home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


January 1, 2008

Mark Calcavecchia


DOUG MILNE: Just a couple comments, obviously we know what happened last week, but just what's been going on in the off-season, how you feeling, how you playing as you start the 2008 Mercedes Benz Championship.
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Actually feeling pretty good. It was a fast off-season, as usual. Took all of November off, that was pretty much my break. And then played the Merrill Lynch shootout with Woody Austin, which we were fortunate to win, so that was fun. Tiger's tournament, I played pretty well there. The greens are tough to read there and I didn't make many putts, but played well.
Then we had to get ready for Christmas and just two weeks off. The Merrill Lynch shootout was pretty much the start of my year with just a two-week break. And now I'm playing the first five in a row to start the season, so I'm kind of in season form, I hope. I'm not rusty, although I didn't -- I only played a couple days, Friday and Saturday, last week. But I played great and just went out and hit it. Everything feels pretty good.
The greens here are tough. Every time I come back here, I forget how slopey these greens are, and if you forget what you're doing for a second, you can hit a putt 20 feet by in a heartbeat, which I did out there a couple times already on the back nine today. But happy to be here. The sun is out, so that's nice.
You know, the course is in great shape. It's wet, so we don't need any more rain. Great place to start the season.

Q. Does that make it harder because it's wet, because then maybe some of the roll you think --
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Yeah, actually it plays quite a bit longer. The ball is not really rolling anywhere, so it's playing pretty long. And the greens are still -- the greens are the same. The greens are dry. They're actually pretty fast. They really don't need to be any faster than they are now. Like I said, the downhill, down grain, downwind putts, you've just got to breathe on them and they'll get there.
That's what makes this course tough, is the wind, number one, and then the slope of the greens. If you hit it on the wrong side of the hole, you can start racking up some three-putts pretty quick out here.

Q. Is this the easiest tournament of the year to win?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Wow, never thought of it that way. You know, I guess if you look at it that way. There's 31 guys here this year and there's 30 at the TOUR Championship, but Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson aren't here, so that increases your chances of winning greatly (laughter). I might have to agree with you on that. I never thought of it that way.

Q. I wasn't thinking of Tiger and Phil as much as half the guys here haven't played.
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Kind of rusty. Woody Austin came out of the snow in Wichita at the Shark Shootout and didn't miss a shot pretty much for five days, and he's been snow and iced in. I know he hasn't made any swings. Quite a few other guys probably took a good bit of time off. All these guys -- it doesn't take us long, really, a couple days. If I didn't make a golf swing for two months, I would think I could be ready to go in two days to play a golf tournament.

Q. Don't you think between maybe some rustiness or a little bit of time off and the fact that it is a pretty unique course, I mean, you're not going to play this kind of course --
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: It is unique, and some of the guys that haven't been here, they're probably at a slight disadvantage because there's so much elevation change and putts that I remember over the years that are tough putts. Some of the first-timers here might have a little trouble with them. You figure if there's 31 guys here, at least six or seven of them are just going to flat-out not play very good, so now you're down to -- if you play well, you're down to 20, 22 players you've got to try to beat. It does help that Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott and Padraig aren't here, four world-class players, Top 10 players in the world, aren't here. So that increases everybody's chances to win.

Q. Did you text Tiger at all this week?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: I did. I texted him the other day when I was hiking up the mountain in Phoenix. I said, "Hiking a mountain. May die." He texted me back and said, "You must be on the Plantation Course." I texted him something else pretty funny, too, that I don't remember. But I remember that one. I got to the top of South Mountain and really thought I was going to have a heart attack.

Q. What were you doing?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Just climbing the mountain trying to get my legs -- I hiked it three times last week just to brace up here a little bit. Sherwood is hilly, and I could kind of feel -- that was a good kind of a workout time to get in better shape, just walking that course. And then rode the bike a few times at home, and then last week did the mountain three times to just climb to get my legs stronger and get in a little bit of cardiovascular shape, and actually ran a little bit in between just to try to get my legs in better shape. The reason being, two years ago here with no preparation whatsoever, by the time I got to the Hope, my knees and legs were killing me. Honolulu, and then when I was at the Hope I actually had an MRI on my right knee. I thought it was gone. My knees just hurt. Walking this course took a toll on me, so I wanted to be a little bit better prepared just to walk around here.

