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September 11, 2005

Mark Calcavecchia


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Mark, congratulations on being the 2005 Bell Canadian Open champion. Why don't you just kind of share with us how you're feeling right now.

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Well, I honestly never really thought I would win again, let alone on a golf course like this, a tournament this big. You know, I have my moments where I'm pretty good, and as I said the other day, I have a lot of self doubt and a lot of demons that are floating around inside of my head. Brenda told me from the day she met me, you have it, just your little brain gets in the way. It happens to a lot of guys, the things we think about out there pretty much freak you out.

I can honestly say I never thought I would say that I actually win a tournament using my head. But honestly this weekend, I think I won this tournament playing smart golf, using course management and staying patient. I mean, somebody is going to have to find out when the last time somebody won a tournament making one birdie on the weekend. That may have never happened before in the history of golf, by the way.

Anyway, I'm just unbelievably happy and I still can't believe it.

JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Talk a little bit how this changes things for you, at your age.

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Well, a year ago, I was about 130th on the Money List at this point and trying to figure out a way to keep my card without using up one of my career Money List exemptions. I was just trying to figure out how I was going to make it to 50. Sometimes I still wonder how I'm going to make it to 50, but I'm hoping they lower the age for the Senior Tour down a couple of years. I really don't enjoy playing against Ryan Moore and Chuckie Howell and all of those 23 year old young guys that hit it 30 yards by me.

It's been a good stretch for the old guys. And sure enough, you know, Fax and Olin Browne and now me. I would hope that would give a lot of hope to some of the other guys out there in their middle 40s that are struggling a little bit.

Q. Congratulations on your win. Just first off, you seem to play some of your best golf right here in the Vancouver area. Can you maybe comment on that?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: I sure do. You know, I'm just a fan of perfect weather, for one. I mean, who isn't? The weather was just awesome all week, right from the get go when we got here on Monday. You know, that crap we had to play in at the PGA and Congressional, the Booz Allen, where you just soak your shirt is just drenched with sweat. I live in Florida and Arizona, two pretty hot places, but I'm a cold weather player, and I just love temperatures like this. There's just something about Vancouver that I play well.

I am territorial. I've won Phoenix three times and the Honda twice and now Vancouver twice. So seven of my 12 wins have come in three places. Why? I don't know. I like it.

Q. You were 8 under after two days, and in your most optimistic moment could you have imagined winning after shooting 72 and 71?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: No. If you'd asked me on Friday, I wouldn't have said 5 under would have won, but the greens got incredibly firm today. You know, this is a National Championship. This is Canada's U.S. Open. This is the Canadian National Championship, and great courses like this, they set it up just like a major championship.

Same with Baltusrol. Phil did that for two rounds and 4 under won, same thing.

JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Phil had two rounds over par to win that.

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: A golf course like this, you can play one great round, maybe two, but you're sure as hell not going to beat it four days in a row. I knew that after Friday. I would have gladly taken a pair of 70s after Friday instead of 8 under because I knew that would be a great score at the end of the week. Sure enough, 5 under was right on the money. I guessed five to seven at the start of the week, and that was it. Thank God we ran out of holes.

Q. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems to me that you've fought and you've spoken of this quite liberally, mental demons rather than the swing demons over the years. You play with the fade and that play seems pretty standard, you've been around the game longer and seen players fight one or the other or both, and you've fought as you say the mental demons more.

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Yeah, I think with myself, I just always think I should play better than I do. I just get so down on myself when I can't hit a sand wedge within 30 feet of the hole. And I'm like, how can I be that bad? You know, how can you just keep missing putt after putt after putt? I don't know, I just ask myself way too many questions. I probably don't focus far enough ahead and on the shot at hand. I'm worried too much about whatever just happened to me.

I've always been an emotional player. I'm an emotional guy. I watched a replay of the Titanic the other day and was bawling at the end of the movie. That's just my nature. When things go good for me, I'm streaky and I'm very good; and when they go bad for me, I lose it. That's just how I am.

Q. Was it just mental demons a year ago? Was there anything else you can attribute your struggles to, and talk about the turnaround from last year to this year.

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: I'm not exactly a physical wonder. I'm not in very good shape; I'll be the first to admit it and it's my own fault.

