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January 2, 2006

Mark Calcavecchia


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thanks, Mark, for joining us for a few minutes here in the media center of the Mercedes Championship. You haven't been back here since 2002. You flew in yesterday, had a chance to play nine holes. Talk about being back here.

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: I spent a lot of years here, all the tournaments, invitationals. I loved coming here. When it became the Mercedes Championships, it was always great to be here because obviously if you're here, you won a tournament. That's a good thing.

Been looking forward to this for quite a while. December went way too quick. I'm not overprepared, let's put it that way. I played 18 holes this month, last month, somewhere. That's not true. I played more than that. You know, the next thing you know, here we are.

I'll be ready come Thursday.

JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Questions, please.

Q. What was the last thing you did officially where you couldn't kick your ball, improve your line, things like that? Shark shootout?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: I don't know. Yeah, I guess. Worked my ass off in the Bard Capital Challenge, I don't know when that was.

Q. The one in Vegas?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: First week in December, yeah. ProAm, it was 40, freezing, next day was colder and windy. Really, I finished the Wendy's 3 Tour Challenge the Monday and Tuesday after the Shark Shootout. Basically, the Shark Shootout was the last thing I did that I would call a tournament.

Q. Had you played many challenge events in previous years or did the Wendy's get you sort of involved more?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: That helped obviously. I don't think I ever would have gotten to Wendy's or the Bard Capital Challenge if I hadn't won. Thankfully I'm always in the Shark Shootout because Greg, 24 guys, he takes 12 of the guys on the career Money List. Obviously that goes way down past me. I told Greg, I said, "If you ever want to throw me out of your tournament, you better change your qualifications rules because I'm going to play every year."

He laughed. He said, "Glad to have you."

I enjoy playing in that. I played the Loren Roberts the last couple years. Had a chance to win two years ago. Didn't do so good this year. Different partners over the years. Always enjoyed playing in that. That's pretty much it, other than those other two I got in.

Q. How does the Plantation fit your game?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Fits my game well actually. I played well here over the years. You know, the fairways are wide and they're wet. The course is playing long, which is good for me. I don't really anticipate the fairways drying up that much by Thursday, depending on if it keeps raining or not.

Yeah, I played here a lot, so I know the course. The greens are great. You got to whack the hell out of it, be careful on the downhill side, putts can get away from you. It's very difficult putting here.

Guys manage. I like the course.

Q. When did you win Phoenix, '01 or '02?


Q. Four years since you've been here?


Q. Is that too long for you to appreciate the difference with the greens, the way they've redone them, how much better they are?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Yeah, a little bit. I sort of forgot the way some of the greens were. I just played the Front 9. I was like, wow, you know, some of these greens are pretty funky. I was telling my caddie a friend of mine, caddied for me when we won in Canada, I brought him over, he never had been to Hawaii before, he's having a good time. He's like, "wow, look at this green."

I kind of tell him where the pins are. You know, like that 4th hole, back right pin placement, if you just miss to the left, it's going to go 50 feet down the hill. Stuff like that, you got to play attention to it.

Q. You know they redid the greens so the grass is different.

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: I didn't know that. It's the best I've ever seen them in terms of consistency. I mean, the grass is beautiful. They're still grainy. But they putt nice and they look beautiful. There's a lot of moisture and wetness on them now. They're still pretty quick downhill.

Q. Are they?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Yeah. So if they dry out a little bit, they're pretty firm, they're going to be you're going to see some funny putts.

Q. Does that make this more of a position golf course than maybe before they did the greens, even more crucial to be below the hole?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: I think so. I think that's fair to say, yeah. I think it's very important, if you can, to be putting uphill, even though they're slow. Downhill side hiller, some of these putts, you got to aim 10, 15 feet, you know, up the hill and try to just dribble it down there somewhere and hope you can get it close enough to where you're not.

Q. Augusta like?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Different type of Augusta like, but same sort of mentality, where you might have an eight Foot putt, odds of making it are one in 10 because you got to play two feet of break, hit it up there because if you go ahead, hammer it, just try to make it, you're going to roll it six feet by. You don't want to start tree jacking them from eight feet.

It's the same sort of theory.

Q. As a player, especially one who has gone four years since his last win, what goes through your mind when you read or hear that Tiger and Phil are not playing this week?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Well, I text messaged Tiger and said, "No Hawaii for you, more cash for me," something like that (laughter). "Thanks for not playing in Hawaii, more cash for me."

I think they should be here. It's bad for the tournament. Good for me, bad for the tournament. I don't have to beat Tiger, Phil, Retief or Padraig. That's a bonus factor. If I'm looking to win this tournament, there's three or four guys that could easily win it.

I wish they were here, though. I think they should be.

