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September 9, 2005

Mark Calcavecchia


JOE CHEMYCZ: We welcome Mark Calcavecchia to the interview room. Mark, another good round today, 3 under par 67. That matches your best 36 hole start in the Canadian Open, which was 8 under par in 1989 when you tied for second that year at Glen Abbey. So congrats on good play, and maybe talk about your round and the first two days.

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Yeah, that's a good sign. Today I felt good. I actually, starting out almost felt too relaxed. It was such a nice, cool morning and I hit an awful iron into the first hole, just a chunk, fanned it to the right and made bogey. Another terrible iron into 2, and I thought for a minute I might be in trouble. I made a great up and down left of the green on 2. I hit a great 5 iron on 3 to about two feet and made birdie.

After that, I was fine. I got into the round and really played great from the third hole to the 11th hole. Birdied 3, 7, 8, 9. That pretty much sort of set my round in the spot I ended up. I played okay in the back, but birdied the last hole which was nice, two real good ones there. Overall, anything par or better on this golf course is really good. Taking it one day at a time and love to shoot in the 60s again tomorrow.

JOE CHEMYCZ: Have you ever had that feeling where you were too relaxed before?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: It's been a long time, I'll tell you that. Last time I was too relaxed when I was like 9 over through 15 and I didn't give a crap. That's when I'm too relaxed, when I'm so out of it I can't even concentrate.

No, I felt great. Actually on the back nine, I got a little anxious on 15 and 16. I hit a couple of bad 3 woods and made a pair of 5S, I feel like I left a couple of strokes out there on those two holes. That's why making birdie on 18 really felt good, kind of making up for that.

Q. You spoke of the back nine being more scorable, yet you did most of your work on the front nine today.

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Birdieing 7, 8 and 9. Then made a nice par from the left rough on 10, and then hit it in there like 10 feet on 11. I'm like, all right, I'm playing the hard holes great. If I can make this one on 11, not that I was thinking ahead, but I knew 12 through 17 were coming up. I figured I might make a few more birdies on those holes. That was a tough putt on 11 and I missed it; didn't faze me any.

Played okay on the other holes, but 15, I just hit a terrible 3 wood to the right and same on 16, into the right rough. Made a pair of 5S there, just a couple of bad 3 woods. I felt like I lost a couple of shots there. That's going to happen on this course. If you can birdie some of the hard holes, it gives you a little bit of space to screw up the easier ones.

Q. I think at Tucson this year you started maybe 64 65; 129 or 132, which is the better golf of the two?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Definitely 8 under here is far superior to 15 under there. This course is probably at least five shots harder than Tucson National. You know, not that there's anything wrong with Tucson National. You know you need to get to 20 under par to have a chance to win that tournament basically. That's definitely not the case here.

I don't know what's going to win, but I'm just going to try to make as many birdies as I can and whatever I shoot, if I win, it's fine, I don't care if it's 14 under for 4 under. Like I said, I don't know what's going to happen on the weekend but I'm just enjoying my golf this week and playing well.

Q. Along those lines, yesterday you said you had heard on some of the reports people said 10 under is going to win, and you even said yesterday after you shot 65 that you didn't think people would get to 10 under. Now you're at 8 under through 36. What do you think will be different on the weekend? Will they make it tougher?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: You know, I saw where most of the pins were for tomorrow. The greens are so small, there's not a whole lot of places they can hide the pins. Some of them are pretty slopey, so they have to kind of keep them in some of the same areas.

You know, if you'd ask me Wednesday I could shoot 10 under par on this course, I'd have told you no. Ask me now, I'll tell you yeah. It's like every week, guys surprise me. It's like at Congressional I remember in '97 when Ernie Els won, I thought that was the hardest course I ever saw. I was like, no way was anybody going to break par; three guys did.

I agreed with the 5 to 10 under, but I think it was going to be more like 5 , or 6 under might win this thing. The weather has been perfect, too. You have to take that into consideration. Very little wind, the course is in perfect shape, greens are perfect and still pretty soft. So that's adding to the good scores that there are. If the greens were hard and it was windy, it would be brutal.

