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June 28, 2007

Rocco Mediate


DOUG MILNE: We would like to welcome Rocco Mediate to the interview room here at the Buick Open, 8-under par 64, capped off by a little punch run shot in the right rough on 18. Talk a little bit about your round.
ROCCO MEDIATE: It was just solid. I drove good. I had good irons. This has been one of the best years of my life coming out of this injury again. I'm ecstatic. I've had some nice weeks this year.

Q. What's the latest injury you're talking about?
ROCCO MEDIATE: The back crap, the same old.

Q. When was the last time you had trouble with it?
ROCCO MEDIATE: About the last four years, Augusta National last year it got really bad. It's gotten a lot better now.

Q. When was the last time you had trouble with it? Has it been pretty good most of this season?
ROCCO MEDIATE: This season it has been good. I had one little minor four-day relapse at Heritage -- or Verizon, I keep calling it Heritage. I'm showing my age. That was the only one.

Q. How much pressure does it take off your golf game to know that your back is going to hold up and that you don't have to protect it?
ROCCO MEDIATE: It used to be more than it is now. I'm working with a new therapist I met out in Los Angeles, and she has really made a difference. I have nothing -- like I say, I had one little relapse and I did an eight-hour drive in a car, which was stupid, and it made a big, big difference. I can move again. And the golf swing works fairly well when I move. I tend to move a lot, so I need to have the mobility and the motion, and I have it back now.

Q. Where does this rank as far as the best round you've had in how long?
ROCCO MEDIATE: It's been a long time. This course will do that. It's just a matter of putting the ball in the right spots here, because you can get to some of these holes, there are a lot of wedges and short clubs here, when you put those in our hands, especially with the greens being so soft, so it was a really solid day, I putted really well. I made all the putts that I should have made. I really can't say that I was angry about missing any. It was a very nice round, for what I've come out with, it was very nice, this whole year has been.

Q. Woody and Brett Quigley were in here talking about that the greens were maybe getting a little spiked off later in the day especially with the rain and the pro-am yesterday. Did you have any trouble with that at all?
ROCCO MEDIATE: No, they're fine. With poa greens and bentgrass they're going to be a little bumpy no matter whose greens they are. But these greens are excellent, they're just soft. That's just the way it is. I didn't really see any that affected me at all, I don't think so. Maybe I can blame the ones I missed on that. The greens are excellent, couldn't be better.

Q. You talked about your experience here, you've been here almost 20 years as a player.

Q. Was your knowledge of the course your success here, with you coming into this event is this an event you can target and say I think with what I'm doing now, that maybe you can do some damage on the leaderboard and be around on Sunday? What's your mindset?
ROCCO MEDIATE: I don't really go there. Every week is a nice week, a new week for me with this body. And like I said, it's been great recently, the last four or five months. I really don't think of it in terms of that. I love most of the golf courses that we play out here, and this is one of my favorite. So there's definitely a difference. I feel if I'm driving good here, I can do some damage. You have to drive good here, you just do, even on the short holes. I like to hit driver anyway, so if I can drive it good, I'm up close.

Q. As a follow-up, with your early round tomorrow, mindset different than going into today or is it just the same kind of thing building on the drive?
ROCCO MEDIATE: No, my mindset every round is to put the ball in the first fairway, that's it. I have nothing else that I can do. Because I can't do well if I par 10, I can birdie, 12, 13, I don't go there. That's when you lose. I just try to put it in the first fairway. That's what I've said for 22 years.
That's how I started today. You just want to drive it in the fairway and go. It's going to take 20-something under par to win this thing. I'm not even close yet. That's the beauty of this golf course, the greens are so soft. In fact, they were soft on Tuesday.

Q. In other sports guys see the same specialist for knees and ankles and all that. Is there anything in golf, like a bad-back club, you and Freddy, guys who have similar problems, do you compare notes? Do you compare rehab programs and treatment and all that?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Not that many people have come to me about it, which surprises me because I've been through it since 1994. There's really no club for that. You just have to find the right person. I happened to fine one this year and that's why I've been able to play. I'm 44, but I certainly don't feel it.

Q. Going off in the afternoon in a tournament like this, do you pay attention to the leaderboard?
ROCCO MEDIATE: You know it's going to be 6, 7, 8 under par late in the tournament here, especially if it's soft, so you can't. Like I said, you just go play. I just react to what I'm trying to do and I can't do anything else.

Q. Just a couple of follow-up questions with your back. Lower back, herniated disc in '94 --
ROCCO MEDIATE: It's not really the back, it's mostly a very hypermobile hip joint, both of them, especially the right side. It causes a lot of problems. Once it goes, it's a nightmare.

