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July 12, 2004

Mark Calcavecchia


STEWART McDOUGALL: Welcome to Mark Calcavecchia. Mark, seems 15 years ago since you won The Open here, back at Troon.


STEWART McDOUGALL: 15. The last time you were here in '97 you finished 10th, so you're obviously playing good at Royal Troon. How is the course playing now?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: It is a great spot for me. The course is awesome. The greens are the best greens that I've seen in the, I guess, 18 years that I've been playing in The British Open. They're beautiful. The course is in great shape. The rough isn't as thick as we've seen at other Opens in the past, but that's fine, and that's probably one of my favorite things about this golf tournament, is a lot of times we just play the course as the members play it and they don't try to kill it or -- with the exception of Carnoustie, of course, which was kind of an accident. But the course is just perfect, it really is. And I haven't been playing that great lately. And sure enough, I show up here yesterday afternoon and went out and played 9 holes, and the last shot I hit at Loch Lomond yesterday morning I tried an experiment, about No. 50, and hit a great 4-iron. And the last 27 holes I played here, maybe part of the reason is I love it here and I'm excited to be here, I hit it great today. So it's pretty exciting.

Q. Did you keep score today?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: No, I didn't. Actually the front nine -- I did yesterday, actually, the nine holes I played I made four birdies and a triple (laughter). I tripled 17. It was blowing pretty hard and I couldn't get there with my 2-iron and I hit it in the first bunker on the left about 12 yards short of the green, hit up short of the lip, it was right up against it. So I kept hitting it to see how many shots it would take me to get it out of there. And I finally had to hit it out sideways. But at least I know that now.

But anyways, today there was a pretty good breeze blowing this morning. I spent a lot of time working on my chipping, especially from over the greens, on the front nine going out. If you're downwind and you don't drive it in the fairway or whatever, or if you misjudge the wind or the bounce, the ball goes through the green really quick. So I just practiced my chipping every hole from behind the green on the front nine.

But to answer your question, I did make at least five or six birdies that I was aware of out there.

Q. And I also wanted to ask if you could talk about the nature of this links of having to make your hay, if you will, on the front nine, if there's anything else like that that you play?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: You know, the only other time I can think of really is St. Andrews. If you're downwind on the front, you pretty much need to get the first 7 holes and hopefully drive it on 10. You turn back into the wind and then you've got your work cut out for you. But here especially that's the case. Usually we're downwind, down right-to-left wind on the front nine.

And 1, a lot of guys are driving it on that green, or right around it. Same on No. 3, if the wind is blowing, a 285 carry these days with our equipment over the little ditch there on 3 is nothing for most of these guys. And you can get your ball right in front of that green. 4 and 6 are -- 4, I hit a 7-iron into that hole, par-5 yesterday and a 5-iron today. So it's playing firm and fast. And with the wind, the front 9 is short. Some guys may try to drive 7 and just plow one over the corner.

You're going to see a lot of birdies, and sure enough, some eagled on the front 9. If you can par 8, the 9th hole is just a 4-iron and a wedge or a 9-iron. But then you get to the 10th tee and the fun starts.

I hate to say, if the wind is blowing pretty good, which I hope it does, I've got to believe the back nine will play, on stroke average, my guesstimate will be five shots harder.

Q. Could you expand a little bit about the greens, what sets them apart from the greens you've played? Are they smooth, are they fast, or firm?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: All three. They're very smooth. Again, I think they're the best greens that I've ever seen for The Open Championship, very firm, even into the wind, some of the shots I hit just with wedges, you know, for practice, you really can't even find the ball mark and there's really no ball marks on the greens, period. I hadn't thought about bending down -- I've looked for my ball marks, but I haven't been able to see them. But as far as putting around the greens, there's no ball marks, there's no nothing. They're perfect. They are very firm.

Downwind even if they did layup on the first hole and had an 80-yard L-wedge, you're still going to have to fly short of the green. The first hop is enormous. And even bringing anything longer than a sand wedge in there you're for sure going to have to bounce it quite a ways short of the green. I think today on 4 I hit a -- I had 240 to the front, hit a 5-iron. I normally fly my 5-iron about 195 to 200, so I probably figure I needed to fly it 30, 40 yards short of the green and I hit a good shot, kind of high, landed probably 30, 40 yards short of the green and over. So it was your stock 270-yard 5-iron (laughter). And I'm not one of the longer guys by any stretch with my irons. So depending on how windy it is going out, you're going to see balls landing way short of the greens. You can't really fly anything on the green even with a wedge. But then when you come back into the wind you can, even with -- I hit a 3-iron into 13 today, it was a nice, high 3-iron. It landed somewhere in the front of the green and ended up in the middle of the green. It only rolled 20 feet after it hit, but downwind a wedge will bounce, hit and release 30, 40, or 50 feet. It's all about the wind here, for sure.