Q. How much grief has it given you over the years with your short putting in particular, even before you finally settled on the Claw, when you had that little putt to win at Vancouver, maybe a foot, foot and a half, and you said later that you were uptight about that.

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Oh, yeah. For years, even dating back to the late 80s when I was making everything I was looking at, I still missed a lot of short putts, because I cannot stay still over short putts. You know, you look at guys like Len Mattiace, Chris Riley, their heads just don't move Mickelson, until the ball is halfway to the hole; Tiger; Mike Weir, stays as still as anybody. If I try to keep my head dead still, I'll yank it every time. I've just got to look. I can't stand it. So I just try to stay as still as I can. Believe it or not, I think about my knees. I try to keep my knees still and not my head.

But anyway, to answer your question, I get pretty nervous over short putts on occasion and I missed a few shore tees that hurt; namely, that 2 footer against Monty in the Ryder Cup on 17 for double, one I could have won the match with.

But anyway, with the Claw, I don't yip anymore. That's why I use the claw because I get a little shaky with my right hand. I even did, back in the early 80s, I would get a little shaky. And that's why it's been a great grip for me, because now my wrist is locked in there and I can at least hit a decent putt.

Q. Just to follow up, have you had anybody ever I know a lot of players do this, sort of monitor things, like your heart rate and anxiety level while you're over those putts; have they done that?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: No. I don't want to know any of that. (Laughter). I know what my heart feels like and my gut feels like. I don't want anybody else telling me.

Q. You birdied four of first the six par 3s, I think you have four birdies, are they all birdie opportunities out here or are you just hitting it tight?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: The third hole, though it's 200 yards long, I think really is a birdie hole, especially where the pin was the last few days, because all you've got to do is fly it in the center of the green somewhere on the front and it will ramp right down to the hole. I hit two good shots there.

8, I would not call eight a birdie opportunity at all. I hit a 4 iron in there about six feet today which was a great shot.

12 is a birdie hole. I think 12 is the easiest par 3. Yesterday the pin was right down the front. It was an easy hole.

17 is actually a pretty tricky little par 3 because of the green.

They are not super difficult par 3s, but you don't really step up there looking, planning on making 2.

Q. You've indicated you like playing in Canada, you've had some success here, was there any other indication coming into this week, anything else that told you you were going to have this kind of a start?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: No. I played okay in Hartford two weeks ago. Didn't really get over the hump. Finished like 43 or something. God's honest truth, I got home late Sunday night Phoenix time, and when I left Monday morning to come up here, I had to unzip my bag to throw a couple different clubs in. Never touched a club, never even unzipped them for seven straight days in Phoenix at home.

And the reason I did that is because I knew, my caddie this week is a friend from Seattle, Rick Harris is his name, and a friend from Florida was up visiting him. So I knew we were going to play Monday. I didn't think I was going to get in the Pro Am so I was going to play a practice round here Tuesday, and we were going to play someplace else Wednesday. I figured I had three round of golf, and hitting balls, I'd be plenty loose by Thursday.

But no, to answer your question, I had no clue I was going to play this well.

Q. When you get to this point, do you have to pace yourself a little more?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: No, I'm not a workaholic. My back hurts too bad to stand out there hitting many balls. You know, I do hit some, as needed. I'm not going to go to the range today or the putting green. I've got a real good feel of what I'm doing with my swing. I practice kind of as I need to. I wish I practiced more because I don't practice enough, but I've always been that way.

Q. Were you glad to get off the course before the wind had a chance to pick up? Were you checking it as you were leaving; looked like you were glancing up?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: I looked at my caddie at 18 and said, "Now the wind can start blowing." A little gust came up, and I said, all right, a little afternoon wind would be nice.

I kind of got a little sloppy on my back nine, kind of like I did yesterday, also. I played great for 11 or 12 holes yesterday and then sort of hit some loose shots towards the latter part of my round, and I did that today on 15 and 16. I was ready to get off the course.

Q. Heading into weekend play with the position you're in right now, how do you focus for the weekend, and do you change your game at all?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: No. I'll be ready to go tomorrow. The first hole is a hard hole. I just love to hit a good drive there and make a par and then from there, you know, get it down the second fairway. And if you do that, you've just got a wedge or 9 iron to that green, hopefully make a birdie or something there, and just get her going from there. See if you can make a birdie somewhere, get to 7, the par 5, hopefully birdie that hole and, you know, ideally you'll be 1 or 2 under at that point and just go from there. That's kind of the way I'm looking at it.

