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July 17, 2008
MALCOLM BOOTH: Ladies and gentlemen, we've got Rocco Mediate with us. Rocco shot 69, 1-under par today and is leading the Open Championship.
ROCCO MEDIATE: I have no explanation for that whatsoever (laughter). No idea why that happened.
MALCOLM BOOTH: 33 on the back nine, difficult conditions. Just give us some thoughts on that.
ROCCO MEDIATE: It's just so hard out there. There's such narrow corridors out there, those fairways, and the wind is blowing a lot. A lot of times you've just got to survive. I think you'll probably hear that from everybody. But I made pretty much every single putt I could have made today. I don't think that I really missed one, actually I did on the 1st hole and I was very disappointed in myself.
No, it was just one of those rounds. It was just up-and-down and up-and-down and a couple birdies and here we are. I would have been ecstatic with 73 or 74 today.
MALCOLM BOOTH: And the birdies on the back nine?
ROCCO MEDIATE: I birdied 13. That hole is playing straight downwind so it was just a driver and an 8-iron for me. The guys I was playing with didn't hit driver on that hole. I hit it up there and I had just an 8-iron back there, but I made about a good 40-footer there across the green, a little hooker down there just trying to make 4, and there we go.
17 was -- I drove it good on 17 and there's a big wait on the tee, two or three groups on the tee and then us. Missed a 3-iron to the right over there, trying to play it past the flag to the little backstop and carried it a little too far and it stayed up there. Just tried to pitch it -- the greens are firm but you can stop it. I was trying to give myself a ten-footer and it fell in the right edge. Call it what you want, fairly lucky I should say.
Then 18, I hit a driver and an 8-iron to 20 something feet, 20 feet, and made that. Crazy stuff.
Q. Can you just talk a little bit about this run you're on here? Has it been a bit magical for you? Obviously the U.S. Open unfolded and the beginning of this major here.
ROCCO MEDIATE: Yeah, a lot of things have happened over that time. It all started -- Cindy is a big part of the story, and she hates when I say that but I'm going to say that. She's the one who put my back into where it belongs. I didn't want to play over the last two years.
Through that time I really wanted to play on Zinger's Ryder Cup team, so I made that a goal two years ago. Obviously this year started out just horrible. It wasn't injuries, but I wasn't playing good and the attitude was no good. We talked through the months about that, and I also told her that this game can turn so fast, it'll make your head spin.
And all of a sudden I started to make some cuts, and then I played a pretty good event at Memorial, Jack's tournament, and that's when -- made it through the Open qualifying. Those are hours and hours of stories, but the longer story short is I knew when I got to Torrey that I was playing good enough -- whether I was going to win or not, who knows. You don't know that. I knew that that golf course fit me because I'm driving good, and it's in Open conditions, so pars mean something, which I love the feel of that.
Just all of a sudden it let go. I putted good, I drove it pretty good, my misses were where they belonged. I didn't make a lot of mistakes, just a couple. And then the two weeks after that, even after all the insanity, and it's been a great ride, believe me, I say insanity but it's in a good way. It's been a lot of fun. Obviously a lot of people have been watching. It made me believe more now in all the stuff that Cindy and I have talked about and gone through and making the shots do what I'm asking them to do, which is a big part of the body being in a reasonable condition, as far as not hurt.
I played two decent tournaments after. I didn't really expect to play good at the Buick Open because it was the first week back after I really didn't sleep at all for like ten days, so -- and then where was I last, Congressional, which is another Open-type golf course. I had a good week there. I didn't want to let go and just -- I enjoyed the Open, but I haven't really sat and enjoyed it yet. I haven't had time.
I just wanted to keep it going and keep it going, and so far, so good. I don't know how else to explain it. Like I said, it's hours and hours, but we don't have hours and hours.
Q. Just as a follow-up, what were your expectations coming here and playing here in these conditions?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Well, it's like I want to get back in that place that I was a month or so ago. That's where I want to try to get back to. It's a hard course, it's a long course, it's windy. It was cold this morning. I'm old. You know, there's a few things stacked against you. But it doesn't really matter what I learned at Torrey Pines. It doesn't matter how you get it done. Today was by no means pretty. I made every single putt. I hit some beautiful pitches. I chipped the ball in on 17, which is a joke. I'm trying to make 5 and it goes in.