Q. I wonder if you could take us back to 1989. Relive that one for us.

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Well, again, obviously the greatest thing that's ever happened to me in the game of golf. At that time in my career I was very confident. I thought I was one of the best players in the world, which I was. I'd won four tournaments in about a 7-month period, heading into this tournament. And kind of reminded myself of Ernie or Phil or some of these guys now that are 29, 30 years old, when they show up at a tournament they're expecting to win the tournament or be right there on Sunday. And that was kind of my mindset. So I just played along as the week went along and did my thing, played good, and obviously got some help from Wayne Grady.

I saw Wayne today on the range and we were talking about it a little bit. I know Wayne bogeyed 17 five times in a row, so he went out there and looked at that bunker and had a few words to say to it. But then the playoff -- anyway, Wayne made a couple of bogeys on the par-3s, and the next thing I know we're in a playoff. It just happened, which was great for me, but it's much harder today. Being 44 years old and winning this tournament -- or what winning any major would mean is far more significant today than it was 15 years ago, at least in my position and in my mind. But that was a great day for me. And I remember it very well.

Q. How do you measure your career? Do you have 11, 12 Tour wins and a major?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: 10 Tour wins and a major, which now they count The Open as a Tour win and the Australian Open, the Argentina Open, the Korean Open, which no one even knew about, so I did win something this year (laughter). I've won five or six others around the world, and if I had to give you an answer to that right now, I don't think I'm done, by any stretch, but at this point I wouldn't say underachiever would be a definition, but I should have won far more.

After I won this tournament in '89 I would have thought for sure I'd have had at least one more major by now. I haven't really come close. I had a chance at Augusta in '01 and the PGA actually in '01. I think I finished fourth in both of those. You can always look back and say I should have worked harder, I should have did this, I should have did that, but I think I've done all right. And I'm not -- no regrets, really. I had a great time.

Hopefully I can get myself in a little bit better shape, which I've tried to do. I haven't really worked out, but I've still got a lot of good shots in me, and we can still wreak some havoc somewhere, hopefully, six days from now a miracle could happen.

Q. What have you tried to do workout-wise?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Well, early in the year I went to Athletes Performance in Tempe, which is a pretty high profile athletic thing that they work you hard. It's a two or three-hour thing every day, you know, stretching, trying to open up my hips to loosen up my back. And I gave that about six weeks. I really didn't lose any weight, but I gained a lot of muscle. That's what they tell you. Yeah. But how come I'm not losing any weight working out so hard? Yeah. But I'm gaining a lot of muscle mass. Yeah, right. I worked hard at it, didn't lose any weight, and quite honestly didn't feel any better. My back hurt just as bad as it did six weeks beforehand. I told them when I'm on the road it's hard for me to work out. When I get done, I like to go take a nap, take it easy, watch TV or whatever, and save my energy for the golf. And then after a couple of weeks on the road when I get home the last thing I want to go do is spend three hours working out when I want to rest.

So it just wasn't -- I didn't have the energy for it. It didn't work out. But I know what I need to do to lose weight and to feel better. It's just a question of doing it.

Q. What do you recall about -- specifically about the last round in '89?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Well, I never really thought much about winning the tournament until my very last hole, which was the 72nd hole. Greg Norman shot 64, Wayne Grady was 15-under, somewhere's around 8, 9 or 10. And when I flew the chip in the hole on No. 12 it just completely changed my spirits. I started off hitting the ball well on Sunday and I remember most every shot. But then 7 through 12 I was all over the place.

