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June 13, 2008

Rocco Mediate


Full Audio Interview

RAND JERRIS: It's a pleasure to welcome Rocco Mediate to the Media Center, with an even-par round of 71 this afternoon, 2-under par for the championship.

Maybe just start us out with some general comments about the day today.

ROCCO MEDIATE: Totally different course than yesterday. The marine layer, as we like to call it, like Curtis said, the fog, came in a little bit and it slowed it down just a touch. And it didn't let it firm up. So the wind laid down just a little bit, but it was a different day than yesterday. I played early, and late morning it was windy, and obviously all afternoon it was windy. But as you see, the scores aren't real low. Golf course is holding up beautifully.

RAND JERRIS: Seems not uncommon that we see you down here in the media center at the U.S. Open. What is it about this championship that brings out the best in you.

ROCCO MEDIATE: A couple of times, yeah. I just like the fact that it's a driver's -- it's -- always starts with you got to put the ball in the fairway in this golf tournament, unlike a lot of golf tournaments that we play, and you're rewarded. Then the second shot into all these greens, whatever club you have is extremely -- you have to be extremely precise. Ogilvy put it best yesterday, you got to be right on everything or it's going to eat you up.

It's like such a good examination of everything you got. Especially in your head. It's mostly a head game here. But the length for me, it's an issue. It's not an issue, but it's definitely -- I'm hitting a lot longer clubs than most of these guys, so I got to be real precise, real precise.

RAND JERRIS: Ask you, for the record, just to go through the birdies and bogeys on your card.

ROCCO MEDIATE: 2, I hit my fairway wood off the tee, and a pitching wedge to about 30 feet, something like that. Made that.

Then I birdied 4, from about the same. Hit a good 5-iron right in the middle of the green and made it up over the hill there, and missed a few coming -- I had a few other good opportunities and missed. But then what did I do?

I bogeyed 10, hooked it off the tee on 10, left of the bunkers. That wasn't a very good spot to that pin and I made a five.

12, I hooked it again left of the bunker. Almost just over the bunkers and made a five there.

Then I bogeyed 17. Hit it just in the left rough, second cut, so I was pretty much toast and didn't get up-and-down.

18, I hit Squareaway on the green this time from 240 and I took a shot and made it, thank goodness. It may make a difference for the week, you never know.

Q. How long did you have on the second at 18, please?

ROCCO MEDIATE: 240 front. 260 hole.

Q. What was the club again?

ROCCO MEDIATE: My Squareaway. It's a 3-wood, a Callaway club. So it was all I had, so thank goodness it came off. Looked like a hero for a minute.


Q. You do seem to enjoy yourself out here. Is it possible your the biggest golf fan among the players, and, like, you haven't on the years, you haven't made the cut here or you made the tournament, have you watched this tournament?

ROCCO MEDIATE: Yeah, I love this tournament. Janzen and I went to school together, and when he won his couple, I wasn't -- I was at Baltusrol and I waited after I was done for him and he called me right after Olympic. It's like I love this tournament because it's -- first of all, it's ours. It's our tournament. It's the championship of the United States. So it's pretty cool. The setup is my favorite setup. I would like to play this every -- maybe three weeks a month. Take a week off to kind of unwind.

But I love these setups because it just requires -- I don't know. It doesn't require 8 birdies a day and 25-under par to win. It requires around par which is my favorite thing.

Q. You genuinely enjoy the crowd and acknowledge them. Is it possible you feed a little bit off the crowd?

ROCCO MEDIATE: Sure. Yeah. Sure. I talk anyway. I probably talk too much. I enjoy talking and I just go over and -- especially, like, if I'm sitting there waiting a few times, I go over and say hi or what's up or make fun of somebody or they make fun of me. Whatever. It's fun.

Q. How much of the fact that you appreciate being here has to do with what you've gone through over the years to still play golf?

ROCCO MEDIATE: Yeah, it's a lot. Just to get here, I was in a playoff, so that's a cool story. And I haven't played that well this year, until recently. And you just never know in this thing. You never know. You come to a place you like, it fits my eye, it fits my eye, and it fits my eye. I like what I see out there.

It's just a couple holes that are tough on -- I think all of us have our holes out there that we may not like the way it looks, but most of these holes I like what I see. And it's a huge deal. Especially tee shots.

Q. You're back to the short putter, the conventional length. You've been asked about that yet this week?

ROCCO MEDIATE: Not yet. I've been putting with it all, oh, not all year, probably since -- I don't remember when I changed. When did I change? Friday of Hilton Head. Yeah. That's right. Friday of Hilton Head. I put the Sabertooth in, nice name for a putter, and all of a sudden, I started to make a few here and there, and there we are.

But my back's good enough to where I can do it. It's a 36 inch putter so I'm not bent over that much.

Q. Just wondering, Tiger's at 2-under. I think he birdied Number 9 and coming off the injury and whatnot, I know it probably doesn't surprise you, but just wonder if you can comment.

ROCCO MEDIATE: Not at all.

Q. Comment where he's at, at this point, and what that means to this tournament for everybody else.

ROCCO MEDIATE: They asked me last week, people always -- my friends or someone will ask you who's the favorite? Well, of course he's the favorite. Of course he is. A lot of people said, well, he's not going to win because he's had, whatever, a thousand weeks off. He's a different -- it's not the same. When I talk about players or golf, he's not included when I talk because he's up there (Indicating).