Q. Does this mountain have a name?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Just South Mountain. It's that mountain just south of the airport in Phoenix with those radio antennas on top of it. It's just called South Mountain.

Q. How long a climb?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: It takes about 45 minutes to get to the top.

Q. And what's the height of it?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Couldn't tell you. It doesn't look very high, but when you're climbing this way it adds up.

Q. What did you do when you got to the top?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Well, there was a bench up there. I sat down and I looked at downtown Phoenix and I looked over there at the Firebird racetrack. You can see everywhere from up there. I took three minutes and had two bottles of water on me, and my right hamstring kind of tightened up, and I stretched my back and my hammy, and I thought, all right, now I've got to get down. That's actually harder because if you slip on your ass, you go down and start sliding. I've slipped a few times and you can kind of hurt yourself if you're not careful.

Q. I guess Funk would clip you by a couple years here, but at 47 how significant is it to be here?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: It's a good achievement. You know, winning a tournament on the PGA TOUR is a very hard thing to do for most mortals, and being an older guy, Freddie is 50, and winning in Mexico last year, I played with him the first two rounds there and he played great, perfect course for him. So I wasn't surprised that he pulled out a win there. But for a guy like me or any guy nearing 50, it's good to win and nice to know we can still do it. I've been looking forward to this really since last year after I won.

Q. A year ago you had to play hard at Tampa in the fall just to finish in the Top 125. Would you have thought then that you would have been here going into last season?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: No. I mean, I knew '06, it was such a -- I played terrible and I felt terrible. I just knew '07 had to be better. It couldn't have gotten any worse for me in terms of the way I played and the way I felt. And then when I sit there on my butt at home on the couch, I do ask myself how could I play that bad all year. That's not going to happen again. I'm not going to have another year like that. I'm going to have a good 2007. I'm bracing myself up mentally to have a good year. I got off to a good start and really had a good year all year.

Q. You were talking at Target, and I had no idea you finished second so many times, I think it's 26 or so. Would you consider your career in your own eyes, that you've overachieved or underachieved?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: I've definitely underachieved just because I haven't won as many times as I should have. I'm not going to fret about 13, but when you finish second 26 times, who knows how many times. For a while there I was a Top-10 machine. If I wasn't on the leaderboard I was kind of surprised, kind of the way Tiger Woods feels now or some of the other guys.
I'll be the first to admit I didn't practice as hard as I should have, I didn't work out as much as I should have, and I didn't win as much as I should have, so to me that's under achieving. I was just blessed with a lot of talent. I have a boat load of talent, and I probably didn't maximize that talent, in my opinion.

Q. What do you think of your career? You have 13 wins and a major.
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: I'm happy with it. It certainly could be a lot worse. I'm very thankful to be able to do this. Would I be any happier if I had won 22 or 23 times and another major? I'd probably have a little more money in the bank, but I wouldn't be any different. Then I would say, yeah, I had a great career, I pretty much got everything out of it I could. Maybe if I would have practiced a little bit harder or been in better shape I would have won more. But you can't go back and -- as I look at myself now, it's like losing weight, I'll lose weight in December -- no, I'll lose weight next March, or I'm not going to drink for a month. No, I can't do that, the Rush concert is next week (laughter). It's like that my whole life. I'm going to work out every day, whatever. No, can't do that. There's always something that comes up to screw that up. That's kind of the way that is through your whole career. Okay, I'm going to practice my ass off in 2008. I can't leave the course fast enough, and it's the first day of the year (laughter). I played nine holes in a cart and I've had enough. I'm ready to go home. So much for that theory (laughter).

Q. Do you look at the 26 runner-ups, any one that still leaves you shaking your head?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Well, yeah, The Masters in '88. I was just a kid then. I figured I would have picked off a few Masters by now. Sandy Lisle made that -- on 16th on the back of the green he hit it out there sideways and made that one, and then to birdie 18 from under the lip of that fairway bunker, you know, he didn't have to do that (laughter). That could have won me a Masters and I could have slumped around in my green jacket for the last 20 years. That would have been nice.
Hartford one year when I let Wayne Levi win. I finished double bogey, bogey with a two-shot lead. There are a bunch of them.
Doral, I bogeyed 18 one year to get in a four-way playoff, so did Azinger, when Norman won when he chipped in for eagle with Tim Simpson in that playoff.
There's a bunch of them. Also a lot of those seconds, I shot 65 the last day to finish second or something. I made a great rally to come from 15th or 20th to second.
There's different ways to look at it, but there's definitely 10 or 12 that I probably let go that I didn't have to. But that's golf. I mean, everybody does it.
Nicklaus, as great as he was, had 20-some seconds in majors or whatever it was.

