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August 6, 2008

Rocco Mediate


KELLY ELBIN: Rocco Mediate joining us at the 90th PGA Championship at Oakland Hills Country Club. This will be Rocco's 15th PGA Championship.
ROCCO MEDIATE: Wow, that's a lot.
KELLY ELBIN: His best finish, sixth at Hazeltine Golf Club in 2002, outside of Minneapolis.
Your thoughts on the golf course? You said you played nine holes, certainly it's been a wonderful year for you in many ways.
ROCCO MEDIATE: Yeah, it's been good. The golf course speaks for itself. It's hard, the tee boxes are in good spots. It's just going to be a good tournament. Somewhere around par, it looks like, a couple under here or there. Probably. It depends on the weather, but it's going to be a good test.
KELLY ELBIN: Talk about what life has been like since the U.S. Open and a memorable 18-hole playoff.
ROCCO MEDIATE: I'm still a bit unsettled. Still lots going on. It's been great. It's neat. There's a lot more people around, a lot more people in practice rounds, doing more of this. It's fine. It's just time management is the tough part, but it's going good.

Q. Can you talk about the par 3s on this golf course. There's a lot of talk about No. 9 and No. 17; what are your thoughts on, as a group, what these par 3s mean?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Well, they are obviously good. You know one of them, 17 is like 240 almost, and 9 is 255, 260. And the other two are pretty much the same distance, 4- or 5-iron shots, I'm pretty sure. They will be very difficult.
9 will accept a 3-wood shot.
17 there is a bit more motion in 17.
So we all have to play them. They are just really long. I think 17 is going to be the toughest of the three. There's just nowhere to mess up there.
9, there's a little more room for error, but 17 is going to be the toughest one. They are wood shots, for me.

Q. Paul Azinger was in here a little while ago, and your name came up with the Ryder Cup discussion. How do you feel about being a rookie on that team if you make it?
ROCCO MEDIATE: It would be great. I still have a lot of stuff to do. One more good shot here to get in the top eight is what we are all looking to do, actually; and then there's a couple more events after to see what he thinks, which is a great way to do it. I think he made a good move in changing the way, instead of having all the picks Monday morning, he'll watch a few weeks and see who is really playing better.
It's something I want to do, of course. I mean, I have another shot. So I told him a year and a half ago that I want to be on that team, and it wasn't looking good until a few months ago, or a month, I don't even know how long it's been, a month and a half ago, so I've got a shot. That's all you can really ask for. It would be a lot of fun, though, I can tell you that.
KELLY ELBIN: Rocco is currently 12th on the points list for The Ryder Cup.

Q. With all that's come at you in the last two months, what's the whackiest, craziest couple of things that have been thrown at you?
ROCCO MEDIATE: There hasn't been a lot of crazy things. It's just, the amazing thing is the amount of people that saw that U.S. Open, and the amount of people that have come up to me just in the middle of wherever, it doesn't matter. Walking to dinner last night, one guy stopped the car on the street, sent his son over, I signed the autograph and he got back in the car. It was kind of freaky, actually. It was fine. There wasn't much going on. It wasn't a busy street.
But it's different, totally different. People that saw that tournament, I've still got stories and there will be more stories, about how many people watched it, and I've told you it a million times; "My father hates golf, my mother hates golf and she watched the whole thing."
Some of the players, I was just talking to Parker McLachlin and he said, "I watched you for five hours, I don't know what the heck I was thinking about. My wife was telling me to get the hell off the couch." Stuff like that, it's pretty cool, it's kind of neat.
As you're playing, you don't think that that many people are watching. You're really not thinking about anything. But once you hear about it, it's pretty remarkable.
It's surreal still. It's amazing.

Q. You said about a year and a half ago you were interested in getting on this team; now let's go to realistically when did you think you had a chance to get on this team?
ROCCO MEDIATE: After the Open. I only had one week Top-10 this year was at Memorial. It's been a struggle and nothing was going on.
Once the Open came and they doubled up the points, here I was and whatever I went to, 15th or something, so that's right where you want to be, obviously, with another couple of months to go. So that's the only time I really -- because before that, I wasn't even thinking about it. I was just trying to shoot a score out there and it wasn't really going very well. Then it happened.
So I had some decent events after, decent, and then a decent tournament at the British which got me a few more points, and now we're here.

Q. Just to follow up, too, can you talk about your relationship with Paul Azinger?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Yeah, Paul has been a very good buddy. We played a lot together in '87 when he won his first event at Phoenix. I played with him the third round.
We just, you know, kind of here and there we lost -- we didn't hang around as much and then he got sick and he was gone for a little while and he came back. Over the last couple three years, we've got a lot -- played a lot more practice rounds, practiced a lot more together. He comes to Naples occasionally and plays at Calusa, he actually joined Calusa. So we've become pretty good friends.
He's a good guy. It's going to be a different Ryder Cup with him this year, way different.

Q. Have you been anywhere where somebody who knew you came up to you and said, "Hey, Roc, where you been, what have you been doing?"
ROCCO MEDIATE: Funny thing, I was in L.A., the hotel I was in, and Mr. Chirkinian walked up and he said, "What have you done lately?" It was funny because he was giving me the needle a little bit. That was one of the funny things.
Pretty much everybody has known where I've been as of late, whether I want them to or not.

