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June 16, 2008

Rocco Mediate


Full Audio Interview

RAND JERRIS: We're now joined by Rocco Mediate. Rocco, you played with incredible heart against the No. 1 player in the world. You must be proud of yourself.

ROCCO MEDIATE: Yeah, it was good. I threw everything I had, everything I had. He had to burn the last to stay in it again and he did it. He's remarkable. But I hung -- I came out there in the middle, was 3 back, 3-down after 10, and I really didn't play that poorly.

I missed a few putts. I misread one on 9. And then all of a sudden it turned a little bit. I thought I was going to win after I -- that putt went in on 15, I said, if I can keep hitting good shot after good shot, which I pretty much did, I'm going to win this golf tournament. I tried to hit a low hook on 18, just a little too much. I had a putt at it. I missed it, ad but I had the putt.

RAND JERRIS: Looks like you drew a fairly tough lie on the first bunker.

ROCCO MEDIATE: I've had trouble with it this week. I've -- how many times have we played the hole? Six? Oh, my God. I put it in there half the time we played it. My eye was missing on that hole again.

I caught a harsh lie on that one again. It would have been better if I did that this morning, but I didn't. I hit a good putt to stay, but those 30 footers aren't easy to make for most of us.

Q. How long do you think that putt was on 15. You said you had a chance to win. What was sort of the emotion going to the 16th tee? The crowd was getting into it. You have three holes left and you're leading.

ROCCO MEDIATE: Yeah, I talked to Zinger yesterday, Paul Azinger the other day, and he said before the 4th round, he said, don't be surprised or don't be -- what the heck did he say exactly -- when you regain the lead, don't be shocked.

And then in the playoff I thought the same thing, when you get the lead, don't be shocked, run with it, you know what I mean? All of a sudden I'm 3-down then I go to 1-up in five or six holes. But I was ready for it. I kept trying to make him play. And I pretty much did.

Like I said I hit -- almost hit a great shot on 16, just needed to carry it a little more, I hit a hard 4-iron up there.

And 17 I caught that funny lie, just a foot off the fairway. But he had to do something to stay alive. He did, obviously, because -- so I just tried to make him play it out. I thought I made birdie on 16 and 17, even though they were long putts, they all looked good going up there. Obviously I needed one more.

Q. How long was the putt on 15, do you think?

ROCCO MEDIATE: Probably 35 feet. A pretty 5-iron in there. He had an unbelievable shot where he was from. I couldn't see him, but it was unreal.

Q. The crowd obviously seemed to be very much in your favor. I wonder what your reaction to the crowd was. Also, did you try and keep Tiger a little bit loose going in and what's with the red shirt (laughter)?

ROCCO MEDIATE: Well, I didn't think he'd wear one today. I knew he wore it yesterday, so I decided last night. We just talked a little bit here and there a few times. I can tell that sometimes he doesn't want to bother, so I don't go over and bother him. We talked about a few things over the day. It was great. It was fun.

The fans were really good with the both of us. They were screaming both our names. It was unreal. It was the most amazing tournament I've ever been involved in, obviously. But fan-wise it's the best I've ever seen, for sure.

Q. When did you know -- when did you realize that 7 was going to be the first sudden death hole?

ROCCO MEDIATE: This morning. They told us if you went to 19 holes -- we went, we're not going to go to 19 holes. And we went to 19 holes. Go figure.

Q. It's just a matter of some holes don't set up for some players?

ROCCO MEDIATE: It's just -- I broke my driver on Saturday morning when I got here. I pulled it -- actually it was broken in the airplane. And I got the new one made and it just isn't quite the same as the other one. So it gave me a few surprises. It seemed to draw a little more than I wanted to a few times, not blaming the club, but it was a little different, I tried to do something different, just to hold it back up in the wind and I flipped it over. Some holes just don't fit your eye, and that's one of the ones that bothers me a little bit.

Q. I'm not sure, this may be difficult to answer, but with regard to Tiger, obviously this is his 14th major, given what he over came this week with the knee, obviously having outlasted you in the playoff, could you categorize where this might -- in your eyes, be in terms of his Majors, because you've been in and around all of them. Could this be maybe his most remarkable?

ROCCO MEDIATE: Well, yeah, because -- God, I can't say it. That's too funny (laughter). I lost my train of thought. When he took nine or ten weeks off after having the surgery at Augusta and came here without playing all that time and won the golf tournament, I don't know what else you can say about that.

I've come back from a lot of injuries, too, to try to come back and play, obviously not at that level, but I understand what he went through. I'm not surprised. Nothing he does surprises me.