Q. 19.
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: 19, and another 20-some odd thirds. He could have won 30 majors or 35. That's golf. You know, you can't get the job done every single time.

Q. And then Goydos was talking about a kid coming along in '96 who wins 60 times, so that just makes it all the harder to win out here.
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Yeah. Really what he's done, what Tiger has done, I don't think anybody can fully understand. You guys are out here and you know how hard it is to win and how hard golf is. But to be that great every time you play, even when he's not playing well, and he was swinging horrible for a year or two and he was winning five or six times a year, hitting it all over the place. Some of the things that people say, well, Tiger is more beatable than ever. Well, yeah, the guy is hitting five fairways a day and shooting 66 or 67. What he does, no one will ever know how amazing that actually is.

Q. At what point do you see a scenario where he's no longer the man out here, getting older and then all of a sudden a young stud comes in?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Well, he only plays 16 tournaments a year, or 17, and there's got to be a point where that's going to be too many, where he's just going to say, okay, I'm done. I don't know what he does for the other 35 weeks a year. It's not like he can wander off and act like a normal human being and just go bowling or go do things that all of us take for granted, or go to movies. I don't know what he does when he sits at home for six, eight, ten weeks in a row.
Now he's got a kid. That will take up a little bit of his time. But he's got to do something with his time. Eventually, probably sometime in his early 40s, he's just going to probably say, that's about it for me. He'll still be great, obviously, and he may still play some. But I think once he gets to a certain point he might just lose interest, I'm not sure.

Q. Who out here is best equipped to make a run at him, the best run?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: It's hard to say, you know, who the next great No. 2 player in the world. You know, Phil is --

Q. (Laughter).
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: That's the way it's going to be. Second best player in the world, what's Phil, 37, 38? Phil will be around for a little while longer, but one of these young guys, Adam Scott or Villegas or somebody, I don't know about him. He's a great young player, but I don't think he's No. 2 in the world great yet. He could be, who knows. But I'm sure there's some phenom loitering around out there that's going to do something.
I remember the only year I played at Sun City, the guy says, "You see that big kid over there?" I said, "Yeah." He was 16 at the time. He said, "He's going to be the next best player in the world, the next world beater." It was Ernie. I'm like, "Yeah, right." I'm sure there's some 16, 17 or 18-year-old right now that's going to be the next one we know about, the next great player.

Q. Taking yourself out of the equation, not that we thought you were a surprise winner, but who had the biggest surprise win last year or who was most surprising?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: I don't think too many people thought Paul Goydos was going to win after barely keeping his card the year before. I'd have to look at it. I can't remember who won the football game last night or who played, let alone who won tournaments last year.
That's the thing about it out here; anybody can win any given week. That's why it's so tough to win. Not to mention when you have all the world's best players playing in the majors and the World Golf Championships, that list shrinks. But certainly this week any one of these 31 guys -- we won last year, we can certainly win here. It's wide open this week, and it's just really -- whether it's George McNeil or whoever, any given week. Guys out here on the PGA TOUR are good enough to pull off a week.

Q. You had a guy last year laying up on all the par 5s win there. Not that Zach Johnson is a surprise winner anywhere, but is it surprising, that method to win at that place?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Yes and no. A couple par 5s were reachable for a lot of guys anyway, like 8 with that new tee back there. 13, on the side of that hill and you've got to hit a snap hook, for a guy that's not long -- Zach is long enough, but he's a good wedge player. He figures if you give him 15 sand wedge shots or pitching wedge shots or anybody 16 wedge shots from say 70 to 120 yards, you're hoping you can make eight to ten birdies out of the deal, and I think that's what he did. Didn't he play the par 5s like 10-under, something like that? Yeah, that's not a bad strategy.
You know, really it was the key to him winning that tournament, and obviously it's always a putting deal there, too. But he didn't hit it in Ray's Creek and kept the ball dry and hit good wedges and putted good. Yeah, you wouldn't put Zach right at the top of your list to win that tournament, especially as tough as it was. It was brutal. It was cold and windy and played really hard.

