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September 24, 2002

Mark Calcavecchia


GORDON SIMPSON: Mark, well, here we are, ready to play at last, a long wait, but what are your thoughts on the De Vere Belfry, what's your assessment?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: It has been a long wait and I'm glad to be here finally. It's been since '91, so 12 years since I've been on a team. And nearly made it in '95, was looking forward to that, but just missed out. But at any rate we're here. I'm glad to get the week started. It was nice to go out and play today. The course is quite a bit different than what I remember of it in '89, as far as how narrow the fairways are, and the fairway bunkering and things like that. But it's the same for both teams. So you need your straight ball out here this week, is going to be the main thing, I think. But just looking forward to Friday and getting going with this thing.

GORDON SIMPSON: Does it help to actually get playing again today? There's so much hype, so much waiting.

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Yeah, it's nice to get out and see the course again. And kind of get a feel for -- because I remembered most of the holes, and get a feel for what the holes look like again, even though a lot of them look quite a bit different than what I remember them looking like in '89, I remember the first hole just being a tighter, straight hole, instead of a wider fairway that narrows with the fairway bunkers, it's a completely different opening tee shot than what I remembered. But just to get that visual in my head eased a lot of tension.

Q. It appears that you'll be playing with Tiger on Friday. Your thoughts on that pairing, if it happens?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: If it happens, and who wouldn't want it to happen, really? He played great again today. He's obviously swinging at it great, which he does most every day. So there's a little extra, different kind of pressure of being his partner in the sense that you want to play so well to try to help him out. But on the other hand I've also got the mindset going that whether it's him or whoever it is, I've got 11 other teammates in this deal, and I don't have to take the whole load of this whole thing on myself. And for some reason I felt like I did in the other three I played in, or at least felt that I had to carry my partner or something. So now I think the shoe is a little bit on the other foot. And I just hope I can play -- I know I will play some good golf. I feel like I'm hitting it pretty good, and will help him out if needed.

Q. Your reaction in '91, when you halved with Monty, is well documented. Is that the worst experience you've had in Ryder Cup and in golf in general?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Yeah, probably yes to both those questions. I handled that situation poorly. The last four holes that I lost, I really played 16 and 18 pretty good, I just hit one club too many or hit it actually through the wind. So 17 was awful, but bottom line was I still missed a two-footer that I should have made, even after topping it in the water. It didn't ruin me or throw me off for a couple of years like a lot of people think. And really right after that -- well, actually when Bernhard was putting on 18, I was still kind of shaken up about the whole deal. And then when he missed it, I was down off to the front short of the green with Payne and Dave Stockton and a few other guys, I can't remember who. I just remember when he missed it, Payne jumped up and gave me a big hug, and said that my half point won it for us. And that made me feel better at the time. But I still go back and I look at the pictures of it. My face was still kind of flushed. I was still kind of red about how upset I'd gotten about it. Basically I knew when I lost those last four holes to Colin, that half point, it was going to come down to that and it did. But even though we won, I was just still so freaked out that it all came down to that and it really didn't have to. I felt like it was my fault. I thought a lot about it -- not a lot, but if the same sort of thing happens -- and I sure as heck hope it doesn't -- if it comes down to that, I'm not going to freak out, believe me. I'm going to do the best I can for three days of golf and see what happens.

Q. Tiger's record in golf is obviously unparalleled. But when you look at his Ryder Cup, he's 3, 6 and 1. Is it just Ryder Cup or why do you think he doesn't have a good record at Ryder Cup?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: That's a mystery to me, also. I'm 0 and 4 in best ball, and 4 and 0 in alternate shot, and you wouldn't think that would be the case, either. Sometimes in the fourball you run into a hot team.

Obviously guys get all jacked up to play Tiger, because they know they've got to play great to beat him. And on occasion that happens. A few other occasions maybe Tiger wasn't at his best or what have you. You certainly wouldn't think that, but he may go 5 and 0 this week and all of a sudden be 8, 6 and 1. You never know. Match play is -- is an interesting game, where sometimes you can play great and lose, and other times you can play bad and win. I think there's a little more of that involved in it.

