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March 10, 1999
CORAL SPRINGS, FLORIDA
JAMES CRAMER: We have defending champion, Mark Calcavecchia with us. Mark, why don't we start off maybe you can talk about what it's like to come back and defend the tournament and then we will be open for questions.
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: All right. Well, I have been looking forward to it for most of the year. Actually I have been looking forward to getting to Florida, period. California wasn't great. Although I'm not playing bad, I just haven't gotten anything going. I haven't really been that consistent this year which is really unusual for me, but when you come back to a place you've won, you get kind of good vibes. As soon as I got on the putting green I felt better already. I know the greens are great here. The greens are excellent, fast and firm, which is good, so I remember I putted real well here and I played great, so it's kind of a confidence thing, which is good for me because that's about the only thing I'm really short on. I'm not playing bad, by any stretch, but I haven't gotten anything going where I can steamroll some confidence together, so hopefully -- just driving in the gate here feels good to me, so we'll see what happens.
Q. How do people treat you here now that you won last year, is it a little different when they see you?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: No, not really. I mean everybody -- you know, I have had quite a few do it against and back-to-back, and that sort of thing. I'm like okay, thanks, give it a shot. But as far as anybody else goes, couple of guys asked me yesterday what I normally hit off the 10th tee, like I'm an expert, just because I won here, I'm like driver, if it's straight downwinds you can hit a 3-wood, but I usually hit a driver here, so just because I won here people think I know the course better than I do but that's not really the case, I just happened to have four good days here.
Q. You played Eagle Trace hundreds and hundreds, how many times have you played this course?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Just -- I played it once before the tournament the first year, in the Pro-Am in four rounds and last year the Pro-Am in four rounds, so I guess that adds up to about 11. So probably as few as anybody else. Great thing about this course is as I tell everybody it's so straightforward, it's right in front of you. It's not like you have to go around it, you know, 10 or 15 times to feel like you know the different nuances of the course. It's pretty much cut and dry. It's right in front of you. Like I said last year and the year before, it's not Pebble Beach by any stretch, but great thing about it is you get what you deserve, you feel like if you play good, make some putts, you are going to shoot a good score. If you don't, you won't. There's plenty of rough out here and long holes, some real long par 3s and some par 4s, you gotta be hitting some good drives and long irons, otherwise you are going to make bogeys, so that's good.
Q. You talked about building your confidence, but you say you're playing good, but you don't have the confidence, what turns the corner for you; is it a low round, is it good shots, is it -- is there anything in particular?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: It doesn't take much with me. Phil Mickelson said pretty much the same thing on the west coast, felt he was playing good, but he wasn't scoring well. Well, I'd rather be playing bad and scoring well. Nothing matters out here but the number you put on the board. So if I look at it that way, you know, I gotta be kind of not happy but on the other hand in the back of my head I know I'm hitting my irons pretty well and drivers pretty well. Even last week at Doral I felt like I hit a lot of good shots, but didn't get anything out of it and didn't putt well. But, again, when I know that I'm not very far off the green, it's just a matter of time before I start making enough putts where I'm going to get some momentum, confidence going and shooting some good scores. I forgot what I was going to say. But anyway, that's kind of the way it is with me. It's not far off. I have always been a streaky player, you know, eventually with me I'm going to make two or three or four birdies in a row or five out of seven or eight, then all of a sudden, boom, that might be just what I need. I might be off and running.
Q. You've been around for a few years, you know yourself and your game, is there any key that you can go back to, to jolt yourself out of, not a rut, but just out of one level to the next?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: I'm trying, I'm trying like hell. I'm not having a very good time shooting 73s and 74s, I'll tell you that. You know, I have been around. I mean I know what to do and I know how to play good golf and it's just with me, I don't know whether to mind set, you know, obviously I haven't been very -- I have been fairly relaxed on the course, it is not like I'm a bundle of nerves wondering what's going to happen shot to shot. I'm just, you know, I'm just not making enough putts to sustain anything. If I might play two or three or four good holes, make a couple of birdies or something, then hit a bad shot or miss a green or hit it 40 feet and leave that one five feet short and miss it, I'm making a lot of bogeys in other words. I'm making enough birdies but I'm making a lot of bogeys and I think that's as a result of missing crucial pars, which you need to get going.
Q. Your patience running a little thin?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Not yet. My attitude is probably running thinner than my patience. When you're struggling, I mean I have only missed one cut all year, it is not like I'm missing cuts by three or four shots every week, struggling to me is a little different, what Chip's going through or guys that are really struggling, you know what I mean.
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: I'm pulling for Chip as hard as anybody is, but struggling for me is, you know, not having chances to win tournaments and finish 50th or 60th every week, so I'm not that far off, like I said, but golf success is pretty fleeting, as Paul Azinger would say. It kind of comes and goes. Four days from now I might be the best player in the world again for one week, you know, it happened that fast. You just gotta stay patient, you know, and if I get something going, things will turn around in a hurry for me.