Q. What hip gives you the problem? The right hip?

Q. And also with this therapist in L.A., would you describe it as a holistic approach, traditional? Why is it working now and what is it?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Because of some of the stuff she found no one ever found before. That's the thing.

Q. Like what?
ROCCO MEDIATE: A couple of muscles in the low back that were just locked down and they pull. And once they lock down they won't move for weeks. When this injury happened before I couldn't move, and I told this story many times. It just was horrible, now that's all unlocked. With a few more core exercises and stuff like that, it's made a huge difference. I can't believe I'm playing golf this year like this, I really can't.

Q. How long does it take you in the morning to get going?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Nothing. I've always been able to get loose fast, but being hurt. I couldn't do anything. It's been an interesting six months. I'm not surprised -- I knew if I could get healthy I could still strike it out here and still compete out here with these guys, I just had to get back to where I could walk again.

Q. Did you have any clue in practice rounds or tournaments or anything, that your game was improving?
ROCCO MEDIATE: I shot 7 under the last day at Memorial, so it was just -- I hadn't played in three weeks, so I did good the last two weeks, made a lot of birdies. I've been hitting it pretty good all year and just haven't made enough putts.
Obviously you have your days of striking bad, but I've been hitting pretty good all year, it's just a matter of putting, that's it. That's the only difference.

Q. Your back locked down or did it just hurt?
ROCCO MEDIATE: I can play if it hurts. I can't play if it locks down. I don't care about pain, that never affected me, it was the fact I couldn't move. It probably wouldn't even -- there's not much damage, my spine isn't the problem, it's the left hip joint, that's what goes psycho. There's some interesting stories about stuff like that. It's unbelievable, the pain that it can produce. It just locks down. I can't breathe hardly.
And with the motion -- my golf swing is very easy on my body, so it's not the golf swing, it's just how it is. If I keep healthy and Cindy keeps keeping me in good shape here, I should be able to play as long as I want.

Q. That last putt, you didn't seem to waste any time over it.
ROCCO MEDIATE: I don't waste any time ever anymore. I don't have time to waste time. My game has sped up so much this year and I love it because I'm just gone. I know my motion in my golf swing is there. I hit bad shots too, of course, but I know -- I aim and I fire really fast. I've gotten back in the top two or three in speed again, which I like.

Q. Even 20 feet, no problem?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Yeah, something like that. I just can't take any time. It drives me crazy. I'm already crazy, I don't need to be getting more crazy. That's the last thing I need.

Q. I think it has been a couple of years since you've had a top 10 in a tournament. At Pinehurst, I believe?
ROCCO MEDIATE: I finished 8th at Riviera year and 2nd at Bay Hill this year.

Q. How much work are you doing for Golf Channel?
ROCCO MEDIATE: I'm done. Maybe some years down the road, I loved that. That was so much fun, those three weeks, I had a blast. The Golf Channel is doing a great job for us, I think. We had a great time. I learned a lot, too. It's a hard job. It's not as easy as it looks. The first couple of days were bad.

Q. You talked about not feeling like you're 44. Are you at all disappointed in your career sort of transitioning into something away from competitive play and looking into going into broadcasting?
ROCCO MEDIATE: I don't know what I would have done if I was healthy those years. I'm sure I would have won a few more events. But if you told me I was going to do this for 22 years, I would have laughed you right out of the room. Being out here that long and having the longevity, with the exception of the injuries -- the only reason I was bad is because I couldn't play. My game didn't go away because my ability went away, it's because my body went bye-bye. If my ability would have went away, I definitely would have quit, but it didn't, that's why I kept coming back, until it won't let me anymore, and I don't think that's going to happen for a while. I have plenty more time out here, plenty more game. I can still play with these guys.

Q. You said you made all the putts you should have made. Did you make any you shouldn't have made?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Of course not. What kind of question is that? The longest putt I made was 18, about 20, 22 feet up the hill. A lot of close shots. I just missed a couple more, too, from 20 feet or 15 feet, just missed. You can always look back. I mean, I made a bunch of 8, 10-footers early, made a couple of good par saves. No one ever talks about that. Made a good six-footer for par on 15 after running it by. Good four-footer, hooker on 17. If those don't go in, I'm not 8 under.

Q. Does a healthier back allow you to go to the conventional putter?
ROCCO MEDIATE: It's 36 inches, so I'm not really bent. I'm pretty much the same height as I was with the longer putter, that's how I had it built. I just have two hands on it now. That's the only difference. It's working well so far.

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