But you want him in this event. You don't want him 7-over par as -- if you're going to win this tournament, it would be great to go up against him and maybe somehow, you never know. But to go up against the best, whether you win or lose, it's just -- you get to go up against the best. That's what I like. I like -- I don't have many more shots at this or playing golf with him, if I do this weekend, I don't know how the pairs will go, but that's what you want, as a player, is to see what you got against the man. And then you got the golf course, too, that you got to deal with, which is hard as they get.

That's what I always relish the opportunity to play with the best player in the world. And I don't know why you wouldn't. You just never know sometimes.

Q. Obviously, you have the talent to win a U.S. Open, or you wouldn't be here on Friday. What do you think for any player is the difference between having the talent to win a U.S. Open and actually winning a U.S. Open?

ROCCO MEDIATE: Probably in your head, because we all pretty much -- if you're in any position on the weekend to do good in this tournament, you're obviously hitting the ball, putting the ball well enough. You really can't fake it around here. You can't fake it to make it in a Major Championship, at least not on this golf course. You can't get away with pretty much anything here.

So you're obviously playing good enough to do good for the first two days. Yeah, it's going to get tougher the last two days. They're going to tighten the screws like they always do, which is what they should do, and make it harder and harder and harder, and it's a matter of how you deal with it. Because you're going to make bogeys, have things bounce wrong, and all that other stuff. And that's what you got to deal with.

And the guy who wins will deal with that the best, it's not really a matter of -- the physical part obviously has something to do with it, but if you're in position, your physical part's doing fine, it's the mental part you got to keep. So we'll see what I got starting tomorrow afternoon sometime.

Q. You mentioned you don't have a lot more shots at this thing?


Q. Is there --

ROCCO MEDIATE: Eight or ten by the time I'm 55, I don't think I'll probably play any more Opens.

Q. Do you put any pressure on yourself to get a Major?

ROCCO MEDIATE: No. Well, no, you don't, I've had a couple shots at it. I've been close a few times. But they're hard. There's only four of them a year, and I'm obviously not arranged in the top anything in the world right now. But you never know. You never know. I like what I saw the first two days, and I'm doing pretty good so far. So I'm looking forward to seeing how I feel on the first tee tomorrow. It will be exciting.

Q. How much would it mean to you to become the first American to win this tournament since Jim Furyk?

ROCCO MEDIATE: Really? Is that true? Wow, I didn't even know that. It would be great. Is that true? I didn't have any idea that that was true. Anyway, yeah, it would be -- it would be -- I don't know what I would do. I don't know what would I do, but it would be great to have a shot at it.

And, yeah, it's good, the first two days, but a shot at it comes Sunday afternoon. That's the shot, or Sunday evening this year.

Q. One more on Tiger, if I may, his second nine today was the front nine. He birdied 1, 2, 4, 5, and 9. I think that's 30. Did you see a 30 out there today?

ROCCO MEDIATE: I had a shot today on the front nine, the same. I had a really good shot, too. A lot of putts inside 20. So, yeah, and if I can do it. But, still, if he did that, he's driving his ball good. Because you don't do that, I don't care how strong or good you are, you can't do it from this rough. So he's driving it good. So it's going to be interesting an weekend. But I'm not surprised where he is at all. I'm not even surprised in the least.

Q. Same basic theme, when you come out and you make two birdies in the first four holes, do you start thinking, this could be something way more than I expected, and on the other hand, does it get frustrating when it's sort of stabilizes after that?

ROCCO MEDIATE: All you can do, and that's what I did really well today, for most of the holes, I let it go a few times. I just kept trying to hit fairways and greens, fairways and greens, fairways and greens, and keeping the ball around pin high, which is hard to do here. And I did that for a lot of the day. I had a couple of bad ones. But you really can't, because pars will never hurt you here. I missed a couple, but so does the rest of the field.

But I would love to make the other three or four putts that I could have made, but I didn't. But I still -- if you would have given me even-par today, I would have probably taken it, no problem. So I can't -- it was good. And I am not surprised at 5-under from him at all. He just makes putts, which he does really well.

Q. You told us a good story about qualifying.

ROCCO MEDIATE: Just that in a playoff, and after Memorial, and I played good at Memorial, which is my first decent tournament this year, and we were dead tired, and I had to wait around. I got there at 6:30, playoff was about 8 o'clock at night, I think. Is that about what time it was? And I'm up against all these kids. I'm in the second six of us, there's 11 guys, seven spots. So I'm the -- I'm 45, so I think the next youngest kid was -- I think Chad's 31, and who else was there?

Anyway, the rest were in their 20s. They're out driving, meaning they out drove me 50 yards in the first hole, and I'm back in with a 9- iron, and hit it to three feet and tapped in, and I made it, and they didn't. A couple other guys didn't, but it was funny, because as we walked off the tee, I'm, like, come along children, let's go. It was hilarious because I was pretty much -- if I didn't make it, the first hole, I was probably done, because I had to come back in the morning.

Q. What time did you finish your round and how long did you have to wait?

ROCCO MEDIATE: We were about an hour, hour and a half or so. Maybe an hour. Something like that. So it was cool. To be here is cool because who knows about playoffs.

RAND JERRIS: Rocco, thanks very much for your time. Congratulations on your fine play.

ROCCO MEDIATE: You got it, guys. Hope to see you tomorrow.

End of FastScripts

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