Q. Mark, how much did last year's finish with you, Vijay, Montgomery, John Daly going down to the wire, does that carry to a tournament, does that help a tournament come up in reputation, weeks like that?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Yes, maybe. I can see where that would help a little bit. I think last year, Vijay and J.D. was going crazy on Sunday and Colin was playing great, so that was good for the tournament and it was great, especially for me that I played a great back and beat those guys. I think more so what that does is, you know, if I get in the same sort of situation this year or close to it, you know, I can draw on the fact that, you know, I have birdied five of the last seven or even next week or the week after, or whenever the next time I have the chance to win is. I like to think I can use some of that experience to, you know, hit good shots and try to win the tournament. Like in Vegas this year -- last year, I birdied five of the last eight and almost caught Jim Furyk in the last hole I hit it in there like this and it kind of reminded me what I did here at the Honda, so I'd like to do it more than once every six months, but I guess, you know, every once in a while it's better than not at all. I do have the ability to do that and it's nice that I have that in my memory bank.
Q. Mark, could you talk about the strength of the field this year and would you rather there be more top golfers here?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Well, you know, I guess for the tournament's sake you would rather there be more top golfers, I think the field was better here than at Doral, if I'm not mistaken, but every week basically regardless of who's there, I think the winning score is going to be the same, because, you know, somebody's going to play good every week, no matter who it is. Guys shoot on the Nike Tour, top 40 players of the world there probably wouldn't beat anyway. Somebody gets it going regardless of where you're at, it's just a status thing for the tournament to say, yeah, we've got nine of the top 10 in the world here, you know, 25 of the top 30 from last year's money list or something like that. It really doesn't have an effect on who's winning the tournament because Tommy Armour or Gabriel Hjertstedt, Greg Kraft, you know, these guys aren't the top 50 in the world, but they can win any week they tee it up.
Q. Mark, this course is -- tournament has been around a lot in the last few years, looks like it finally found a home, how do you players look at it when a tournament doesn't bounce as much as this one did, how do you guys approach it?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: I think guys are glad it's finally found a home. For a while we didn't know whether we were going to play Eagle Trace or Weston or Bonaventure or Ibis, you know, we didn't know where we were going to play in this tournament. I'm glad it's here. I was a fan of Eagle Trace also. I was saying even Eagle Trace and go to Weston, I was glad to even see Weston come here, I don't think players know years down the road that it's going to be here, I think it's good, it gives a little more of a home, you know, it's like home of the Honda, or whatever you want to call it, it is going to be here next year.
Q. Mark, it's been a lot of -- heard last couple of weeks of Tiger and Fluff, and in general a player-caddie relationship, has it evolved to the point maybe that it's not so much a guy who might know a whole heck of a lot about golf, maybe in some cases 20, 30 years ago you might have had a caddie who knew a little more about reading greens, is it just a friend or somebody you feel comfortable, is that the most important thing, is to have somebody who can lift you up, keep you down?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: I think that entirely depends on the player. There are definitely certain players out here that could not have their wives or their friends caddying for them. They need to know that they have a guy over here that knows exactly what -- or thinks he does -- which way the wind is blowing. Some guys, I can almost guarantee some guys out here can't even do their own yardage, let alone add, subtract, whatnot. They just want to stand there, get yards from the caddie and get some feedback from him. I have always enjoyed having my wife caddie for me and friends. I have a friend this week, as a matter of fact. I skip around, you know, I have some of the best caddies in the world caddie for me, then I have friends caddie for me. I think I have a chance to play equally as well no matter who it is. The Fluff and Tiger case, Tiger's probably as intense as a player as there is. Granted I think everybody in the world would love to caddie for him, work for him but on the other hand, you know, maybe two-and-a-half years is enough because, you know, because he's so intense and he's so hard on himself and that sort of thing. Maybe Fluff just -- both of them, you know, they just started rubbing the wrong way. I don't know what the case was, but Tiger will do fine with Steve Williams.
Q. What type of caddie were you?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: I was -- guys always say I got a lot of caddie in me. I'm easily the best player-caddie of all time, easily. That's why I can have my wife caddie for me or my buddy caddie for me, because --
Q. You're a caddie?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: If I'm not a caddie, I'm a golfer, don't forget that. I caddied five tournaments out here and people think I did it for a living, but it was just to stay in touch. I automatically factor in a caddie's knowledge into my head and I don't know what it is.
Q. It's gotta help. Can't hurt.
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: It is a good quality to have, I think. I think there's a lot of guys out here that have a little caddie in them, so they don't have to rely always on what the man tells them.
Q. Can you revisit that, it was with Ken Green your caddie?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Yes, it was -- when THE TOUR started up and I wasn't all exempt, I was down the list, might have been in various parts of the country where I drove everywhere, couldn't afford to fly home, so I just tagged along with him and caddied for him and at the same time, you know, when the round's over I can go get my clubs because I had a money clip and hit balls, you know what I mean, so it was just something to do for a week until I got in the next tournament.
Q. What year was that, I'm sorry?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: '82, '83,'84,'85.
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: '85.
Q. Because you won '86?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Yeah. I think --
Q. Kind of stopped at the Open in '86; didn't it? That final round on Sunday that --
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: That was '85. I caddied for him -- U.S. Open in '85, I know I remember that, and then the Honda in '86. That was the last time I did it, then I won the next year. So it was probably '85, '86 where it was a couple of times a year.