Q. What about the other side of that, being an independent contractor, whatever that phrase is?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Well, you know, obviously money's not an issue. They don't need the money, which is nice to be in that position. You know, it's the first week of the year. Tiger played all those other tournaments. You know, they need the break; Phil needs a break, whatever. That's okay. It's just golf, you know. It's not a marathon. They don't have to it's not the Ironman out here, swim 26 miles or something. It's just golf. Take the next month off, you know. I think they should be here. That's all I got to say.

Q. Is it more because the tournament itself represents something, not necessarily that no other tournament is important, but this is the tournament of championships.


Q. Is it incumbent upon them to represent that which they earned?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: I agree with that. It is a tournament of champions. This is winners only. You win tournaments, this should be, I think, part of the reason why you should be here, to represent that tournament you won, or tournaments, you know, six of them or whatever he won. Yeah, I agree.

Q. Is there any recourse for the TOUR to say certain events, like Phil missed THE TOUR Championship, too, like certain events you really should...

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Yeah, I know Mr. Finchem wasn't happy about that. You know, Phil, obviously he has the right, and they can skip whatever they want, but I think we play enough tournaments over the course of the year where they're important tournaments, winners only here, top 30 in THE TOUR Championship. There's plenty of others during the course of the year you don't have to play. I think they should have to play.

Q. If you had to pick between the two, would you rather be at East Lake at the end of this year or be eligible for this next year?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: I'd rather be eligible for this thing next year. You're going to be eligible for East Lake anyway.

Q. Logical.

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Yeah. DiMarco won 3.6 million and he's not here. I'm sure he wishes he was. You know, winning I would take a win and finish 31st on the Money List as opposed to taking no win and finishing 30th on the Money List.

Q. Would you take no win and finishing fourth on the Money List?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Definitely (smiling).

Q. That would be about four and a half or five, pretty good year.

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Yeah. No, this is this is where you want to start out. Everybody here won a tournament. That's a big thing nowadays.

Q. Zinger was among those, couple of years ago ranting you don't get enough of winning any more. World ranking, all this stuff. Do you think that's the case? Do you think that will go away when Augusta goes back to win and you're in situation?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: That will help. You know, it's so difficult to win on the PGA TOUR. Yeah, maybe you should get a few more perks. Definitely you should get in the Masters and the US Open. If you win a tournament, you know, that's happened quite a few times in the past where a guy won at Westchester, then had to play a 36 holer the next day to get into the US Open. That to me is ridiculous.

You know, this is the biggest, best golf tour in the world. If you win out here, that means you should be in anything the next year (smiling).

Q. The Bard Capital Challenge?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Even the Bard Capital Challenge, absolutely.

Q. Did you notice any other changes to the golf course since the last time you've been here besides the greens?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Not really. I was kind of looking for them, too, because I heard they kind of reshaped, contoured five or six greens out here. I'm not sure which ones they are. They kind of look the same to me in terms of the slopes. But, yeah, somebody fill me in because I'm not sure what they are.

Q. They moved a couple bunkers on the Back 9. Did you play the front?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: I played the front. 15 and 16, fairway bunkers. You know, other than the different grass, the greens, there's not a bad patch of grass on any green. They're perfect really. So it's the best I've ever seen them.

Q. Two part question. How do you make out a schedule every year? How has it changed making out your schedule from, say, earlier in your career till now?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Well, as time goes by, you know, I used to play the Byron Nelson every year, because I played okay there, love the facility. Same with Colonial. As time kind of goes by, you miss a couple, two, three years worth of cuts in a row. Last time I was in Colonial a couple years ago I about died of heat stroke, it was so hot. It was hard. I didn't play good. I'm like, "All right, screw this. I don't need this. I played here 20 years in a row, that's enough."

As time goes by, you play the same tournaments year in and year out, you're like, "Okay, let's not play here any more; let's take at least a year or two off, add something else I haven't played in 10 years."

I would say 85% of my schedule's pretty much similar, but there's some tournaments that I'm not going to go to any more. Byron Nelson and Colonial are great tournaments, it's just the wind or whatever; Cottonwood Valley, worst course on TOUR. I just don't enjoy playing there any more. It's even worse than LaCantera, which is hard to do. Colonial is tough, it's hard, bouncy, hot, windy.

Q. Golf courses I assume are a big part of it, the ones you like you try to go to, the ones you don't like...

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Probably At Least 90% of the factor of where I decide to play. The other 10% would probably be convenience and/or scheduling.

Q. Is there a certain part of the year that you do or don't like to play more of?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: I'm not good in summers. I usually start off okay on the West Coast because I'm happy I'm here, obviously, the Hope I like, Phoenix I like, then Florida I usually do pretty well in. I want to be in the Masters. Went we get to about the end of April, other than the British Open, obviously I look forward to. I pretty much kind of go into a semi funk for like four months. I like to finish strong, too. Once September gets here, I kind of get reenergized again.