Q. Your win last year, that was pretty much a product of putting, wasn't it?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Entirely, yeah. Although I was hitting the ball well. The first day I hit the first 16 greens in a row and was even and then finished triple, bogey, 36 putts or something, and that's when I had the bags packed. But I was hitting it well. I knew I was hitting it good. I hit it good the week before at the Honda and shot 78-71 or something, 9 over, and had about 35 or 36 putts every day. All of a sudden I switched putters, kept hitting it good. I did hit it good all week. I hit a lot of fairways and a lot of greens, but then I just made everything I looked at all day.

Q. Where is that putter?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Unbelievably it's in my golf bag. I found it. I was packing my clubs up Saturday. I'm still putting with the belly putter, but I just kind of looked around and I've got like three or four of them, and I knew which one it was. It was in the bag over there by the water heater, and I said, oh, yeah, this is that putter, just in case my belly putter doesn't survive for some reason you've got to bring an extra putter. You hate to break a putter because then you have to go to a golf shop or something and buy one. It's always good to bring an extra putter. That's all I brought. I brought 15 clubs with my, my starter 14 and then the putter from the PODS.

Q. What was the putter count last year?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Different ones or breaks?

Q. Both categories.
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Well, I may have set the TOUR record. First tournament of the year I broke two clubs over here in Honolulu. That's hard to do. Usually everybody's attitude is pretty good the first week of the year. I had this rescue thingy I put in there and I couldn't break it fast enough on No. 9.

Q. Did you actually break it on the course?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: I knew I needed an eagle -- I putted horrible all week and I knew I needed to eagle 18, and I hit it about ten feet, missed the hole by a foot. On the walk back to the hotel there, it's in a hedge over there somewhere. It took about five hard throws. It was durable, but the head went flying off and it ended up in this bushy hedge. I guarantee it's still over there. I probably went through at least ten, ten different putters of various lengths and looks.
It seems to me I've settled on the belly job for a while. I started that up on Saturday in Akron and then had a good tournament somewhere with it. What's after the PGA? Oh, the week off, then Westchester, putted great at Westchester. I had two-putters there. I had the short one for long putts and the long one for everything else. Then I putted great at the TOUR Championship. I'm still kind of doing the belly thing.

Q. Are you a big goal setter at the start of the year?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: No. Like I was saying, I can't sit there and say -- I'm going to work out every day, I'm going to practice harder, and then I get out here, and I can't leave the course fast enough. You know, it's a Ryder Cup year. I'm going to play a lot early like I always do through March -- through The Masters, I guess, Masters, Hilton Head, and then I'll kind of start skipping the Texas tournaments and taking some time off and hopping around in between the U.S. Open and around there.
I always want to get off to a good start. It just kind of takes a lot of heat off the rest of the year. Certainly winning the PODS took -- you've always got pressure, you want to play well every week, but getting a win early, you're up there on the Money List. You don't have to go all the way down here to find your name, and you're up here, you're up here, FedEx, you're up here, whatever. It's kind of like the FedExCup. Everybody asked me what I thought of it, and I said, well, I loved it because I was on the inside looking out. I was always in the Top 30 because of the good start. If I had been 141 or 71 or something I probably would have told you different. It's just good play fixes everything.

Q. Money counts for the Ryder Cup this year as opposed to the points system they had in the past. Do you like the new system?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: It does? I didn't even know.

Q. It's money, and it's no longer finishing in the Top 10. Do you think that's a lot better method because you can get credit for finishing 12th?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Yeah, you start racking up top 13s and you get no points. It probably is. It's probably a better barometer of how the Top 10 best players of the year are, American players, based on where you are on the Money List or the FedExCup list or whatever it is. Money List, I think that's probably a good idea. That's what Europe has always done, right? They just had the one year, Top 10 on the Order of Merit, whatever they call it, and there you have it.

Q. This is the second year for the FedExCup, but last year, was money still the thing you looked at more than points because they figured the points were probably going to be there?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Yeah, I think so. Well, toward the end of the year you wanted to know where your FedEx number was because of the tournaments, and I wanted to be in the Top 30. But you always want to be in the Top 30. If you looked at the Money List and the FedExCup list, they were pretty similar. You know, the guys who won -- my FedExCup list was higher than my Money List because I got 4,500 points. But the guys who consistently finish -- have a lot of top 20s or 30s, it seemed like it was pretty similar. But I think everybody still kind of looks at the Money List as a basis of where you're at, how you're doing for the year.