Not really going to pay attention to what anybody else is doing tomorrow. Just I'll be worrying about my own self and just shoot the lowest score I can on every hole. Everybody says that every week. It's kind of a boring thing to say. But if I'm looking at making a bogey, I hope to make a bogey, not a double. And vice versa if I got one in there and got a good birdie putt at it, I'm looking to make that.

I don't have a goal of trying to shoot a certain score or number on this course. I don't think you can do that. I think you've just got to get it in the fairway and get it on the green if you can.

Q. Just away from your game for a moment, this Canadian Open marks the 50th anniversary that Arnold Palmer won his first PGA TOUR event. Just talk with about what Arnie, after all of these years what he meant to the game in your mind?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Oh, yeah, he was, shoot, unbelievable, what he did or the game of golf. I still watch those old matches with Arnie and Jack and Gary Player and stuff. He was definitely the Tiger Woods of his era for sure. We probably wouldn't be sitting here today without him for sure.

Q. You're going to be in the last group tomorrow, one of the last groups depending what happens; do you enjoy more not having to sit around all day and not waiting to tee off at 3:00 or 3:30 or something like that?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Yeah, it's nice to play I'm done. I'm going to go back and take it easy and watch some of the tournament on TV this afternoon and kind of look at the computer and see where I sit.

Then, you know, tomorrow, the tee times, is that what you're saying? They are from 8:00 to 10:00. Yeah, that is, that's tough when you're out there on the East Coast and you've got that 2:10 tee time or that 2:15 tee time, or even later, some of the ones. Yeah, that's good for me, because I'm a morning guy.

So definitely, sitting around all morning is tough when you're sitting on the lead and you've got a little tension going, you don't know what to do with yourself. You can only watch SportsCenter so much, you know.

Q. Specifically what have you done do you think better than most; I think only ten percent of the field is under par and you're way under. What have you done maybe specifically that's made you kind of just be that much better than everybody so far?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Well, I think I've gotten some good breaks for sure. I haven't hit it in the heavy rough too often. I just had a couple of times where I've been in the bad rough, and luckily the holes I did hit it in the rough on have been a couple of par 5s and a couple of short par 4s.

So I was able to get it to the green where it wasn't a chip out situation. I've only made three bogeys I guess, and that's pretty good around here. I think it starts off the tee here. I think I've driven it well and the times I have hit it in the rough, like I said, have been on the short holes where I can still make par. I think that's the key for me.

Q. What did you do during your week long layoff?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Carpooled. Drove my son to and from school a lot. I had a couple nice dinners, and, you know, when I'm home I have the kids. Cooked out, steaks and stuff. Time goes by quick on just the one week off deal. Stayed inside a lot. There's not a whole lot you can do in Arizona in the summer, or really want to do. Drive to school, go home, take a nap, know watch a little TV, take another nap, go back to school, come home, open a bottle of wine, cook some food, day over, go to bed at 9:00. It goes amazingly fast.

JOE CHEMYCZ: Let's go over your birdies and bogeys, starting at 1.

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Bogeyed 1. Chunked a 5 iron short right of the green in the rough and had no chance to get it up and down.

Birdied 3. Hit a 5 iron to two feet.

Birdied 7. One of those holes I hit it in the rough and hacked it out with an 8 iron. Hit a hard sand wedge, not a very good shot, about 20 feet short right of the hole and made that.

8th hole, I hit a great high 4 iron in there about six feet and made that.

Good shot into 9 with a 7 iron about 20 feet above right of the hole. That one broke about a foot and a half right to left and looped it right in there just right, made that one.

Bogeyed 16. Bad 3 wood into the right rough, and actually had a decent lie but caught a vicious flyer. I didn't think it was going to come out like that at all. Went over the green into the haze and didn't get it up and down.

18, my best drive of the day. I only had a hard pitching wedge to the green and hit it in there about six feet short of the hole and made that.

JOE CHEMYCZ: Thank you, Mark. Play well on the weekend.

End of FastScripts.

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