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March 21, 2002

Mark Calcavecchia


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: We'd like to welcome Mark Calcavecchia to the media center.

Thanks for taking a few minutes coming in. You finished at 3-under par, 69. If you could just talk a little bit about your round today and how it went.

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: It went good. I was a little -- I still am uncertain about my putting. I'm going with a bellybutton Claw this week. I tried the bellybutton putter a month ago and was pretty bad with it, except from about inside five or six feet.

So I just opened up my stance and tried the bellybutton Claw, and all of a sudden it felt better. And now I'm really good with it from inside about 10 or 12 feet, but the long ones are still a little grim. I was just a little uneasy about that. But made a nice 8-footer for birdie on 11, and a good putt for par on 12 from about six feet.

From that point on I was not too worried about it. It was a tough day; it was windy. 69 is a good score, and on a day like today, you just need to chip and putt well, which is just how you're going to get around without doing anything drastic, keeping it out of the water and whatnot.

Every green I missed, I got up-and-down for par, only made one bogey and 3-putted 17. I probably didn't hit nine or ten greens; so my chipping and irons were good.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: You started on the back side and birdied No. 11.

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Right. I hit a good 3-wood on the left fringe and blew that by about eight feet, which I was like, wow, explosion, the putter thing; and then I made that one coming back, which almost surprised me a little bit.

Then I made a couple really good pars after that. On 14, I hit it in the right rough right there in those dips and wedged out and almost shanked that one behind a tree. I was still in the rough 150 yards from the hole and hit a punch-slice 7-iron out of there through a couple of trees and out about three feet from the hole and tapped that one in for par. That was nice.

16, I hit a 3-iron just left of the green and chipped down about six feet and made that for birdie.

Then 17, I didn't want to hit a hard wedge because I was afraid I would hit the green and suck it back in the water. So I tried to just chip a 9-iron and I guess I got all of it and it went all the way to the back, about where Tiger made his putt last year, down the hill, that putt. Of course, I putted it off the green today, blasted it all the way down the hill, off the green, 15 feet back and missed that one.

Then we had the delay, right when I was walking from 18 to 1 is when it started raining and then walked back. I came right out and hit a wedge on No. 1 about six feet and made that for birdie.

No. 2, I hit a 3-wood right of the green, and hit a pretty good flop-shot about 12 feet and made that for birdie.

Then parred my way in.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: 16 of the first 60 players hit it in the water. Was it playing difficult when you were out there, or did the wind pick up a little bit on 17?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: You know, when I played, it was pretty much just straight left-to-right, so it was not -- I didn't think it was playing difficult. It's 135 today, and like I said, I kind of wanted it, might even have been helping a little if I hit a hard wedge, but I was afraid it would hit the hill and suck back in the water. The only thing for me was it was in between clubs. And after the rain, I think the wind switched into the guys so they are hitting 8-irons or maybe even chip 7-irons. It was blowing pretty hard when we came back so I knew 17 and 18 would be playing tough when we restarted. But, you know, it's just one of those holes where you've just got to step up there and hit a good shot.


Q. You're known as pretty long hitter; was that an advantage today? And are you pleased with your opening round?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: I've been driving it good. I've got a driver that I picked up in L.A. and it is a little bit longer driver than I've been using. I don't have to fight it going left-to-right so that's why I'm driving it a little bit longer.

I don't think it was an advantage, really. Everybody hits it far out here today. Tom Kite was within five yards of me on every hole and he's 55, or whatever he is. Granted, he's in a little bit better shape than I am, but the technology has helped a lot of people. Everybody gets it out there.

But to answer your last question, yeah, I'm definitely happy with my round. It's a good score on a tough day. 69 is good here on a perfectly calm day. So I've love to have three more of them, I'd tell you that.

Q. Would it be safe to say that you are the only bellybutton Claw guy going?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Yeah, I think you could safely say that. But if I keep putting my short ones like I did today, you'll probably see a few more in the near future. There's guys clawing it all over the place now. Kevin Sutherland is doing well with it.

Q. What drove you to the bellybutton?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: I wasn't yipping or anything with my regular Claw grip, but I wasn't making anything all of a sudden. Even though I was leading the Tour in putting the first three tournaments of the year, it's because I was making 5 1/2 birdies a day and hitting about ten greens, which is kind of deceptive because I wasn't hitting very good, but I was playing the par 5's okay. And every now and then I would make a 20-footer and I would hit a couple iron shots close.

So that's what was kind of deceptive; like wow, you're leading the Tour in putting and DiMarco is second; and that's what prompted Kevin Sutherland to say there must be something to this.

Then Doral was awful putting. Honda was painful. Putted really bad. I'd win that tournament if I putted anywhere decent, I guarantee you that. Last week wasn't much better. So I used three different putters last week at Bay Hill. I went through my whole roto (ph); carried three with me. So then I saw Lee Westwood Saturday afternoon and he was sitting there, missed the cut. He was just out hanging around practicing, and he asked me how I played or whatever and I said, "Awful, 76. Had about 35 putts or something."

He says, "There's a bellybutton putter in my locker."

I said, "I tried one of those and can't do that either."

Then I started thinking about it and went and snatched it the next morning and putted with it on the putting green, and just tried an open stance with a Claw. It felt pretty good, but I didn't have the nerve to use it on Sunday last week. But sure enough, I took it up to Augusta with me on Monday and made putts from everywhere.

