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July 31, 2008

Rocco Mediate


LAURA HILL: Rocco Mediate welcome in, first time, 3-under to start this event --
LAURA HILL: To start this event with the golf course playing the way it is, you have to be pretty happy being under par to start.
ROCCO MEDIATE: Yeah, this golf course, I've always loved it but I've never shot a good score on it. I think my best score before was 1-under. It's playing long. For me it's playing long, and it's all good. It's just soft. It won't play easier than it did today. There's no wind, really, right now.

Q. What about the way you're playing now do you like the most?
ROCCO MEDIATE: I don't know, just trying to keep the momentum. I'm just using the momentum and trying to keep it going. Like I said, the U.S. Open, all it did for me is made me such a better player in a week, just because I -- I don't know, I don't feel like anything can scare me anymore. You're going to be nervous and everything like that, but I feel like I can do it if I need to.
I'm just trying to keep going. I'm driving good and that's the whole key, especially here. It's narrow and it's hard to get to those pins. I can't get to the greens from the rough pretty much. So even though it's not as high as it used to be, it's still very thick.

Q. Any special pins on the cap this week?
ROCCO MEDIATE: No, no pins.

Q. It looks like a pin.
ROCCO MEDIATE: No, this is for Boo. This is for Jeff Burrell.

Q. Could you go through your round for us, birdies, bogeys?
ROCCO MEDIATE: I birdied 2, laid up on 2, hit it in the divot off the tee but I couldn't make it anyway, made a 10-footer there.
Par-3, 6-iron.
5-iron to 9 from about 20 feet up the hill. That was actually an eagle. That should have been a par-5. Just kidding.
I had a lovely three-putt on 10 from ten feet, thank you. That was real fun. And that's it.

Q. How are you enjoying the cover of Golf World and all this stuff?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Yeah, sorry about that picture.

Q. Did you do that intentionally, not shave for about an hour?
ROCCO MEDIATE: It was about 45 minutes actually (laughter). I think it was after the second round at the Open, I believe, we did them. I just wanted to be like the weather, nasty, so I just didn't do that. Then I said, do you want to take pictures, take them like this.

Q. So you don't have an endorsement for beards?
ROCCO MEDIATE: No, I'm not on the Gillette staff, no.

Q. What were you hitting for second shots today on say some of the par-4s?
ROCCO MEDIATE: I hit a lot of 5-irons today, which I love that fact that you can actually still hit that club into some par-4s. I hit a short club into 1, 3 short, 5-iron into 4, big drive for me. 5-iron into 6, 4-iron at 7, 6-iron at 8 and 5-iron at 9, so all middle clubs which are my favorite clubs to hit. 10 was a short club. 11, I hit it in the short rough so that didn't matter. 13 was a 5-iron, 14 was a 5-iron. 3-iron to 16, and then short clubs into the rest of them, because 18 was a 6-iron actually. So I hit a lot of middle clubs today.

Q. Have you hit that many irons lately? Have you had to hit that many irons lately?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Those numbers? Not really. Some courses, you know, they're just a little -- we're as a whole getting a lot longer now as a TOUR. But you see a lot of 7- and 8-irons nowadays, 9-irons sometimes. But here I love the fact that it's -- for me it is. Most of the guys are probably hitting 6s and 7s when I'm hitting 5s. I'm hitting a lot of middle clubs, which I enjoy.

Q. A lot of the theories were that guys who have beaten or pushed Tiger didn't have anything to lose. Is that true?
ROCCO MEDIATE: That's so not true. The bottom line is the thing I liked about it was 18 holes. It wasn't four or sudden death. It was 18 holes and a night to think about it. There's a difference. I thought I wanted that -- to have the stage and see what I could do on that stage. Whether I lost, I didn't care. Did I have anything to lose? Yeah, I had the U.S. Open to lose. It wasn't like la-la-la, I'll just watch Tiger beat me up in front of 14,000 people. It didn't happen like that. I did get beat, but it was amazing to be a part of that that day with him. You just don't get that. Actually, it's never happened before, and it may never happen again.

Q. Is there any part of that that you think -- was it the 158th ranked player versus 1 that resonated so much?
ROCCO MEDIATE: No, it was just being able and having the privilege, in my eyes, to play against the best player in the world. I don't care if he's hurt, he's playing good, you know what I mean? Tiger would never say that stopped him from doing anything. If he would have lost the tournament you wouldn't have heard, "My knee was bad and that's why I lost." But the privilege of doing that on that stage was the coolest thing that will ever happen to me in golf, no matter how many tournaments I win or if I do that ten more times, lose in playoffs, nothing will ever top that. I don't care if I win the U.S. Open next year. That was just something that I always wanted to have, and I got it. I got to see what could happen. I liked what happened except for one shot. Otherwise we might still be out there.