There's a certain person who you all know who isn't here who does that a lot. All of a sudden maybe tomorrow will turn around a little bit and I'll hit it better. I don't know what's going to happen, I really don't.
It's just survival. Like I said, 72, 73, 74 would have been lovely today. I would have been quite happy with that. I'm ecstatic with this one. This was a lot of fun.
Q. What's been the roller coaster the last few weeks, just trying to find out if you're going to be in here?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Oh, God, yeah. Well, I got in on that five-tournament Money List, five or six, I don't know. I think it was six.
Q. And THE PLAYERS.
ROCCO MEDIATE: Yeah, and THE PLAYERS. I was second going to Congressional, I think. Yeah, I was second. And Kenny Perry was first. I wasn't going to play, but they still said that it doesn't matter, you're still second. Paul Goydos did me a lovely favour by qualifying in the qualifier that Monday, or else I wouldn't have made it.
So Tommy Armour was playing beautiful, and if he makes one more birdie coming in, I'm gone. A lot of crazy things have happened the last six weeks. Long story short, I knew what was going on. I really didn't know I was in until a couple hours after Congressional was over, after AT&T, and Tiger's event.
Q. Kind of two questions in one over here. If you can stay in contention on the weekend, how much will Torrey Pines have helped do you think? And how often today did you hear comments about Tiger and Torrey Pines from the gallery?
ROCCO MEDIATE: I heard it not as much as in the States recently, but I heard it, a lot of "great Open," a lot of the players, too, which means a lot. When your peers say that, it's cool, I think.
But as far as if I get into contention on the weekend, there is nothing that can -- yeah, of course I'll be nervous, of course we'll all be nervous, all that stuff. But there's nothing that can -- I don't think there's a situation that I can be in other than on that Monday against Tiger to feel the feelings that I had. I want a chance to go in and see if I can handle it all again and maybe do one better. But I actually look forward to seeing what happens. It's just -- I don't know, I think it has done nothing but make me better, even though I did not win the golf tournament. Some people do forget that (laughter).
Q. On Sunday you had to receive some manipulative treatment from Cindy on the 10th fairway. Did you need any today?
ROCCO MEDIATE: A little on 11, just normal stuff, nothing bad. Like I said before, no one really feels great under these conditions, no matter how old or young you are, so it's hard to do what you normally do because it's so windy, a little damp. Obviously it rained this morning. It just keeps it loose. It's just the right hip. It's like this -- it wasn't like killing me but I needed a little bit of work.
Q. You didn't have to lie down on the fairway?
ROCCO MEDIATE: No, on the rough, on the side there. It just takes, what, 30 seconds? That's all it takes.
Q. When you woke up this morning and saw the conditions, was there any sense of dread or knowing what you were about to go through, knowing that it's not that easy to do it with all the physical things --
ROCCO MEDIATE: There was definitely dread, yes, there was dread this morning. I don't know, there's always dread it seems, at least in my case, a couple hours before I play. It's always worrying and wondering what's going to happen. But once you get in between the ropes and off the first tee, it's like, let's see what we've got today. And if you don't have it, the score will tell you exactly how you did. That's the most fun part of it, especially in this event or especially any major, but this event especially. There's so many ways to get it done around here. The golf courses were built so beautifully back then, and it allows you to play in these conditions because that's what they built it for.
Q. Not to be a buzz kill in any way, shape or form --
ROCCO MEDIATE: You can't.
Q. Right, I can't kill your buzz. You talked about the confidence level from Torrey and whatnot and the way you played and had a good week at Congressional. Do you feel like a guy that has not won a golf tournament in some six years right now? Do you know what I mean?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Yeah, I know that was -- I thought it was more than that. But anyway, from where I came from, what's happened over the last four or five years and then the last two years, no, I don't really feel that way. I knew that it was in there, I just had to get it out somehow. There's a lot of things that got it out of me, Cindy being one of them, the main one actually.
I don't know, I think I still have one of these. Whether it's this week or this month or next year, whatever. I don't feel like I'm on my way out. I feel like I just got a new -- it's just starting again. I feel that way. Whether it happens or not, I really don't -- it's almost like I don't really care. I just want to get in the situation to see what I really have. That's what you want to test. I was tested a month or so ago. The only thing I didn't like of the results was I lost. I liked the rest of the results because I did about as good as I could do.
