professional golf.
At your own course, you don't even have to look at the sprinklers. You've played it so many times, you know how the greens break and know how everything breaks. Well, guys are having trouble putting here because we're over reading the break on these greens. They look like they're breaking, and they're not breaking. I think it's pretty tough. You've just got to kind of realize they don't break as much as you see.
Pro golf is a tough egg to follow. There's a lot of good guys, good golfers here. Gagne is pretty young too. Mulder is young. Both of those guys‑‑ all three of those guys hit it far, and they can play right now. But I think they've got to play more tournaments. I know Mulder plays a lot of tournaments.

Q. Do they have to play on the Web.com? Do they have to make the Web.com tour? Is that the only way?
RICK RHODEN: I didn't play any of those tours. I played in some events and stuff like that. I won a Tommy Armour event in Florida. But I think you have to play with players that are better than you, wherever that is. If you're playing with guys better than you, you can learn.
Just like baseball, if I come up with the Dodgers, and I've got Don Sutton‑‑ I got Hall of Famer Don Sutton, Tommy John won 295 games, different style of pitchers. If I pay attention and watch, I can learn how to play. I always tried to play with guys better than me. I moved up to Ponte Vedra and played with Leonard Thompson, who played on the Senior Tour a lot. Played with Fred Funk some, Jim Furyk some, played with two or three other guys that were on the Senior Tour.
I joined the course up there, and we played a lot. When you're playing with guys better than you, you either get better, or you learn how to play. You watch how they play. How do they go about it? They don't always hit it good every day, but their bad day is around par. They know how to save shots. We've got a lot of guys here that can shoot six, seven birdies a day, but what can they shoot when they're playing not so good?
It's kind of like pitching. It's not every day you got out there you're throwing your best stuff, but can you get through six or seven innings with one pitch working. It's learning how to do it, how to score. That's why they've got to go play. They've got to go play in tournaments where you have to make every putt.
I'm not saying, no, there's not anybody here who can do it because there probably is. I think Mark Mulder and Gagne, if they wanted to‑‑ if they worked to go that way. I don't know if they're going to do that.

Q. What was your main takeaway after playing the Senior Golf Tour?
RICK RHODEN: In what respect?

Q. Whether it was how good those guys are or short game is the most important thing or I was good enough but the rules were restricting, whatever.
RICK RHODEN: They make it very hard to get out there. I won the Tour School one year. I tied with Dean Jones, and all it did was get me to Monday qualifying. So I didn't really win anything. That was pretty bad, I thought. One year I came in 12th, and I got in 15 events. I got a couple Monday qualifying and a couple of sponsor exemptions, I got into like 10.
It's hard to get in there. That's the thing. It's just hard to get in. And now it's even harder because if you go every Monday qualifying‑‑ I haven't done it in like seven years. But every Monday qualifying, there's 40 ex‑PGA guys that you've got to beat. So it's hard.
When you go to Tour School, now you've got to beat all the best Europeans. Even the Ryder Cup guys, they don't have enough money in the U.S. It's U.S. money. So they just walk out, they don't care. They come and they qualify, and they go to the final stage, and they get in. There's always a Japanese guy or two that gets in.
So when you're 50‑‑ the biggest accomplishment I made in golf is ‑‑ I won like 53 times on this Celebrity Tour, I won 8 at Tahoe, but the biggest accomplishment was winning the Tour School. I'm playing with the best 50‑year‑old guys in the world at the time that aren't on the Senior Tour. To me, that was by far the biggest accomplishment I ever made playing professional golf.

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