My back, I finished some tournaments and some rounds this year that no other player I guarantee you would even try to finish with back spasms and just what have you. I honestly believe that a lot of that is brought on my stress, by my own mental and physical stress that I put on myself, or when I get so pissed off I can't swing or play. Then all of a sudden, it's almost like last year in Vegas, I willed a back spasm on myself, because I hated myself so bad. Sure enough, I'm not kidding you, ten minutes in the parking lot after I got done, I went, aayyyee, right down to the ground, willed a back spasm on myself. (Laughter). That's not easy to do and accomplish it at the same time. I hated myself.

Q. You talked about you won this tournament with your mind today, can you explain how your mind fended off the demons today?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Well, it helps when you're in the lead, or you know you're in the lead. Now if I would have at some point gotten 2 or 3 down or something, then I might have really kind of panicked and gotten mad that I wasn't winning anymore, you know what I mean? Even when you're struggling, and you're not making any putts, but know you're still tied for the lead or one ahead, I really wasn't paying attention most of the day. I knew I was never behind, put it that way. I figured I might have been tied at one point on the back nine and from 14 on, I knew exactly where I stood.

You know, again, you can't you just can't lose it when you're winning by one. No matter who what kind of shots you're hitting, you've got to scrounge it out somehow and that's basically what I did.

Q. Was there a point where you sort of had a meeting with yourself and you figured, you know, steady and par is going to be good enough to win this thing and you don't have to shoot lights out and knock the pin down, because it seemed that was a veteran who knew how to win playing the back nine.

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Yeah, I actually surprised myself a little bit. I'm definitely going to look at the back nine as well, yeah, I shot 2 over, but I played last five holes very good and hit some great shots.

I wanted to make birdies, believe me. It was so unusual for me to play all those holes with only one birdie. I only birdied one par 5 all week. I guarantee you, anybody else in the Top 10 played the par 5s better than 1 under for the week, so that almost cost me lost my train of thought.

No, I was trying to make birdie. I knew if I could make that one on 14 that I was in the driver's seat; that five feet, for some reason, I played it straight and it broke about four inches, nice read, and then I hit a great putt on 15 that I thought I actually made that one. I wanted to birdie one of those two holes, if not both of them to give myself a couple of shots and I knew exactly where I was. Then made a great 2 putt on 16 and hit good shots all the way coming in.

Q. (Inaudible.)

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Just my two best swings, was it destiny? You know, I've bombed tournaments on the 18th hole before with bad drives. I thought of none of that. Just concentrated and hit it hard. I hit it really good.

My 6 iron shot, the wind was blowing a little bit more into me when I was standing out there waiting than I wanted. I had 184, and then we caught a nice little lull. It was just perfect timing and I knew I didn't have to kill it, but I knew I could make a nice, aggressive swing at it. I hit a high, straight one that dropped just a shade to the right. It right where I mean, I couldn't have dropped it in a better spot.

I've got to give my equipment a little credit, too. Since Ping made these knew i5 irons, and I've always played Ping i2's, I've hit more great iron shots in the last month since I've started using these irons than I have in a long, long time. It's almost like they custom made them for me. They are a combination I think between the i2's and the i3+'s. Every time I set them down I just feel like I'm going to hit a good shot, and certainly you have to be comfortable with your equipment. The new G2 drivers, the G5 drivers, great stuff.

My putter, on the other hand, may be replaced, some time soon, or thrown, one or the other. That 6 iron I hit on the last hole is one I can pull that one for rest of my life whether I'm trying to win a Super Senior or not, I can go back to that 6 iron, and we won't talk about the putt. I figured I could two jack them there, but I wasn't 100% sure. Never even crossed my mind to try to make it. How bad is that? 6 footer. (Laughter) I half yipped it, too. First time I shook on a putt all week, I went, eeekk, I thought it was going to be a foot short. I was glad it got up to six inches short, but anyway.

