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June 14, 2005

Chris DiMarco


RAND JERRIS: It's a pleasure to welcome Chris DiMarco to the interview area. Chris has played in five previous U.S. Opens, including a Top 10 finish last year at Shinnecock Hills. Maybe you could start us off with some general comments about the course setup and how it plays into the strengths of your game.

CHRIS DiMARCO: I didn't get to play here in '99 so yesterday I got to see the course for the first time.

I guess different from '99 from what I've heard is driving accuracy is going to be really key this week. The rough is way up. Even if you have 50 or 60 yard shots from the fairway, it's going to be tough to get the ball close around the green. So driving is going to be a premium and then make is sure you hit it on the side of the hole going to be key. If you miss it on the wrong side of the hole, you could be there for a while. I think patience and staying away from the big numbers is the key this week.

RAND JERRIS: You finished as the runner up in playoffs in the last two majors. What are the positives that you carry from those experiences?

CHRIS DiMARCO: Obviously the positives are that I basically tied for the win, so I just lost in a playoff. I'm putting myself in position to win the tournaments. All I can take out of that is that when I'm coming down the stretch I'm putting myself in position to win the tournament. So I'm there, just a matter of getting one more shot.

Q. People the last time around said the setup here was about as good and fair and favorable as any other U.S. Open. Would you say that's been your experience in your whopping day and a half you've spent here so far, and which course is harder from say 100 yards in, given the green complexes, Augusta National or what you've seen here with the upside down greens?

CHRIS DiMARCO: I think this is tougher from 100 yards in. I know at Augusta, a lot of the greens actually feed toward the holes, if you can put them in the right position, where here if you're five yards off it's going to feed away from the hole. Like I said, it's going to be tough. You're going to have to be really, really precise with your irons, your distance control is going to have to be really good when you hit it in the fairway, and putting is going to be tough. If you get it above the hole out here, they are fast.

Q. It's been well chronicled you don't really have a swing teacher, but what do you do when things start going wrong to get your game back in gear again?

CHRIS DiMARCO: You know, I just trust what I'm doing, and for me it's usually my ball position. If I'm struggling with my driver I'll have my caddie look at my ball position. He knows where I like it, and it might be off a little bit. For me it's maybe moving it back a hair or moving it up a hair. I'm going to work on my game. I know I have this big misconception that I don't practice, but that's a falsehood. I do practice quite a bit, I just don't hit balls. I play a lot.

You know, I'm going to do a lot of that this week, getting up, getting prepared, and come Thursday morning when I go to the range, if I have it, I have it. If I don't, I don't. I'm not going to find it the morning before my round. I'm going to prepare myself as best I can for Thursday morning and go out and try to play a good four days and forget about the swing. There's enough obstacles out here with this golf course where if I miss the fairways I have to focus on making sure I lay up in the right areas and staying patient. This course, if you're trying to work on your swing out there, you are going to be in a lot of trouble.

Q. What was your reaction when you found out that you were paired with Tiger for the first two days? And can you also discuss your feelings in the few days after The Masters what you went through, what you experienced?

CHRIS DiMARCO: I was pretty excited. It's pretty flattering because everybody knows that the USGA doesn't pick your names out of a hat. They put the pairings together. From what I understood, they put people who can play with Tiger in situations like that, so that's pretty flattering that they know that I can do that. From that aspect, it's good. It's obviously better playing with him than it is in front of him or behind him, so it's going to be fun playing with him. He's great. I mean, who doesn't want to play with him? It's awesome.

A couple days after The Masters, it was tough. I relived that chip a lot in my head, my chip, not so much his but my chip on 18, knowing that that could have gone in and could have changed everything. I was proud of myself that I put myself in position to win.

Q. As someone who's played in the Presidents Cup and the Ryder Cup, do you think there is a place for golf at the Olympic games?

CHRIS DiMARCO: Absolutely. I don't know why we're not there. Just have a 72 hole tournament and winner wins gold. I mean, it would be great. I know that I'd be in line to go wherever it would be to play for our country, whether it's anything, Presidents Cup, Ryder Cup, Olympics, I'm there.

Q. If you weren't up there and you were back here, how would you handicap the field? Knowing the course, who would you like in this tournament?

CHRIS DiMARCO: I'll tell you what, a couple names jump to mind; Scott Verplank, Fred Funk, guys that hit the ball in the fairway. This course is long but not overly long. Someone who holds with the way the wind blows, you know, the long holes are 490 holes aren't playing like that, they're playing a little shorter than that. I can get mid irons into them. If I'm hitting 5 or 6 irons, those guys are doing the same. Driving accuracy is going to be a premium because the fairways are going to get firmer and the ball is going right to the bottom of that rough out there. I said it yesterday, if you get the ball close out of the rough, you got lucky because you can't control the spin or the bounce because you're not landing them on the green and leaving them on the green out of the rough. It's a matter how it bounces on the green. It's going to be tough out there.