But a lot of the U.S. playoffs it's not really that good of golf. It's usually one guy plays okay, and the other guy plays really not that good. It seems today -- it was just fun to see what the -- to turn the tables a little bit. I turned the table a little bit.

14 was a neat hole. It was neat. I don't know if he hit 3- wood or if I didn't hit 3-wood, I don't know if I made him pull that club. He's the best, I'm just trying to do the best I can. I hit a lot of good shots and a lot of times I had to do it.

It was a blast. I wasn't nearly as nervous as I thought I would be. I was a little nervous early, just a little shaky. And then all of a sudden it got better and better and I got more comfortable. Coming in I felt great, because you've got to trust what you do or else -- it's just great.

Q. Last year the U.S. Open at Oakmont in your hometown of Pittsburg, try and reflect back on where you were there. You didn't make the field. You were obviously hurt. And now where you are and what an incredible sort of ride it's been?

ROCCO MEDIATE: Yeah, truthfully, yeah, I'm disappointed a little that I didn't beat him. Just disappointed. Not upset. But I'm obviously a little beat up right now.

But the only thing I take from this is I gave him the best that I had and it wasn't quite good enough, but it almost was. It wasn't like I got my butt handed to me today. I didn't want that handed. And I didn't. I think that he obviously -- obviously I know he obviously wanted to win, but I think he enjoyed the crap out of this competition, and I certainly did. And I know that I still can do this stuff and I want to try that again sometime, somewhere.

Q. There's three playoff formats in the Majors, essentially you played two of them today.


Q. Which one would you prefer, the four holer or the one holer in the heat of the moment or wait --

ROCCO MEDIATE: I like, for our National Open or National Championship, I like the 18 holes. I do. I know some people don't, but too bad. I think it's a great system, because it's such a huge event.

After 18 holes, fine, sudden death is fine. I guess they used to go another 18 holes, correct? And then I would have died before that happened. Maybe I would have been better if we had a 36 hole playoff. No, anyway, I think it's great the way it is.

Q. You talk about the combination of pride and fun factor and how that came into play for you today?

ROCCO MEDIATE: Oh, you know, playing against him, especially heads up like this, it's going to be a hard battle. He's not going to go away. He's not going to hit -- like standing there on the 18th fairway, he's not going to hit his ball in the water. He's more than likely not going to miss the green to the right. He's going to hit a beautiful shot. How do you counter that is to play the best you can.

And if anybody in this world goes up against Tiger when he's at his best, they are going to lose, it's just that simple. I don't care who it is. Was he at his best this week? He was pretty good. Obviously he's hurt. But there's where he's his best, always (indicating.)

It wasn't a walk in the park. I didn't want it to be a walk in the park. It could have been. I'm a little bit tired today, I'm a little old. He's got me by 14 years. He's got me by a thousand yards off the tee. And I kept hanging in there, hanging in there, hanging in there. When he needed that drive on 18 to go about 340, he got it. If he misses that fairway it's a battle with wedges, and he has to make a 10- footer to win or tie. But he just had a two-putt. It's like I told Matt, I said, this guy is impossible. If he wins you can't get him. I thought I had him a while. I kept hitting good shot after good shot after good shot and so did he.

Earlier he made some unbelievable par putts and birdie putts. He's who he is. There's nothing else to say.

Q. Watching you play it looked like you would be much more comfortable playing that in about three hours.

ROCCO MEDIATE: It was great.

Q. It looked to me like on the second hole Tiger started slowing down, and I've never seen him back off so many shots, have you ever seen him back off so many shots?

ROCCO MEDIATE: I think it was just because I was intimidating him a little early and he had to deal with that stuff (laughter).

The wind is funny here. Today was totally different than the other four days. It switched a bunch of times, it was weird. It wasn't nearly as strong at times. He just does -- like on 17, he stood there for a while, but he got it right. He wasn't going to hit that shot until he was ready, which is fine.

Q. Sorry if you already addressed this one. I was wondering if you could explain that look on your face when he's playing out of the bunker on the 9th fairway as you guys are playing the 15th hole.

ROCCO MEDIATE: He was in the bunker? I had no idea where he was. I said to Matt, I knew I was away, so I hit my 5-wood on the green. And as soon as I heard the ball I said, don't worry, just look at the flag, that's probably where it was going. And that's right where it went.

You look back, and go, what are you doing over there? Most guys would say to themselves, if I put this ball on the green, he's probably making bogey over there. He almost made birdie. It doesn't work with him. It's everybody else but him.

Like I said, when I talk about golf, he doesn't count (laughter.) He's not normal. He's way above everything.

RAND JERRIS: Thank you very much. Congratulations.

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