Q. Win in Canada?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Exactly. You know, I played well in Canada in the past. I like more their style courses they play up there. Boston in the past I've won. I like the end of the year.

Q. This is supposed to be somewhat of a nostalgic year. This is the last year where at the end of the week you have to look at the Money List, you have to look at the FedEx points. This is the last format schedule, I guess, as we know it.

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Yeah, I don't know. It's going to be different next year, you know. This year, like you said, it will kind of be normal, where you pay attention to where you're at. Next year, you're going to be wondering about that.

Q. Assuming they tell you.

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Yeah, exactly, assuming they tell you what's going on (laughter). I don't know if anybody knows what's going to happen yet. We'll see.

Q. Over the years, have there been certain young players you've watched as a 22 year old, 23 year old and said, "This is going to be a good player," didn't really pan out the way you thought? Have there been some that did?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: I'm surprised Jason Allred, after getting off to a pretty good start right off the bat. I played a couple practice rounds with him somewhere, he hits it a mile. Young kid, and he lost his card. Missed like, I don't know, 15 of his last 17 cuts or something. I was surprised to see Jason lose his card like that.

Some guys you think look really, really good. I haven't played with Ryan Moore yet. It's hard to say. I'd have to see a list. I really can't think of any names.

Q. For five years, ever since 2000 there's been kind of this look for who is going to be the player that challenges Tiger. It seems like his biggest challenge have been guys who were on the other end, be it Phil, Ernie, whatever.


Q. When are we going to get one?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: I don't know. They're all women. All the good young players are chicks. Unbelievable. There's about 10 of 'em. I looked at the golf week there, all the girls that made it through tour school, all but three of them were under 25, and half of them are 17 (smiling). I don't know what the reason for that is.

I don't know who the next great 21 year old or 20 year old player is going to be. It's so hard to get through the school, some of them spin their wheels there. My buddy Matt Every from Florida I think is going to be a heck of a player.

Q. Did he get through?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Hasn't tried yet. He has a semester left.

Q. Didn't turn pro?


Q. Did he think about it?

JOAN vT ALEXANDER: He thought about it for a minute.

Q. You mentioned you play well in Florida. Do you like Bay Hill?


Q. Too long?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: They lost me when the greens got harder than the street out here, whatever year that was, about four years ago. Then I went back the next year, skipped it a year. I went back last year.

Q. Same thing?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: It was out of sheer boredom. Actually my kids went. My son wanted to go to the parks. "All right, I'll play." I don't think I'm going to play this year.

But I used to like it a lot. Again, I had some good tournaments there. It was a hard course, pretty good course for me. That's what I call a good tee to green course. You have to play well tee to green there. I thought it was a good course for me.

Q. Changes over time, too, doesn't it?


Q. Courses change. Game changes a little.

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Right, right. You know, like two or three guys that live in Orlando don't even play there, DiMarco being one of them. Super hard greens. When you can't hit a par 3, you know, with your best 4 iron shot, it's kind of dumb. Three greens like that: 2, 14 and 17. You couldn't hit the green.

Q. I played six weeks ago.


Q. Yes. I'm hitting an 8 iron, 14, bounced over. Do you watch golf on TV?


Q. Do you watch women's golf?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Sometimes. Again, depends how bored I am, what else is on. If there's nothing on with the 73 movie channels I have, I'll watch it.

No, I watch it sometimes. I watch the Solheim Cup, big tournaments. I watch their majors. Our majors if I'm not playing. If I play early, I'll watch all afternoon.

Q. What are your thoughts not that big of a deal on Michelle Wie in the Sony? Probably a bigger deal two years ago.

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Yeah, everybody's kind of getting used to it. She's going to make a cut eventually. She's never going to win, period. You know, she should have made the cut in Japan the end of last year. Bogeyed three of the last four or something, didn't she? I don't know. Maybe once she makes a cut, she'll forget about it.

Should she play in Hawaii? Sure, I don't have a problem with her playing there. That's where she's from. It's the Hawaiian Open. As far as where else she plays, I think she should try to win some LPGA tournaments first and go from there.

Q. Do you think the novelty has worn off a little bit?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Yeah. I don't think anybody really cares any more. She's still going to be the center of attention next week, and that's fine.

Q. Why is that?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Because she's playing. Can she make the cut? Show every shot she hits.

Q. Just the idea of her making the cut.

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Yeah. If she makes a cut, you know, finishing 60th or something, next tournament she plays in, I don't think it will it's like, "All right, she made a cut. Now what is she trying to do?" Is she trying to win, seriously? What is she trying to do? I think all that women playing the men's tournament crap, either everybody is tired of it or...

Q. Played itself out?


Q. What do you think about Vanderbilt? Did he say he's going to try to get in the Women's Open?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Women's British Open.

Q. He said he'd even wear a skirt. He said he would if that's what he had to do to try to qualify.

JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thanks, Mark.

End of FastScripts.

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