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January 4, 2008

Mark Calcavecchia


DOUG MILNE: Mark Calcavecchia, we'd like to welcome you to the media center at the 2008 Mercedes-Benz Championship, 7-under 66 today in round 2. It's the lowest round on the entire PGA TOUR this year so far (laughter). Just a couple opening comments. I heard you out there saying you feel like you're playing better now, if not as good or better than ever before. Just a few comments on that.
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Well, my swing, even in December at the Merrill Lynch shootout with Woody Austin that we won, and Tiger's deal, I just hit it great. I made no putts in Tiger's deal and then didn't touch a club basically until I got over here. I still kept hitting it good.
The main difference today was, number one, it was a lot easier to play, not a downpour every five minutes. And it wasn't quite as windy. So scoring is quite a bit better today for everybody, number one. I made putts today. I putted great.
Yesterday I was switching back and forth between the short putter and the long putter and just kind of was all over the place, and the wind and the rain, and it was just much better today.
DOUG MILNE: Yesterday you were 14 for 18 greens in regulation. Today you hit every green in regulation. Can you attribute that to a significant decrease in wind.
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Yeah, plus I'm -- the greens are big. You're going to hit a lot of greens here. I don't know what the stats are, but as far as putting goes, this tournament by far more than any other tournament has the highest number of average putts for everybody, the most putts missed inside ten feet or whatever. I heard all kinds of funny stats. So the greens are tough and they're huge, and it's also a good week to hit a lot of fairways and greens because the greens are so big.
Today I hit every green. Yesterday I hit 14. And I really only grossly outright missed one green, and the others were just on the fringe. It's just good hitting them. Today the difference was just entirely putting, although I did have two three-putts today, but they were from a long ways away and up hills and stuff.

Q. Did you say you were switching back and forth from the long to the short yesterday?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Yes, I did. I had both putters in the bag, I carried two-putters, and then I'd use my shorter putter for the 30, 40, 50-footer, and I wasn't very good with it, either. I couldn't get it very close. Actually yesterday I needed my 5-wood twice, so I just kind of said, I'll just figure it out with the belly putter today. I put my 5-wood back in and never needed it.

Q. It figures.
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Yeah, it did figure. I might have done a better job on a couple of those I three-putted with the shorter one. The 4th hole it hit the ridge and went down to the left and I had a 40-footer up the hill -- I had a 45-footer for par (laughter). I didn't hit it near hard enough and it went all the way down to the front of the green and I had a longer next putt.

Q. It was a good three-putt then?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Yeah, actually it was. Then the next one I whacked pretty hard. The first one I put it in my belly and putted it over there, and then the next one I anchored it out of my belly and whacked it and it hit the back of the hole. It was going seven, eight feet by. It bounced up in the air and stopped a foot from the hole, so I was lucky it hit the hole, otherwise I probably would have four-jacked.

Q. Is that the putter you won with last year, the belly?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: No, the short one was. As a matter of fact, I brought it over here, I don't know why. I found it in the garage and I looked at it and I decided I'd bring it. But you'll probably never see it in action again. It got me here, though.

Q. You've resurrected your career several times. It's been 18 years since you won the British, and I remember one day you saying, gee, maybe I should have done more in my career, and yet you're still obviously playing winning golfing and pretty close to the Champions Tour. Are you surprised -- you were talking about your bowling and your good athletic skills. Do you wish you had done more? Are you pleased with your career, and are you surprised that you are in this tournament so well?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: To answer a few parts of that question, I'm not really surprised I'm here. I know even if you go a year or two or three or four, between 2001 and 2005 I hadn't won, and after two, three years goes by you kind of wonder have you won your last tournament, and then I won the Canadian and won last year, so I know it's still in there, and I know I'm going to win on the Champions Tour unless my health seriously deteriorates. I'm looking forward to that, too.

Q. In other words, do you wish you had done a little more?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: I should have won more. I wish I would have won more tournaments. Everyone wishes that except for a few of us. I wish I would have won more. I can look back on my career and say I've slightly underachieved because I didn't win as much as I think I should have, and I could have practiced harder and I could have stayed in better shape. But on the other hand, I've had an unbelievable amount of fun in my life. You know, I've got two great kids. I've got a great wife now who I just have a blast with. I have a lot of fun with what I do. You know, I really don't regret anything.