Q. The beginning of last year when you did that headset sidelines gig for The Golf Channel --
ROCCO MEDIATE: That was the beginning of '07, yes.
Q. At that point were you looking for alternate moonlight opportunities because the future was not all that assured?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Yeah, I had no status. But I figured I'd get into some tournaments and could get some sponsors exemptions and all that stuff. Yeah, I enjoyed The Golf Channel stuff. It was great, I had an absolute blast with that stuff. But do I want to do that? Now. Did I know how I was going to play? No. During the Riviera tournament is when we met, when I met Cindy.
All of a sudden I said, yeah, I want to keep doing this. I was wasting my time. It was just horrible. From The Masters in '06 is when it went completely sideways. And from there to now has been -- it's ridiculous what's happened, ridiculous. I'm shocked at a lot of things in myself, totally.
Q. You mentioned Cindy's role. What else has happened to sort of snap you out of that and get you here?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Jimmy Ballard. Jimmy Ballard, for sure. I started working with Jimmy coming up on four years, three or four years, and he's a genius as far as the back is concerned and what to do around the golf swing, what to do with the back and how it moves and stuff like that. And I always had similar motion to what he teaches, but he did a few things to it with my legs and stuff that made it able for me to do things.
For example, today, I had really nothing today as far as the feeling of hitting my golf ball around the golf course. Totally different than when it's warm for me. So it's just a matter of -- but Jimmy has been -- those two have been the whole ball of wax, because Jimmy has taught me -- I've learned so much about moving the golf club a certain way and how it does certain things.
I've always been able to mimic things pretty well, and I've got some good -- it's pretty simple stuff. And huge in what he's done for me. He's made it much easier to play, and very little back problems. That's huge, because with a golf swing that makes the back go crazy it's hard to make it better no matter who you are. I don't want to have any more surgeries or anything like that. But all those components have been monstrous, but Jimmy has been huge.
He's taught me well enough and it's simple enough to where -- do we work every month? No. Does he travel with me? No. He came to Bay Hill, but it's been a couple months. We talk on the phone occasionally. It's the same thing every single time. Like I always say, it's not rocket science.
Q. Are there any conditions where you wear a golf glove?
ROCCO MEDIATE: No, I've never worn one. I have to take that back. I wore one for maybe like a week when I was in high school, and I didn't like it, so I haven't worn one since.
Q. Just you and Freddie.
ROCCO MEDIATE: Freddie, Corey doesn't wear one. Janzen used to not wear one, but for some reason he went back to the dark side this year and now he's wearing a golf glove. I don't know what happened. There's just a few of us. The only time it gets me is on a hot day hitting balls on the range. That's about it.
Q. You said you felt a bit of dread when you saw the weather this morning, but when you got to the course and saw some of the scores that were going up there, what did you think -- how did you think, right, I'm going to have to play it this way?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Yeah, well, you know, on the range it was just pouring. The guys who played earlier got the bad side of the draw for sure with the wind and the rain. On the range it was just pouring. In a major like this, on a day like today, I've seen it a million times, 75 just doesn't kill you; it doesn't. Anything under that is kind of a target you can shoot at. So if you get a couple of them probably like I was, you just try to stay there somehow, no matter how you do it. And maybe things happen like it happened to me, make a couple birdies here and there, make a few putts that you didn't think you were going to make from 25 feet for par. Stuff like that happens.
But that takes the pressure off a little bit, a little bit.
Q. Is it just knowing that somewhere in the round something is going to go wrong?
ROCCO MEDIATE: You have to deal with it. That's the thing about this, it's whoever handles the insanity best because balls are going to bounce funny, you're going to hit it in a divot, you're going to have to get out of the bunkers, you have to come out sideways. It's just how it is. There's nothing you can really do about it. You have to hang in there somehow. It's hard to do sometimes.
Q. You played unbelievable in the U.S. Open. In the playoff against Tiger, mentally how sunk were you in the 18 holes?
ROCCO MEDIATE: You mean then?
ROCCO MEDIATE: I just -- when I went into that playoff, I just knew that if I could shoot anywhere from 69, 1-under par, to 72, I'd probably win the golf tournament on Monday.
Q. You played against him in the tournament. Did you go in thinking I'm going to lose?
ROCCO MEDIATE: No. I think I was the only one -- well, there was a couple of us.
