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July 14, 2007

Rick Rhoden

Mark Rypien


PHIL WEIDINGER: Mark, since you're the first one in the media room, tell us about your round today, the ups and downs and what we're looking for tomorrow.
MARK RYPIEN: Well, it was going to be a boat race there after nine holes and my boat wasn't going very fast, and Rick's was cruising along pretty good.
Played pretty good. Made a bad swing at the par-3 7. And I wish the ball was buried; one of those ones you wish it was buried because when it came out of its lie, it was like sitting on a tee in the bunkers, not a very easy shot. So I bellied it over the green and didn't make a good chip and made double there, so minus two points.
Made a great save, bad shot at 9, and probably the best save of the round that got me going a little bit, hit a 7-iron from about 195 yards to about eight feet and made the eight footer on 9 for par. That put me in double digits, ten points for the front side.
And Rick was ten ahead of me, like I said, he hit 20 points the front nine and was playing spectacularly, if two or three other putts that had gone in -- the one thing here, you know you're not going to make a lot of putts. So you have to be very good with rolling the ball and getting yourself pars when you have to; and when you do have a birdie putt, flopping a few in.
I've had ten birdies in two days. And I think that's more than I've had in three years. So it was good to make some birdies. And I had to. Rick was going to run away with this thing and he was gracious enough to par everything coming home where he had five or six in the jar, you know, but again, that's the greens of Tahoe and something you have to deal with. But it's nice to be around the leaderboard again.

Q. Mark, the quality of golf today versus when you won it?
MARK RYPIEN: I think Rick wasn't there, there's 10, 12 guys who could break par, play par golf. And now you have 20, 25 guys that can play and really can compete and looks like, you know, a pretty good tournament.
You know, we also have the entertainment side of it, which is just as nostalgic as much as the golf part of it. That's the uniqueness of this golf tournament.
But, you know, obviously 5-over, Rick and I the first two years was the winning score to, if you don't shoot 7-, 8-under in three rounds, you're not even going to be around.
So that just tells you right there, guys are working on their game and, you know, Father Time is not in our favor. Here's a guy that's a testimony to Father Time. He still hits the ball by me and he's 50, what, 54 years old and so that's a ten-year difference. Just tells you the amount of work that Rick puts into the game and it's fun to watch him play golf, because tee-to-green, he's as good as anyone I've seen.

Q. Rick, do you want to describe your round today?
RICK RHODEN: Well, I played great the first eight holes yesterday. But I was just happy to be hitting irons on the club face the last nine holes yesterday. I couldn't make good contact. So really, I just put one swing thought in my mind this morning and that was it and it seemed to work. Hopefully it will work tomorrow.
But I played great on the front. You know, I hit one ball in about six inches on two and then I made a nice putt on 3. Hit a shot in, I hit a 6-iron second shot --
MARK RYPIEN: Almost two.
RICK RHODEN: About two feet on four for an eagle.
After that, you know, I just kind of cruised around. I made a really nice putt on 8. Mark hit a putt and kind of came in on 9; and I made a long putt. And like he said, you don't know what's going to happen on some of these greens, and it went in. And after that, I made about two or three nice putts from like five feet for pars. But I'm putting well. Doesn't seem like I'm making a lot, but I'm putting good. I haven't 3-putted yet.
MARK RYPIEN: (Knocking on wood).
RICK RHODEN: I've putted well. I just haven't knocked the balls close to the hole. Back nine, I had probably five pitching wedges and hit probably every one just like I wanted to and didn't have a good birdie putt on any of them. Even on 18 I thought I hit the ball perfect but had a 20-foot putt again.
I am encouraged, hitting the ball solid. I think if I can hit it like that tomorrow, I have a good chance. Every day is different in golf. That's what makes the game so good. I'm driving it good. I haven't made a birdie on the back nine yet. So hopefully tomorrow there will be a few out there for me.