Q. A few years ago, the next spring you talked about how it took a while to realize what he won, because the old guy, Cootie and Casper would come up, shake your hand and say you won a hell of a tournament, do you have a sense of the history of this and what you've done and who else's names are on that trophy?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Yeah, I'm going to look at it real hard, and you're exactly right, I will. I've been playing in this tournament since the early 80s, and I know what a big tournament it is. You know, Jack Nicklaus, Jack never won it, did he? That's right, he tried to win this thing so many times and came so close. All of the great champions through the years that have won this thing, I came close a few times over at Glen Abbey, and actually got my name on the roster with Ken Green. Pretty good company right there. (Laughter) 1989, Ken Green. We're going to get him a little tube tied here, what is he? Here he is, Ken Green. (Laughter) 1989. All right, Ken and Arnie. (Laughter) Sam Snead, oh, yeah, this is sweet. Honestly, can't believe it.

Q. You were here in here Thursday or Friday talking about how nobody ever won a tournament that wasn't putting great. Going through what you went through on the weekend, obviously still trying to make putts, but there was a point today where it looked almost as though you get a 15 footer or whatever and you were thinking, I'll just get this down in two. Were you still trying to make every putt or were there putts where you looked at it and just said, let me just get this close?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: No, I was still trying to make them all the way to the last hole. I honestly thought I was going to make the 5 footer on 14. I actually thought on 15 I might, I've got to make one sooner or later and this is going to be big, I hit a good putt and missed.

17, I actually envisioned making that one. I thought to myself, this looks like a putt Tiger would make, just to kind of shut the door, just circle around and give a fist pump. And I hit a nice putt down there, but I didn't make it. No, I was trying to make them, I swear I was. Maybe trying too hard, I don't know.

Q. In the big picture, you were beating yourself up when you first sat down about the psychological demons and so forth, but has intimidation been an issue in recent years? And on a happier note you've already discussed your approach on 18, the 6 footer, tell us about the relief of when the six incher dropped.

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Well, to answer the first part of your question, nobody likes being outhit by 30 or 40 yards when you step up and play with some of these guys. But on the other hand, you know, what Corey Pavin can achieve out here on the PGA TOUR, he's taken divots with his driver. I love Corey. He's amazing. He plays some great golf on some wild courses. Loren Roberts, great friend and hopefully my partner at the Shark Shootout again this year. I admire their mentality to get out hit by 40 yards, 50 yards, every hole, and still be able to compete. It's not an easy thing to do.

Me, you know, Tiger doesn't intimidate me or Vijay or whatever. I thought if I played with Vijay today, that, you know, last time I played with him, I beat him in the '98 Honda, shot 65 the last day. I don't mind staring anybody down on the first tee. What was the second part of your question?

It was slightly embarrassing, lagging a 6 footer, I have to admit. I almost kind of wanted to just I'm sorry, everybody is like, what was that? They wanted me to make that and I was lagging.

But, I'm pretty good at these. I have missed a couple in my life, usually they are I was able to make that one, and you know, reached in there and got the ball and then it hit me; I won the tournament.

Q. You like to play quickly, how does a five hour round like today wear on you when you're in that position?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: It definitely wears on me, especially starting out. It wore on me yesterday, too. The first three holes I think took an hour long, and you know, I understand it's a hard golf course and I've gotten used to the slow play to some degree.

Friday was great. We started on 1 on Friday and it was slow starting off, but then the pace of play was great. We didn't wait a shot on the back nine and I was wondering why it wasn't like that, especially with a low, low cut number, 73, whatever it was, why it was so slow. I understand everybody else had problems out there, too. But yeah, I love to play fast and it would have been easier. Even on 18, I would have liked to have just jumped up on the tee and hit without waiting for them to putt. I got pretty darned nervous standing there in the fairway, I'll tell you that.

Q. I'm wondering, you made a couple of par saves early in your round, I think on 3 and then one out in the sand on 6, how important were those just to keep you going?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Very important. That's a good question. A number No. 3, actually wasn't that hard, I had a perfect line at the bunker and just the fact that the green is so sloped left to right, I just pushed it and it rolled down the hill about eight feet and I was able to make that, which was nice. That was like that was good.

But the one on 6, I hit it out of there, barely got in the bunker and I was hoping to get it somewhere between the hole and Jesper's ball. He was 25 feet past the hole, and I hit it out of there. And I've got good hands and I can get good spin on the ball when I have a good lie. I could hit 100 bunker shots and not hit one that close again. I jumped out of there, saw it was a foot from the hole and Craig Barlow was clapping and I don't know how I did that. I walk around the corner and Jesper looks at me and says, "How the hell did you do that?" It was unbelievable. I mean, go out there until dark and not hit one that close again. It was amazing. You know, it was huge, and just part of the whole week of good things, good saves I made. I made some good saves all week, at least a couple every day.