It's unusual, the first day you try something like that, usually you're a little shaky with it. I still kind of am, especially on 20 to 20 feet and out, my direction is not bad. My but touch is a little shaky with it yet.

I think it's another revelation in my putting saga.

Q. Are you using the belly putter all the time if you're not switching at all when you're out there?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: No. It's something -- I'm full-time Belly-Claw now.

Q. Have you ever carried two putters before?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Yeah, I've carried two putters before. Usually just two different kind of 35-inch putters. The only time I carried the real long one, I didn't put another putter in. But I've carried two putters before and just took out a 6-iron or something. It was usually probably in a case where it was Sunday and I was about the second group off the tee where it didn't really matter type of thing.

Q. What was your take on Augusta National?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: I thought it was great. I played there in November; so I know what the changes look like. I liked it then. A couple of them I didn't like.

But for the most part, it's going to be really tough and it's going to be long and you know you're just going to have to hit it great and put great. Well, that's what you want for your Masters champion. You don't want somebody slinging it around there and wining the tournament because he had a good week putting. Now whoever wins that tournament is going to have to have it all.

Q. Who did you play with Monday?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Kevin Sutherland.

Q. Is he still using the Claw?


Q. Somebody said you had nine birdies?


Q. What did you shoot?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Nine birdies, two bogeys. 65. Kevin had a 69, first time ever seeing the place.

Q. How long is that bellybutton putter?


Q. 35 is the one you were talking about, how far does that go?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: 35 is pretty much a normal length putter, your stock average length putter. It's Lee Westwood's. All I know is the other bellybutton putter I tried about a month or two ago, whenever I tried it, I think it was 43 inches long and this one -- Lee and I are about the same build anyway. So I'm going to guess it's -- just call it 43 inches long.

Q. Who was your caddy today?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: My caddy this week? Bill Sander. He played out here on TOUR for 14 years. Won the U.S. Amateur in 76. So he -- I bring him out three or four weeks a year because I rotate caddies and he lives in Tallahassee. He was with me last week at Bay Hill and he is also going to caddie for me in the Masters a couple of weeks.

Q. What's the next wave of putting, Claw, belly?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: I don't know what you can come up with after that. (Laughter.) Belly-Claw is about as bad as you get, I think.

I don't know, honestly. I suppose if you could lay down and shoot it like a pool cue, guys would try that. See guys down there on the green. (Imitating billiard shot.)

Q. Is there a story on the facial hair?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Not really. Change of pace. I've had it before. I actually kind of forgot to shave the rest of it this morning; so I'm looking a little rough. But, no, haven't thought about it. It's not really bothering me so I'm going to hold onto it for a while.

Q. Can you talk a little about 17? For the fans, it's great theater, but what is it like for you guys on a Saturday or Sunday with the nerves running through, particularly if you are in contention?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Well, it's definitely a hole you're thinking about, and 18 for that matter. It's in the back of your head all day long, because you know you've got to play them sooner or later. It's like having a three o'clock appointment for a root canal; you're thinking about it all morning and you feel like shit all day. You kind of know sooner or later you've got to get to it.

You just walk around there and you look at it and you just tell yourself: Commit to a club, pick a shot, and hit it. You know, most of the time, you hit it the way you want it.

I've had decent success in the hole. Although, I made a bogey today. But a lot of different things cross your mind. Like today, I didn't want to hit a hard wedge because I was afraid it would spin in the back of the hazard. So I hit a really easy nine, but just flushed it, I guess, and hit it in a spot where I had to 2-putt.

But other times you are fairly sure you can just get it on the middle of the green. Sunday the pin is over there on the right, and if the weather is nice, there's not a whole lot of gusty wind. You just aim it for the ridge. It's a 9-iron, you know. If it was a 5-iron or something it would be a different story. You ought to be able to suck it up and concentrate hard enough, especially if you're in contention and you're playing good to begin with.

Q. Is there a more evil hole on TOUR than that?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Probably not. That's a good word for it, on account of you can make an excellent swing and make a double or worse.

So for that reason, I can't really think of a hole -- even 12 at Augusta isn't as penal as 17 here, because if the wind gets you, you can -- you know, you can get it up-and-down the back trap; or if you pull it left, you know, you can put it in the cross there. There's more ways to make pars there.

Maybe 16 at Cypress Point when we used to play there, used to see a lot of doubs- and quads- (bogeys), but you're lacing a driver or 3-wood into that green and you run into a cold wind. So considering it's only a 9-iron or 8-iron at the most, it's pretty good.

Q. Did you have a ball fall out of a tree on you?

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: It almost did. It fell down about five feet to the right of me. I was long and right on No. 6 and oddly enough, Tom Kite just stuck it in a palm tree on No. 5.

So I'm over there and I take three or four practice swings and I'm getting ready to hit it and all of a sudden it bounces and there's a thud. And for a second I thought somebody was -- why would they hit into us from like -- what's Davis doing, hitting into me? I looked up and I realized it fell out of the tree. That was pretty weird. All of a sudden it just fell out of the tree while I was standing there. It would have been funny if it would have hit me, though, knocked me right in the head.

Yeah, that was a little different. I had never had that happen before.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: All right. Thank you very much.

End of FastScripts....

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