Q. The playoff?
ROCCO MEDIATE: The playoff, right. There's only a couple of us that -- I seriously thought when I woke up Monday morning that I was going to beat him, because I knew that there's no way -- I obviously am a huge fan of Tiger's, the utmost, ridiculous amount of respect. I love the way this guy does his thing, I really do. I'm not afraid to say that. I've gotten some crap for that over the years. Why can't I like someone like that and still want to go out and beat him, which I did? He can't stop me from shooting a score. I don't get it.
Yeah, there's some intimidation. Yeah, he's the best player in the world, and that's what you want to go up against. I'd like to do it every week. I might be completely nuts in six months, but I'd like to do that every week and see how you do, because there might be one time where you might get to beat him. It doesn't happen very often.
ROCCO MEDIATE: I think what they wanted, and you guys know this, if somebody wanted somebody to put him up against it once and see what -- I couldn't do much more, I really couldn't. I'd love to have hit that putt, I'd love to have read that putt better on the 90th hole. It went left, I thought it was going to move a little right. But I had a putt at it. Whether it goes in, it doesn't matter, it doesn't even matter, it's just a matter of having it.
Q. After the 12th, we thought surely there was no coming back, and then you came back.
ROCCO MEDIATE: After 10, actually. On that type of golf course -- was I 3-over? Yeah, I was 3-over par, so I still want to try to get back to even to see what happened. Who knows. I was just trying to hit a good shot to 11. When he missed on the 11th, you still think he's going to make par because he pretty much does that all the time. I had a good shot, and it changed. From the 11th tee box in, I did not miss the middle of the face. I had a bad drive on 18 trying to hit a big hook out there because I couldn't reach other wise.
I figured if I go do that, there's nothing else I can do. I didn't know that -- when that putt went in on 15, walking to 16 tee, I went, this is what I've been waiting for. I wasn't like, oh, my God, I'm leading the U.S. Open. Oh, my God. I'm like, this is what I want. I get to see what I've got now. I get to test it again. It worked pretty good.
But confidence-wise, I'll never -- we're always going to doubt ourselves in certain moments. I don't know, if I get back in this thing on Sunday, win or lose, I'm going to have some fun doing this stuff because I really enjoyed that U.S. Open obviously and the feelings that I took from it.
Q. Taking that into this event now, you almost beat the best in the world.
ROCCO MEDIATE: Yep.
Q. He's not here now.
ROCCO MEDIATE: Right.
Q. How do you feel about that? Does that motivate you?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Like I said, it doesn't motivate me at all when he's not around. It doesn't make -- I'd rather him be here than not. But the difference in this major, the first one without him in who knows how long, is whoever is there on the weekend does not have to look him in the eye. That's different. I can assure you of that. I've seen it. It's totally different.
Does it take anything away? Absolutely not. Of course this is one of the greatest tournaments ever, and it is what it is, but it'll be different because he's not here and he's the best player in the world, and when he's not here it's a different field. But I think it's going to be just as nerve-wracking, just as exciting. It's all about what's in here and you get to find out.
Every tournament is great, but the majors, I've learned over 23 years, and I've only been in there a few times, are completely different. And coming down the stretch here, there's some amazing holes and some amazing things could happen.
That 17th hole is going to have something to say about it, I can assure you of that.
Q. Have you communicated with Tiger at all since Torrey?
ROCCO MEDIATE: We've just traded a couple voicemails, and I talked to Steinberg a little bit. He left me a really cool message a few weeks ago, which is nice, and I talked to O'Meara a little bit today on the 17th tee, and he seems to be recovering nicely, and he'll be just fine.
Q. Sort of unrelated, how difficult can this be if it blows even more, which is in the forecast for Saturday?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Like I said, these corridors are so small and these fairways are so tight. There's plenty of room, but with the wind blowing it makes them tiny, and then if you miss -- especially me, if I miss in the high rough I'm toast. I don't do anything from there. Not many people can, but some can.
Like I said, who knows what a good score is going to be. Did I expect to do that? Absolutely not. 72 or 73 or 74 would have been great. Who knows what it will take. All I have really to think about is my first tee shot tomorrow morning, whether it's a 3-wood or whatever it is, it's simple. It's one of the hardest opening holes ever, by the way, this place here, I think.
End of FastScripts