Q. You talked about reliving The Masters for a few days afterwards, and you finished 2nd at the PGA and then also a few weeks later I believe your next event in New Orleans you had a tough loss there. When do you stop reliving a moment like that? How long is it before you forget about it, and does it ever enter your mind when you play in another major?

CHRIS DiMARCO: It does. I think I told my manager about three weeks ago, I said, if we get any more calls for interviews about the Masters, we're done. That's gone. It's over. I have a lot of good memories from there, then let's move on, we've got other tournaments we have to play.

I do draw from that, though. When I'm in a situation where I can be completely nervous and I can look back and say I did it there, calm down, you're fine, if you can do it there, you can do it anywhere. For us it's confidence. As long as I can get any kind of confidence out of that and draw it away, it's good. If you're not playing well, it's hard to have that confidence, so for me I played good last week, I had a nice little steady rise, 67 the last day on a good golf course with probably the toughest pins we played. I'm doing the right things, hitting the ball well, driving it well. Practice rounds are no fun for me because I don't concentrate too hard. It's fun because I get to hit it all over the map and out of the rough and out of the trees and I get to hit it everywhere.

Q. You alluded to in New Orleans, your start right off The Masters, but could you sort of elaborate on the extremely fine line? You were characterized as a competitor who gave the No. 1 player in the world down the stretch all he could handle. If you miss that one on 18 you're probably a choking dog, or if he bogeys two holes he's getting eaten alive this week because his game has gone sideways.

CHRIS DiMARCO: I didn't think about that until after I made the putt on 18. I thought, I'm glad I made that because it would have probably looked that way, there's no doubt. Again, for some reason, I don't know why, I was pretty calm over that putt. I felt like I had played too good all week to let a five foot putt keep me out of a chance to win the tournament. Sometimes when you just look at it that way, it tends to calm your nerves down. It almost ticks you off a little bit to knock it in. If I were to win that playoff he's looking at a different thing, too, now he's looking at can he win a major. There is such a fine line out here. It could be one shot it always seems to be that it's always on the 18th hole or whatever, but it could be a shot on the 3rd hole of a tournament that you're focused on. That's what Tiger does so well so he treats every hole like the 72nd hole of a tournament.

Q. Assuming you don't get a break in the weather this weekend, what kind of factor will the heat and humidity have on the play here?

CHRIS DiMARCO: It couldn't be any hotter than it was last year. You just have to stay hydrated. I think I drank a bottle of water a hole last week, and I didn't go to the bathroom once. It was sweating out of you. You just deal with it. I like it better, to tell you the truth, than cold because I'm loose. It's going to help a lot of guys that have back problems and aches and pains. The humidity is going to be good for them.

Q. Are the rest of the guys playing better now than when Tiger won the four majors in a row, 2000 2001? Would it be tougher for him to do that again, same year, four in a row, now than back then?

CHRIS DiMARCO: I think it's a combination. He was playing so good, for one. He was winning those tournaments by eight, ten, twelve shots. He was playing phenomenal. I think the players have gotten better and I think there's a little intimidation factor that's gone. I think back then he still had that intimidation factor. Everybody knows he was going to be there and people were intimidated. Once people started beating him down the stretch, that kind of faded away, and I think that usually goes a long way, that helps a lot. I think that's gone, and I think that we as a whole have gotten better. I think he's made us get better. And I think that he's not playing I don't know if he could ever play at the level he played at that year. That was amazing. Four in a row is unheard of.

Q. After the way you played at the last two majors, are your expectations and approach the same or different coming into this Open?

CHRIS DiMARCO: Same. I'm going to go out and try to play golf. It's kind of a cliche, kind of the same old statement, but just try to put myself in position on Sunday on the back nine. That's all you can do. Every hole I play is geared toward that back nine to have a chance to win.

Q. I saw you at the Wachovia kind of struggling with a neck injury. Is that all gone now?

CHRIS DiMARCO: Yeah, I think I slept on it wrong. It actually helped me. I used to crack my neck all the time and since that week I haven't had to crack it. I was always worried I was going to snap my spinal cord so I don't worry about that anymore.

Q. You talked about driving obviously being at a premium. Some people have talked about how this course is atypical from U.S. Open courses and short game creativity will matter a lot. How much will that decide the winner do you think?

CHRIS DiMARCO: You're going to have to putt well. From seven feet and in you're going to have to make a lot of putts just because it's hard to get your chips within three feet. It's just very difficult. You're going to have to make a lot of par saving putts. The person that makes the most ten footers and in is going to be right up there. If you look at the stats come Sunday afternoon, those guys on the back nine, if they take the stats from the guys that have putted from ten feet and in, I guarantee those are the guys that are up there in the lead.

RAND JERRIS: Chris, thanks very much for your time, and good luck this week.

CHRIS DiMARCO: Thanks, guys.

End of FastScripts.

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