Q. Do you now become the player that you are, maybe your talent level had stopped at a certain point, could you have continued being a caddie?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: That's hard to say. Probably not, you know.
Q. Not for -- or maybe just not for Ken?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Definitely not for him, what a nightmare that guy is.
Q. Why don't you get him to caddie for you?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Actually I was a great caddie, he didn't respond. We never missed a cut, though, I'll tell you that. I'm probably one of the few caddies that never missed a cut.
Q. You said you had a friend doing it for you or you said your wife this week?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: A friend, actually the same guy as last week, a friend.
Q. Is it C.J.?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: C.J., yes.
Q. What's his last name?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Vinson, V-I-N-S-O-N. He is my neighbor out in Phoenix, he is a good player, he is about a two handicapper and originally the guy that caddied for me here last year, Greg Martin, who normally caddies for Dan Forsman was ready to work for me then Dan Forsman pulled the Friday afternoon commitment. So Greg told me on Sunday that his man committed, so C.J. was already here from Phoenix, so I just talked him into staying another week.
Q. What does he do for a living?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: He works part-time for his father in the real estate business. He's kind of on the two year half-work-half-golf plan, if you know what I mean. He is only 22. He just graduated from college last August, or September, or whenever it was, or July, I don't know when the hell he graduated. He just graduated from college and his dad more or less gave him a couple of years to work on him game, turn pro, work the mini tours.
Q. Did he play in college?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: No, he didn't play for ASU. He has improved a lot. He went to ASU. I'd say two, two-and-a-half years ago he couldn't break 80 very regularly. In fact, we played a couple of weeks ago and he beat me outright 69 to 71, so he's made a lot of improvements.
Q. Where was that at?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Mason Country Club, of course that was his home course, so... He played good, though.
Q. Has Kit (phonetic) ever caddied for you?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Not since Tour school I think in 1985.
Q. How many caddies have you had, do you think?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Me?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Oh, well, I mean I had the same guy for eight years.
Q. Good guess.
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: I had the same guy for another three years. Since June of '94 I have been on the rotation plan. It's good for me because it's kind of fun to have different guys and different personalities work for you instead of the same guy. You know, sometimes you can get run-down a little bit or, you know, your caddie gets tired of you and you can get tired of him, and, you know, that's when you get a little, you know, a little bit of tension going, you start yelling at each other, throwing clubs at your caddie and stuff. When you get a different guy every week, you don't -- I don't feel that, so...
Q. Any really funny caddie/player exchanges that you remember?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Well, I'm sure there is, but I can't think of anything offhand. Actually, I just saw one last week, it was with Craig Stadler and his caddie, Jeff Golf, who also caddies for me. Stads was over on the edge of the water hazard No. 3 at Doral, he was kind of figuring out how he was going to hit it, his caddie was on the right, Golf starts walking across to get on the other side, Stads just took a whack at it and it went right directly at his caddie and he had to jump to miss getting hit. He did the old two-step quick jump, almost fell over, the ball went flying across the green again. We just started laughing, started cracking up because if his caddie wasn't paying attention, he might have hit him in the foot, ball might have gone in the water hazard, he would have gotten two for hitting the caddie, might have made like a 12 for the hole.
Q. Would have taken it well, too?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Yeah, that was -- I mean, that was pretty funny, we thought. Stuff like that doesn't happen too often.
Q. You got a favorite Pro-Am story?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: I might have a new one in the next five hours here. Every Wednesday is an adventure, let me tell you. A lot of good people. I played with Coach Levelle Edwards (phonetic) from BYU last week and he was a good player, so we had a nice chat. He was kind of getting in my head trying to figure out -- trying -- he asked me a lot of questions about what we do, practice, stay in shape, breaks and time off, how I stay sharp mentally, you know, kind of another professional asking me, it was interesting, so we kind of went back and forth. But, no, a lot of interesting people you come across on Wednesdays.
Q. Mark, with all the money out here, do you envision or do you see more of like what Tiger did and you're doing this week to have friends? I know you do it for different reasons, but to have friends on the bag because there is so much money, do you see more players doing that?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Not necessarily for the money reason, but I think more players are doing it just for a change of pace because it can be a lot more fun. If you've got your buddy, first thing you are going to want to do is play good for him. Like Tiger says he wants to play great for this kid so he can put him through medical school, that's inspiration No. 1, as opposed to -- or, you know, last week I obviously had a hard time and wasn't exactly real cheery, so I talked C.J. into caddying again and I promised him we'd have a lot more fun this week. There I have a goal right off the bat, I'm going to make sure he has a real good time, a little better time than last week and I know I'm going to play better than last week. Little things like that that help, I think, when you have a friend on the bag.
Q. Do you think some friends might be calling Tiger now, I'm kind of behind --
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Yeah, I hope so. Tiger, remember me, I used to be your buddy back in high school, how about a job?
JAMES CRAMER: Any more questions for Mark? Great. Thanks, Mark.
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