13, the wedge over the trees, but as you look back, when you win, not only as I said nobody has ever won a tournament without putting good, but nobody has ever won a tournament without getting luckier than hell at some point. I certainly got a lot of good breaks this week and caught some good lies early in the week, a lot of good things went my way this week.

Q. Can you remember back to the second hole? You missed a birdie putt and as you walked off the green you went over and had a little conversation with your wife, it looked like she was giving you a pep talk, were you talking about shopping next week, what was it?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: No, she just kind of looked at me. I was I needed to make that for my confidence, and to make a birdie for a change. I had not made my birdies for a while, and I didn't want the par streak to go on that long. She says, "Okay, honey, it's all right, you hit a great shot in there."

I said, "Yeah, but I really needed to make that one."

She says, "It's all right. I'm going down here and stand over here to the right of the trees where I was the first two days when you made birdie and you'll birdie this hole." I forgot about it right there, ended up making a nice par. I told her, I felt like I needed to make that putt really bad for confidence and to make a birdie for crying out loud. You know, I missed it. I kind of forgot about that short miss. But anyway, that's all that was said.

Q. Did she say anything on 18?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: No. The cameras were just kind of there looking at me and I was trying to get my heart back down into my chest. And I just said, wow. I said hi to my kids, and, you know, I just said, two more putts. I knew I didn't know it was six feet or seven feet, whatever it was. I knew it was on the green and I knew I could 2 putt and win.

Q. Golf is one of those few games where you can take your wives on the road and it's important for some; how important is it for you and does your wife play the role of a psychiatrist at times?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: She definitely does. She's been great for me and she comes nearly every week. There's a few during the course of the year she won't come to for one reason or another. Maybe not a whole lot of excitement in that town or just a so so hotel which we have a lot of times, and that's okay.

We have a new house down in Florida, a small little house. We sold our place at Bear Lakes and bought a place at Mirasol. She's going to go down there for a few days after next week and get it livable. She spent a week down there actually when hurricane Katrina was right at Palm Beach and turned south and skimmed Miami, she was there getting the house ready. We're going to spend the winter there this year. And anyway, I love having her there. I've spent plenty of time in those hotels by myself and it gets old. You know, she's a great support system for me, very lucky.

Q. The golf course has received rave reviews, how important is it that the RCGA and PGA TOUR come back and make a return to Shaughnessy?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Well, it should be a done deal at some point. It just seems like it was an exciting tournament to me. I know I was excited.

And next year, I'm looking forward to defending back at Hamilton, that I actually missed for some unknown reason three years ago, two years ago, whatever it was. Bob Tway won there, right? Everybody said what a great course that was, so I can't wait to see that one. Can't wait to come back here and play, also.

JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Can you go through your birdie and two bogeys?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: My birdie? (Laughter). Great driver drive, 8 iron that never left the flag from 167 to 2 1/2 feet.

By the way, I was nervous as hell over that putt because I haven't made a birdie in 48 hours. I'm like, if I miss that one, I can see the demons popping in there. How can you think about missing that? But I did.

JOAN vT ALEXANDER: The bogey on 10.

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: I decided to hit a 3 wood for a change off 10, and then I ended up hitting some lady, but she was okay and then it bounced back in the rough. Hit in the bunker, had a bad lie in the bunker couldn't get any spin on it, 15 feet long right of the hole and missed that of course.

JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Bogey on 13.

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Bogey on 13, I actually thought I hit a pretty nice drive, after hitting one dead left yesterday, I wasn't going to go over there again. The wind was in right to left and I kind of cut one back into the wind and I thought it was going to hold up in the fairway. But then I think it hit, kicked a foot into the rough and worst lie of the week, by the way. It was barely viewable. I hit it about 70 yards, not even, 60 yards. Sand wedge on the green, another crappy putt, bogey. 15 pars. What did I make, 31 pars on the weekend? Going have to have start calling me the new Nick Faldo.

JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you, Mark, and congratulations.

End of FastScripts.

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