The 11th hole I was left, right, left, on, and made a 50-footer for par. 12, dead right, left, fly in and then after that I really didn't miss a shot. I hit two great shots into 16 and 2-putted for birdie. And Greg was already in, as I said, at 13-under. And then I just realized I needed to birdie the last hole to have any chance, although Wayne Grady was still 15-under. But Greg was 13. So I thought I better hit this one close. And sure enough, I hit a great shot 4 feet left of the hole and made that one. And Wayne bogeyed 14 and 17 for us. And we just -- after I got done, I stood over there to the right, right of the green and watched the board and went in the little trailer to see what Wayne was doing and, sure enough, found myself in a playoff. And didn't know it was a four-hole playoff. I asked what hole the playoff was on, assuming it was either 17 or 18. And the guy said 1. And I was like, 1? Driver, chip, par-4, that's a strange hole to have a sudden death playoff on for a sudden-death championship. They said 1, 2, 17, 18. And I said, that's great. And I didn't even know that. I was like, thank God, that's awesome, especially since Greg birdied 1 (laughter). And it would have been over. But then I made a nice about 25-footer on 2, but Greg poured another one in there. And he was 2-under, I was 1-under and Wayne was even.

And then Wayne bogeyed 17 from that bunker that I think he had it in five days in a row. And what I think probably one of the best breaks I got, other than actually flying the ball in the hole was I think Greg made -- he may admit this today, a pretty gross error by deciding to chip the ball from behind the 17th. He hit a beautiful iron in there, he actually hit it too good as he did his drive on 18. There was no grass there. It was just a couple of little wispy brown pieces of grass and he decided he was going to chip it with a 7-iron. When I would have had my putter out so fast, as I think probably everybody in the field would have had. I told my caddy, I can't believe he's chipping this, and sure enough he chipped it about 10 feet by and missed it. And Wayne bogeyed. So we were both 1-under and Wayne was 1-over. And then of course Greg hit it in the bunker and I hit a great shot from the right rough and that was it.

I believe when you win tournaments, especially of this magnitude, or any tournament. And of course 72 holes, some fairly miraculous things have to happen to you in terms of luck. There's never been anyone that's won a major championship without getting incredibly lucky somewhere along the way, and I got a bunch of good breaks. It was a time of my life -- and I think the best players do get the best breaks because they're good.

Q. Where does that second shot in the 18th playoff rank in your list of achievements?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Got to be my best ever. It was a little bit of a flare lie. I had 201 yards. It was a little bit into the wind. With the little flags, it looks like it's forever up there. And I thought -- I was going to hit a 4-iron, but I thought if this jumps a little bit, with Greg in the face of the bunker, even if it doesn't jump, I'm still 40 feet short, but I'm on the green, and I'm not OB in the clubhouse. So I went with a 5-iron, when again normally I probably would have hit a 4, but I was juiced up and just hit it and it just never left the flag. And I swung hard at it and looked up and it was just flying right at it. I knew it wasn't a real hot flier, and it just -- I knew it was going to be perfect the whole way. I kept looking at it and it landed in the middle of the green and rolled up there. From where we were standing it looked like this (indicating). It looked like a foot or two. And I think that's why Greg tried to hit some sort of miraculous shot, rather than hitting it 30 yards up the fairway. And he actually hit it -- as high as he can hit it, he's the only guy that can hit it as far as he can hit it next to the bunker, and from there he then putted it and Axed after that.

But that 5-iron -- it will go down as my best ever shot, unless something else miraculous happens in the next six days.

Q. Why do you think the Americans seem to have some recent success here?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: That's a good question. I'm not sure I have an answer. Although obviously it's links golf, I think it's somewhat normal links golf as opposed to -- although Ben Curtis won last year, you know maybe some of the other courses favor the Europeans a little bit more than this one, especially the front, fairways are pretty flat. We know, being golfers all our lives, when it's hard you've got to bounce the ball short. It doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure that out. And I think it's just -- it's a great course. It's all right in front of you. And I don't think you have to play 20 rounds of golf here to understand the course like you might at -- even St. Andrews or Royal St. Georges last year. That could probably be the only thing I can think of.

And I think the weather, for the most part, '89 it was great, obviously, it was a pretty nice week of weather, and '97 as well. And I don't remember, when Tom won in '82, was it, Watson, and then Weiskopf in '73, but I think the weather was pretty decent then, too. So maybe that and coupled with decent weather that we're more used to.

Q. Forgive me if you think I'm being rude by describing you as an old-geeser, but you've been around a while and are experienced. Is everything in golf in 2004 as good as it was or better than it was?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Golf in general?