Q. You've told us in the past, as recently as the PGA that when you've struggled this year, it's the thought of the Ryder Cup that made it so stressful to you. What about this specific event makes -- dominates your thoughts so much?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Well, now that I'm here, as I kind of just said earlier I'm feeling better about the whole thing already. And I knew once I got here and once I played a few rounds and got all settled in and everything that I would feel better. I've been kind of inconsistent this year, and I've gone through stretches where my putting hasn't been great, and stretches where it's been phenomenal. I don't know why I'm so inconsistent, but now I think -- I putted real good on Sunday last week, and I putted good today. So now already I'm feeling better about that. I putted just awful the first three days last week, and now the last couple of days really good. So that's kind of me in a nutshell.

Q. I guess my question was why is the Ryder Cup a source of that stress when you're struggling, week-in and week-out?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Because of the pressure involved in the tournament. This is probably the most pressure-packed event, world famous golf event, so to speak, even in my opinion, probably ahead of the four majors in terms of who knows about it and the amount of people that watch it and the amount of press that cover it, I think, I could be wrong. But it's a pretty big deal. The event, I think, magnifies your weaknesses and magnifies the pressure. If you're not swinging at it too good, it may not be a great place to be.

Q. Aside from yourself, can you see any logical reason why the Americans seem to struggle in alternate shot?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: No, I can't. Honestly there's really no reason why we do, other than the fact that we never play it. But I don't think the Europeans do, either. I like it. I just think it's kind of fun to hit one shot every 20 minutes (laughter.) You can kind of play the first hole and just take a right or a left and head down two fairways, and watch the ball fly. And that's in the bunker or that's in the trees, nice shot. And then I get up and hit it some place, and I'm up on the green waiting for Tiger or whoever. I don't know, I think it's fun because you know you don't have to birdie every hole. You can run into a hot best ball team, and watch iron shot after iron shot fly at the hole, and say they're going to birdie this hole, too, or here comes another birdie. Sometimes if you don't keep pace, you can get steam rolled.

John Houston watched two Japanese guys at the Presidents Cup, birdie 12 of the 13 holes. We got smoked. You can win some holes with par, and that's why I like alternate shot, because of the narrow fairways and deep rough.

Q. How well did you know the players on the European team on your first Ryder Cup, how well do you know them now and what kind of difference does that make?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Probably -- yeah, I remember most of them. I knew all the guys, obviously, that I played in '89. We played Seve and Jose in a match. And I lost in the singles, and Ken Green and I beat Gordon Brand, Junior or somebody else. I probably knew the guys back in '89 better than I do now. I really don't know Niclas Fasth or Pierre or a couple of the other rookie guys. Who am I missing? Actually I played with Phillip Price a couple of times, very nice guy. But other than like Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood and Monty and a few of the others, I probably -- the other six or seven I really don't know at all.

Q. Just in terms of the passion with each team with this event, there seems to be a perception maybe the European side is more passionate about wanting the Cup. I'm wondering if you feel that is a misperception, A, and B, how much do you feel that the passion for wanting that cup comes into play this week, in terms of the pressure and whatnot?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Well, actually Curtis sort of mentioned something about that last night and we talked about '99 and it was like, how could we be four points down, how could we get that far behind and he just thinks that coming right out of the box, the Europeans have been more into it, more passionate, more ready to play. And that's what he talked about. He wants us to -- he says, no matter what happens, I want you to come out firing. I want you to be ready, because there's no reason that we should fall into a big hole like that and have to dig ourselves out. And I guess in seven of the last Ryder Cups we've been down going into the singles. That's what somebody told me. He's trying to make us aware that he doesn't want that to happen again. And whether they're more passionate right out of the bat, that's a distinct possibility. I don't want to use the word overconfident, but maybe the U.S. side has been a little more like, "we should win this thing," type thing. And the next thing you know we're in a hole getting beat. So we're going to try to not let that happen.

Q. Your thoughts on 10 being played all the way back, and not being as reachable as it has been in the past?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Yeah. In '89, I just remember the tee being further left and a little shorter than that, where the green was more visible, and it was more just kind of a straight shot or to a slight fade. I think the hole is worse now. I think it's a great hole a little shorter and a little further left angle, risk/reward type thing, where you can make a 2 or 3 or hit it in the water or trees, you can make anything. It's a match play hole. Obviously this is a match play tournament. And I think it's fun for the spectators and everybody else, the TV audience to watch guys try to take a rip at it. But Paul Azinger said he just doesn't see himself going at that green, and there's quite a few other guys of the 24 that won't, either. I think it's a great little hole, but I think the tee should be further left and a little up.

End of FastScripts....

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