Q. Where does the BBQ at the White House rank?
ROCCO MEDIATE: That was just a surprise. About 10, 12 guys went. It was neat. The president was pretty cool.

Q. How so?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Just a normal guy, just hanging out talking to everybody, with all his friends. The only difference was it was at the White House. Just a small difference (laughter). It was a lot of fun. The fireworks were cool.

Q. Was he aware of what you had experienced?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Yeah, he was.

Q. Did he say anything?
ROCCO MEDIATE: He just said he loved watching it, and it was just cool. That's been the most amazing thing, that people that enjoyed it, that all of a sudden I heard stories that kept getting bigger and more people would come into certain bars, it was just packed. Who was telling me in LA they were doing that outside of -- I don't remember where it was, but people were watching outside the window to see what was going on because they kept hearing about how the match had gone, what it went to.
It was just amazing how many people -- like I said a million times, my mother doesn't even know what golf is, but she couldn't take her eyes off the TV. That's cool. Like I said before, was it because of me? No, it was because of Tiger and the U.S. Open and us playing a match, and I just happened to be playing him. That's the power he brings to this game. It's remarkable.

Q. The president had time to watch 18 holes?
ROCCO MEDIATE: I don't know if he watched them all, but he knew what happened. I'm sure he had time, though (laughter).

Q. To continue that thread about what resonated with people, it was Tiger, sure, but he's had things like that before happen and it didn't continue to resonate with the guy who happened to be in the ring with him. So what do you think it was? You mentioned the one thing about how you were not approaching it like you had nothing to lose. What else do you think it was?
ROCCO MEDIATE: When I woke up on Monday morning, me and certain other people are the only people on this earth that I thought -- I woke up thinking I'm going to win this golf tournament, because it's all about a score. 69 to 72 I think wins, and I was right. It's just he happened to shoot the same score I did.
There's nothing that could stop me from doing that but myself. I knew -- it's like how many opportunities -- I think I'm going to have more opportunities now that I had that one. Everyone said this may be his last chance. It very well may be my last chance but I don't think it's going to be. With him it's probably never going to happen again in Monday play, with anybody for that matter.
But you just don't get to put yourself up against the best player, as I always say, on grass, in the United States Open. It's insane what happened, and that's what I dreamed, that I wanted him anywhere on Sunday to see how I would do. I just wanted to go out and see if I could give him a game and maybe beat him. Every once in a while he does lose, but not in that situation.
But I was very -- we were both very nervous. He had a lot on the line there. I just went out and played and absolutely took it all in. I remember everything that happened that day. I pretty much watched him hit every shot, and I wanted to see all of it. I got to see it, and I just about pulled it off. I just about pulled it off.

Q. Why is it that you're so unique that you can have this experience?
ROCCO MEDIATE: It was the best of my entire life.

Q. But some golfers would --
ROCCO MEDIATE: Golf-wise. I have absolutely no idea why that is, because if I was anybody -- if I was the top players in the world, I would want him as often as I could get to play him. I'm probably going to lose most of the time; so what? I want to see what I've got because all that's going to happen is to see could I perform to the best of my ability in front of a billion zillion people, him and 27,000 people watching just us two play golf, can I do that? I got to see it. I remember walking to the 11th tee, and I remember saying to myself, do not miss one more shot today and you can beat this guy, and I pretty much didn't, and I almost beat him.
Why wouldn't I want that? I don't understand why people would be like scared, worried, I'm going to lose, I can't believe he made that putt, why didn't I make another putt? Yeah, I did all I could. I would have loved to have birdied 18 and won outright, but so would have he. I wanted that to happen. I enjoyed it.
What scares me the most, and I was talking to someone yesterday, is the way I react to shots and laughing and talking that scares me a little bit. Because why wouldn't you do that out there? I don't understand. It doesn't make any sense to me whatsoever.

Q. Was 10 when you fell three shots behind in the playoff?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Yeah, I made two bonehead mistakes on 9 and 10.

Q. So instead of saying, well, he never loses with a lead --
ROCCO MEDIATE: No, this was an Open golf course. If this was the Buick Open in San Diego, I'm done. But this wasn't the Buick, this was the U.S. Open. Little bitty mistakes turn into bogeys, and everybody makes them. I just knew if I kept putting my ball where I was looking that I might have a shot at it. Not guaranteed. He might have made three birdies but he didn't. I made three birdies, so I'm right there. Walking to the 16 tee I was not in shock. I said this is what you wanted, let's go. Oh, my God, I'm leading the Open, what do I do now? This is what I wanted to be doing, and that's what I got.