Q. Have you read all chapter and verse on the new drug policy?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: I looked at what's legal and what isn't legal.

Q. The whole list?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Yeah, most of it. From what I saw anyway, the little booklet, I had to make a switch in my blood pressure -- I have high blood pressure and high cholesterol, although it's better now. I had to switch from Toprol I think, my Toprol, to this blood pressure pill called Micardis, and then the Lipitor for cholesterol, that's fine. So that's it. And then of course Aleve and Advil. But according to what my doctor just told me, everything was fine, but I need to back off on the ibuprofen and things like that. Don't take them tournament days, don't take them for the hell of it. When you're standing out here on the putting green and your back hurts, you don't need to start taking painkillers.
So just common sense, back off on the alcohol and painkillers and stuff like that and you'll be fine. But everything was fine. I'm not worried about -- certainly nobody is going to accuse me of doping up. I'm the fat test, weakest player out here. I can bench press about 40 points (laughter).

Q. What would be a high blood pressure medication that would be considered performance enhancing?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: I don't think there is one. Oh, blood pressure? I think that the Toprol or whatever it was, I think there's some sort of beta blocker in it, a real small dose. It was on the -- there was two oprols, a med Toprol and some other of those long words you can't figure out.
Oddly enough, last year I was actually a blood pressure spokesman for this drug called Micardis or Telmisartan is a fancy name for it, and it's a real good medication. It's just a tiny little pill I take every morning, and my blood pressure is down to like 130/85 or something like that. It was about 150/100, so it's come down, and the cholesterol is pretty good, too. I should be okay. I should make it to the Senior Tour. That's my goal. I just want to get to 50 and take it year by year at that point.

Q. If you were to win next year or the year after, in other words, as you approached 50 and had dual membership, if you will, what do you think you would do, depending on how you felt?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Well, I'd have dual membership because even if I don't win between now and 50, I've got -- assuming my year before 50 that I'm still in the Top 125, I could do that, or I've got the top 50 and the Top 125 career Money List, so I've got a couple years doing that. I'm pretty sure right now that I will play mostly on the Champions Tour. I love playing Phoenix and I love playing at home, my home tournaments. Memorial maybe, British Open, as long as I can tolerate going over there into my late 50s or 60s. I'm good until I'm 65 there. Will I be playing the British Open when I'm 62? Who knows. Maybe.

Q. They just changed it to 60, I think.
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Whatever. I'm not too worried about it anyway. Exactly.

Q. What do you make of what Fred does, maybe bouncing between the two? He's looking at maybe 15, 16 senior --
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: It was good for Tom Kite when he decided he was going to play -- when he cashed in his whatever and wanted to play the regular TOUR. I've seen enough of these kids. I think I'll have a hell of a lot more fun out there. Winning never gets old, the old saying, and being in contention is fun, whether you're playing against Allen Doyle or Camilo Villegas. If you're duking it out for a win, a win is a win and it's fun. There's pressure there, tension there, and winning is fun at any level. No matter what I play, I like to win. I'm competitive whether I'm bowling with my buddies or shooting a game of horse or playing pool or whatever. We all like to win.
I think my chances will be greatly increased once I turn 50, week in and week out of winning, assuming that my game doesn't go haywire between now and then, which it hasn't yet, so I'm not anticipating it will in the next two years.

Q. Have you ever bowled with Woody?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: No. I've played blackjack with him. That's a treat.

Q. In what way?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: He is without a doubt the unluckiest blackjack player in history. Just ask him. Nobody gets screwed more than him (laughter). Every time he doubles down he gets a two (laughter). Dealers are always flipping off five, six-card 21s on him (laughter).

Q. He probably takes it well, though, right?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: He turns as red as this flower here. He gets all pissed off. It's kind of funny to watch.

Q. Did you stay up until midnight?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Phoenix time. I think I was done for at 9:30, quarter to 10:00. I'm not a New Year's guy. According to my wife, there's only one New Year's, and that's east coast time, and that's all that matters, so technically it was 7:00 last night. She's not feeling great. Her back and neck are really out of whack. I've never seen her this messed up. We've got to get her fixed. Low key.

End of FastScripts
About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297