Q. Do you know how far out you were on that 6-iron?
RICK RHODEN: I had something like 185.

Q. Rick, every year you've got a bunch of football guys ganging up on you because the timing is right, you've even got active guys playing and some of them are pretty darned good. A couple of us had an idea of extending the All-Star Break to a whole week so some current baseball players can play. What do you think of that?
RICK RHODEN: You know, they are going to get their day out here.
MARK RYPIEN: Just tell them to hang up the spikes. Those guys are holding on.
RICK RHODEN: It won't be long before John Smoltz and Greg Maddux come out here and play. I've never played with Greg Maddux, but I know John is a pretty good player. He hits it a long ways at sea level; no telling how far he'll hit it out here. There are probably quite a few good baseball players that can't get out here to play yet, but it's always been like that.
But, you know, like Mark said, the play has gotten better. You know, every year it's better. There's always one or two new guys that show up that are good players that we really don't know if they can play or not until they get here and they usually are good players.
You know what I like about it so much, I love playing with Mark. We've been out here for 15 years; he plays fast; I like to play fast. We're ready to go and it's fun to play with him.
I don't root against anybody. I root for everybody. Hope they play well. If I play well, I've got a good chance and if I don't, then I hope someone like Mark wins the tournament.
MARK RYPIEN: I will add, in the six rounds he's played, he's 27 under, so that might help.
RICK RHODEN: I got a chance to play with Joe Sakic today, never met him before. What a nice guy he was. Did he play here last year? I wasn't here last year, might have played last year.
RICK RHODEN: He's a great addition to the field and a really nice gentleman.

Q. What is it about the back nine versus the front nine? Is the front nine set up better for you?
RICK RHODEN: No. I bet if we went back over the year, I have probably played just as well or better on back. I don't know why. You have to hit the fairway on 16 and 18. If you do, you get a chance for an eagle and I didn't hit the fairway and you lay up and now -- the greens, like Mark said are hard to putt. There's different -- there's like four greens that are pretty new that are faster than the other greens.
MARK RYPIEN: Hard and fast.
RICK RHODEN: They are hard and fast; so you hit it and your ball rolls. Some of them you hit it and your ball stops. Putting, the ones that are probably been here the longest, the old banana greens are kind of spongy and your ball hops around and easy to leave the putts short on those, especially after you play one or two of the other ones in a row, then you come back to the poa annua ones and seem like you leave them short every time if you're outside ten feet.

Q. Did you have a number in your mind like after nine holes, because the best round you've ever shot out here is 65?
RICK RHODEN, yeah you know, today would have been a good day. I hit one lousy shot. I actually shanked a ball on 16 trying to hit a layup. Didn't cost me anything thank goodness. But every other ball I hit really solid all day. Probably the best ball-striking day I've had in a movement I've really been struggling with my irons.
It was a good day. Would have been a good day. If I drive the ball good on 16 and 18 you think you can make birdie and I had wedge in my hand four or five other times. So, you know, from where I was, I should have shot better on the back, but you know I hit shots like I was trying to hit them. They just didn't get close to the hole.

Q. During the Senior Open, Johnny Miller made a reference to you tuning up for this. He said, "He's won that thing like 20 times." Is this something you're proud of? You've done a lot in your life. Is that something you're proud of or is this more of just a fun thing?
RICK RHODEN: I think you're proud of anything you do if you do it halfway decent. You know, there's 70-some guys here, we all kind of started about the same. I don't think there's ever been anybody that had played very much competitive golf until he got out here. You know, we all had the same opportunity and we've all enjoyed coming here and playing.
You know, I take pride in playing well, whether it's here or with my buddies at home. You're always trying to get better. I feel a lot better leaving here today than did I yesterday that's for sure. Maybe not just the score but just because today I felt like I could make contact and I hit the ball well. You know, sometimes your score doesn't indicate how well you play, and today, it's probably about as bad as I could have scored, I mean, the way it went, after the first four holes or five holes.
But I'm really pleased. I hope I can hit it that solid tomorrow.

Q. Can you talk about Whistling Straits? Does that course prepare you to play well here when you're playing such a tough course and hen you come out to one that's not --
RICK RHODEN: I think the only thing Whistling Straits can do is make your game go backwards. You don't get a whole lot of positive things out of Whistling Straits. It's a very hard course. I mean, that's the hardest course I've ever played by far. We played Kiawah, we played Oakmont, it's not even close. I played -- it's kind of like Kiawah Island Ocean Course, but harder off the tee and greens are three times as more undulating as Kiawah.

Q. Does it make it easier?
RICK RHODEN: I think visually you show up here and it looks ten times easier after playing there. But that doesn't mean you're going to play better but it looks easier, that's for sure.

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