Q. Why do you think what you did at the U.S. Open connected with so many people, and why do you think so many people connect with you?
ROCCO MEDIATE: The first part is because it was a match. It was a pretty hard-fought battle for the both of us, really. And that wasn't, A, expected -- it was wanted, but pretty much people said, there's no way; and that happened.
I don't know, I feel like that I'm just like everybody else out there; I just play golf better. A guy asked me a couple of months ago -- I forget actually how the question was asked; "What do they see in you?" And I said, "Themselves." Like I said, I just play golf a little bit better than most. But I talk a lot, and they like that.
I'm actually using them for a release of nervous energy.

Q. As much as you want to make The Ryder Cup team, is it difficult to keep that off your mind when you're playing a tournament?
ROCCO MEDIATE: No, it's in the back of your head, but I want to have another good major championship this year, and this is the last try. So the rest of that will take care of itself. If I have a good one here, my job will be done with the Ryder Cup, maybe, or maybe not. But I still -- that's the secondary thing really. I want to have a good PGA Championship, and have another shot at one of these, because I really enjoyed that last one.
But no, I'm not thinking about it on the golf course. Yeah, you think about it now, you look at points they have in front of you, and I'm enough points behind to where I've got to have a top four or five, and I still might not be good enough to make the top eight.
So it not going to affect the way I play, I hope.
KELLY ELBIN: For the record, Rocco tied for 18th at the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale.

Q. As someone who has watched The Ryder Cup from outside The Ryder Cup, not being a member of the team, do you have any theories on why the Americans who have been favored, seems every time, haven't done well? What's your theory on that?
ROCCO MEDIATE: I don't think there is a theory. It's just, it seems like the Europeans always team up really well, and they seem to be -- I don't know. I think this group coming up that we have so far, if you look at them, they all kind of know each other and I think they are a little closer.
It's just a different -- they are different over there. They are a lot closer it seems over there. I don't understand it. And they also have more fun it seems like, over the years.
Like I said with Paul, it's just going to be more fun. You have to understand, it's an exhibition match. It's supposed to be fun. Yeah, you want to beat the heck out of the guys, but in the old days, they just kind of enjoyed it, and all of a sudden the Europeans started winning and it got bad.
Back in '91 it went completely nuts; I was there. And I still don't understand it.
I think this year is going to be totally different, especially with Nicky, Faldo, it will be fun, I think. It will be a different Ryder Cup this year. Whether we win or not, I don't even know if that's the most important thing there is. It's just a matter of what you get to watch and the excitement of it.

Q. In talking to you yesterday, you said that you enjoyed coming here because of the club professional tie-in, it's their championship and you're happy to be here as well; can you talk more about that, and obviously with your connection to Eric Manning as a club professional, does that make this special because those professionals are the tie-in between the public, the connection?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Well, yeah, it's their championship, that's what it is, and the top 20 made it this year. They know going into that event that it's a qualifier for their big events. It's pretty intense stuff, it looks like.
But yeah, they are the connection of how to make the game better, and there's nothing wrong with being -- there's so many different professional things to do in golf, and a lot of my buddies at home, John Aber, who is the pro up at Allegheny Country Club in Pittsburgh, lovely teacher, good teacher, good player, and it really helps if you can play good and teach. There's something about that.
You come back from the PGA, your lesson book is probably going to fill up, because they are going to start -- not that they don't believe you, but they see the guy preaching and playing and playing really well in that arena, it's huge.
But they are the link to the public. They teach the people and hopefully they get better, that's the thing. It's actually hard. It's a dangerous thing teaching golf, because especially young kids coming up that want to be good at it or smart or be good amateurs or good professionals, you'd better make sure you tell them the right thing because you can affect their lives in a good way or a bad way.

Q. I'm just wondering, all of the attention you've gotten since the U.S. Open, has it gotten overwhelming for you?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Oh yeah, sure, it has. You just get so tired sometimes, and it was hard, especially the week or two after, I don't think I slept hardly at all. There was just so much to do.
But you know, when you sign up to do something like that, and you do well in something, that's part of the territory. So it's pretty much a learning experience; that much attention, that quick, definitely a learning experience.
KELLY ELBIN: You said earlier that you've only played nine holes practice here. Kind of your reasoning as to why only nine holes going into a major?
ROCCO MEDIATE: I'm tired. I'm tired right now. I played last July in the British Open qualifier here and the golf course is right in front of you. The greens are difficult, but they are still right in front of you. I remember them all. It's just basically, give me -- I know where the fairways are. Put the ball in the fairway and go from there.
It's not rocket science. It's just you've got to be under these holes. You cannot play from over these greens. And it's just the way -- especially, obviously it was an original Ross, so he didn't like you to go long. He hated that, actually; he made you pay. So he liked you to play short or on the green obviously.
There's no tricks obviously, just a lot of long clubs for me, and I enjoy hitting them. So hopefully they will be on tomorrow.
KELLY ELBIN: Rocco Mediate, thank you very much.

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