Q. How do you think you've managed to go forward? You haven't left it behind. Everybody is asking you about it. You're still playing well. Now you're here, next week the PGA. Your thoughts on this attitude and how maybe it'll work here?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Yeah, it says I want to make the Ryder Cup team. I don't care how I make it. I don't want Paul to have to think about a pick, so I have two weeks to get that out of there. I have two weeks to get in the top eight, and that's what I want, just because I was runner-up in the U.S. Open does not mean that I'm on the Ryder Cup team. That is not going through Paul's head. If I don't make it the next two weeks he wants to watch the next three weeks to see who's playing the best to make his choice. That's the right way to do it because he wants to have the best players playing the best going into the Ryder Cup. That's all I'm thinking about is trying to play the best I can the next two weeks and get it done, and I have the opportunity to do it. All I want is an opportunity to do it and then you can do it hopefully.

Q. Did you set that goal after the Open?
ROCCO MEDIATE: I told him last year at Tampa that I wanted to be on his team. It wasn't looking real good. Memorial I got a few points, and that helped me a lot. That kind of helped me towards the Open with a little bit of confidence. So I told him then, and that wasn't happening very well. And all of a sudden, bang, the Open happens and a couple more decent finishes really and a decent finish at the other Open and I went up to 11th without Tiger as 10th. So I have a great opportunity, and whether it happens again in two years, I don't know, but I don't want to find out. I'd like to get that done now.

Q. The PGA is on another difficult, difficult golf course. The PGA of America sets up their championship courses so you can shoot scores.
ROCCO MEDIATE: Yeah, you can't shoot scores no matter how they set it up, though. Oakland Hills is a beast. Shooting a good score is 1- or 2-under par. It's just hard. If I keep playing solid, around par is going to be good. I love that. I love the whole thing.

Q. In a way, it might be a replay of Torrey Pines?
ROCCO MEDIATE: It's an unbelievable driving golf course, Oakland Hills, very difficult driving course, as most majors are. But I love that fact. Whether I drive it straighter next week, I don't know, but I love that fact.
Par is neat when it matters. You know, you make a par on a hole and you're not losing a shot to the field, that's fine. That's how Opens are and pretty much all majors these days. Obviously Augusta has changed where par does matter now. Whereas before you were shooting 10-, 12-under par, now it's 8-under par. But it an Open it doesn't matter.

Q. With Rees Jones having rebuilt next week's venue and having rebuilt Torrey Pines, will that be of any help to you?
ROCCO MEDIATE: No, it's just a matter of putting the ball in the fairway. That's all you can do on that type of golf course. It's just hard going into those greens. It's a hard golf course, lots of funny things going on there. Hogan didn't call it a monster for nothing, and it was easier back then, I think. Not easier, but it probably played longer, but they messed with it even more. It's a lot longer and the greens are a lot more severe. The 18th hole is going to be close to 500 yards. Going into that green, that's insane. But it's good because a 4 is really good there, and that's what you want.

Q. Guys who grew up athletes from your area of the country seem to have a pretty good balance. Do you think that affects your perspective and how you look at things?
ROCCO MEDIATE: I don't even -- I don't know. I don't know if that made any difference. I know a few guys came from western Pennsylvania, but that really never even entered --

Q. Even in football.
ROCCO MEDIATE: No, not really, because I never really followed it that much. I'm still a Steelers fan and I root for the Pirates, but -- I shouldn't tell you that, I might get shot up here. I always go by some guys in the gallery and say sorry about the '70s and '80s, I apologize. They don't take too kindly to that (laughter).
But I don't think it really made much of a difference because it's a whole different sport. I'm just pretty happy to be where I've been for 23 years playing this game for a living, so I want to stay out here for a little longer.

Q. Just one more on the aftermath. Kenny was saying he likes some of the stuff about all the attention he's getting, some of it he doesn't like. What about you?
ROCCO MEDIATE: It's part of the job. If you don't like the attention, play bad. You won't get any attention. It's real simple (laughter).
Yes, one of the things I've learned the most is an attempt to manage time. Everybody wants something, and that's great. But you have to manage time sometimes, and I'm learning to do that. I've never had this before. People have known who I am, of course, but this is insane. I've enjoyed it. It's funny sometimes. People in the middle of nowhere will notice something. That's how many people watched that thing. It's amazing.

Q. Funny, people texting from the office building next door about you being in Starbucks is --
ROCCO MEDIATE: Yeah, that was funny. We went, "What?" I don't know, it was just the wildest thing I've ever experienced, and probably nothing will ever come close to it. Like I said before, it was by far the most fun, and the most I've gotten out of anything I've ever done in golf was that Monday with Tiger, even though I lost. People can't understand that part. Someone has got to lose. If I would have lost by eight, it wouldn't have been so cool, I'd have let myself down. But I didn't. Losing is losing, but in that case it was a battle of all battles, and I'll never forget it.
LAURA HILL: We hope you come back and see us again.

End of FastScripts

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