Q. Could you also, what compelled you -- I know you wanted to get in shape, to go up South Mountain? Was it all of a sudden you said one day you'd better get in shape?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Well, actually it was Tiger's tournament. Sherwood was a pretty tough course to walk, too. I was fairly well destroyed by the time I got done with that tournament after six rounds. I had to play two Pro-Ams there. After playing five days in a row and two Pro-Ams at the Shark Shootout and flying cross country with the dogs, it was grueling. I was beat up after that and everything hurt for a couple days. Then I started thinking about this course, and two years ago I remember how bad my knees hurt a couple weeks after -- well, actually they hurt in Honolulu, and I limped around there. And by the time I got to the Hope both of them hurt so bad I couldn't hardly walk. So I didn't really want that to happen again, so I thought -- I actually ran some in between, short bursts to get a little bit better cardiovascular.
But I feel good. I wasn't sore this morning. Today was easier walking than yesterday. Granted, I mean, the umbrella wasn't in front of you with a 40-mile-an-hour wind and rain, so it was easier conditions for sure, and that had something to do with it. But I just wanted to not be in such physical pain when I got done with this place.

Q. Were the greens easier today with being wet like they were?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: The greens? Well, it was just easier because it wasn't raining and it wasn't blowing as hard. You know, putting in a strong wind is tough, no matter what set of greens you're on. And then when you've got the rain pelting down on you at the same time, it's just easier all around. It wasn't near as windy. Yesterday I was in there and I was over a couple of putts and it was raining and the wind was blowing and I was getting wet. All that goes on and you kind of forget what you're trying to do in the first place.
Today I really didn't have one time where the wind blew me or I felt off-balance or like I was going to miss. I felt comfortable over everything, and that was the main difference just because the weather was that much better.

Q. Will you text Tiger or do you think he'll text you first over this round?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: He won't text me. I can guarantee you he wasn't watching it (laughter).

Q. But he'll know --
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Or he isn't watching it. Every now and then he'll text me and say, "Great round, dude," or something like that. No, I was going to text him yesterday but I was just going to say something like, "You're a genius. Nice move. How's Florida?" You know, after that weather. But I didn't, so we'll wait and see.

Q. The ability to score tends to leave guys as they move up into their 40s and so forth. What has been the key to your ability to retain that ability? It's not easy.
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: No. That's a good question. You know, I do make a lot of birdies, I always have. I'm always in the Top 10 in birdie average per round, 5th or 6th or something last year. I guess my aggressiveness has something to do with it. I don't lag too many putts and I go at a lot of pins. And when I'm swinging well, that's going to lead to a lot of birdies.
Even though I do get nervous and I do get tense and things like that, I don't always show it, but it's there. But yet I'm still kind of able to stay aggressive, and I really try to keep the hammer down. Sometimes it obviously doesn't always work, but other times I can just keep going and hit good shots and keep making birdies. You're right, it's not easy to do. It's a tough thing to do sometimes.

Q. A nine-birdie round, though, is pretty good.
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: That's always nice, yeah. I putted great. I had a lot of good-looking -- I had 15 good looks at it. Other than three long ones, all the rest were seriously makeable, and to make nine of them was great.
DOUG MILNE: If we could just real quick run through your birdies.
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: I can remember them. 1st hole, I hit an 8-iron about ten feet short of the hole, made that.
The next hole was a surprise. I made about a 35-footer from left of the hole, just trying to two-putt and it went right in the middle, perfect speed.
3rd hole, I hit a great drive and a 9-iron about ten feet and made that.
4th hole was the bogey where I had the 40-footer for birdie and the 45-footer for par, lost ground on my first putt. That's never a good thing. Ended up making bogey.
5th hole, pulled my 3-wood and hit a great little -- about a 50-yard pitch down the hill onto the green to about six feet and made that.
7, I hit a beautiful high 5-iron in there about eight feet right behind the hole, made that.
9, I hit two good shots up there, 30 yards short of the green and zipped a little L-wedge in there about five feet, made that.
Three-putted 11.
12, made about a nice 15-footer just left of the hole, right in the middle, got a good read from Fred Funk.
Parred 13 and 14.
15, hit two great shots right in front of the green, chipped up to a foot, tapped that in.
And 18, two good ones as good as I can hit it, 65 yards and a little L-wedge in there about seven feet, made that one.
DOUG MILNE: Outstanding round today. Thanks for joining us, and best of luck on the weekend.

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