Q. Anything you like.

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: You know, I think the state of the game is just -- yeah, as good as it's ever been. As you said, I've been around quite a while. I've seen a lot and been at it 24 years now on the Tour. You know what, I'm still trying to learn things, too. I played with two kids last week that were 23 years old. That kind of reminded me of me when I was 23, very talented, great attitudes, and they were just loving to play golf. So that was refreshing to see.

And the young kids today are awesome. Our college kids in America, I don't know what they're like here, I'm sure there are a lot of great young players here, also. There's probably some kids now that are just Tiger Woods-ish. We may not even know who they are yet. But there's probably a couple of 13-year-olds out there shooting 66 every day. Our technology is about as good as it's going to get, I think. And Thomas Levet shooting 63. Anybody, any week, can win. And I think anybody playing this tournament can win. A couple of guys last week we never heard of, or I never heard of anyways, were leading the Scottish Open, and Steven O'Hara shot 66 Saturday. That guy could win any tournament he plays. He's 23 years old. It's just massive amounts of talent.

Q. If you were 21 now, would you do what all the 21-year-olds are doing, getting up, going to the gym, everything?


Q. Why not?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: I've always said I'd rather have a root canal than go to the gym for three hours. There's just certain things that are -- I can hit balls for about an hour. I go work with Butch Harmon -- two hours is about all I can last. And some of these guys stand out there for three hours in the morning, and have lunch, and another two or three in the afternoon. I could never do it. It's just not my makeup. I do not love the art of standing on a range watching a golf ball fly through the air. I love to play good golf and I certainly practiced very hard when I was in my 20's, but I would say not like the young guys of today.

Q. You used the word miracle twice in reference to chances of winning. Do you feel like it would be a miracle if you won? And how would you assess your chances? And secondly, do you have any favorite stories about No. 8?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Your first question, just short of a miracle. Everything would have to go great for me. This year my golf game has been very good at times, and awful at times. And all that could happen in one round. I haven't been very consistent. I feel like I'm driving it great. I drove it great last week, but my iron game was pitiful and I couldn't read the greens. This week I love the greens. Yesterday when I went out and played 9 holes, the first and third hole I made 20-footers.

I just spent 72 holes at Loch Lomond and made two 12-footers. My next longest putt was a 5-footer. You can't beat anybody making nothing over five feet. So I love the greens, and I understand them and I can read the greens, and that's a big thing for me, because you have to make putts.

I've had a 1st and a 10th here. What is my goal? My goal is to win. And it is a possibility, but for me to beat Ernie and Phil and all the rest of the world's best players over four days here would be shocking, as you would say, a shocker (laughter). What was the second part of that?

Q. No. 8?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: I don't know. It's a hard hole. I was nervous today and it was a practice round, and it was a 9-iron and the wind wasn't blowing very hard. I do remember a few of the places I've hit it there. But I haven't seen anything worse than a double there, of a guy going back and forth or getting up on the hill, I can't remember who I played with, but some guy was on his knees in the left bunker trying to figure out how to hit it one day. You'll get some interesting stance and predicaments. It's definitely a hole considering there's no water or anything like that, obviously, anywhere near that; four 3s anyone will take. When the pin is back, I can't see anybody, unless they're way over, you know, or shooting a million and going to miss the cut, trying to get anywhere near the hole. About ten paces on the green is a perfect spot. To me it doesn't matter where the pin is, you're trying to hit a 9-iron or a punch 8 if the wind is blowing, or even a 7. I think I hit a 7-iron in '97, the first round, maybe. But it's just -- it's an awesome little hole. But I, myself, haven't seen anything very memorable there.

Q. Last year was the year of surprises in the Majors. Do you think this year is more likely to be the year of where the established people will come back or are we set for some more surprises, do you think?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: You never know. You're right, last year we had four first-time winners and that continued with Phil. But Phil is not what we call a first-time winner, if you know what I mean. Obviously one of the game's best players for a long time. So Retief, he's won a lot of tournaments all over the world in the last year. So he's obviously one of the world's best players. It's kind of trendy, it goes in streaks. As I said, certainly one of the top five players in the world could win this week or Thomas Levet could win this week. It was just two years ago he was in a playoff in Muirfield. Miguel Angel Jimenez is having a phenomenal year. So it's impossible to answer that, whether it's going to be Tiger Woods or Ernie Els or Phil Mickelson or a qualifier, honestly. Today's mindset, I think, anybody can win.

End of FastScripts.

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