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January 28, 2009

Mark Calcavecchia


MARK STEVENS: We'd like to welcome Mark Calcavecchia to the media room. Mark is a three-time winner of this event. If you will start out and give some general comments on being back here and thoughts on your game right now and coming into this week.
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Thanks. It's always great to come back to the Phoenix Open. One of my amateurs today asked me, "What's your favorite tournament to play in?" Of course my first answer is always "Whichever one I win or play good in" is usually one of my favorites. But I thought for a second. Other than majors, which are not always fun to play in, I'd have to say the Phoenix Open, especially when the weather is like this. You've got these crowds out here. 16 is just -- it's a fun tournament to play in. I really do enjoy it and I've had good success here. It's going to be a heck of a week.
The course is perfect. I've never seen the greens this fast. They're pretty firm, and the fairways are narrower and the rough is thick. I don't think the scores will be crazy low this year.

Q. You've had some arthroscopic surgery. Can you give us an update on what the injury was and the surgery and how things are now?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Yeah, it was October 14th. It's been bothering me since the first week of June. Well, to make a long story short, the bottom of my foot had been bothering me since February, and then I think finally my knee pretty much gave out in June. Then it completely gave out up in New York at Turning Stone.
I had my medial meniscus, I had a tear in that, they trimmed that up nice, smoothed out my kneecap a little bit. It really wasn't bad at all. I never needed crutches. I was up walking around. Three days later we went out and went to a movie and dinner. So it wasn't like it was a debilitating type of thing.
However, I did get in some pretty bad swing habits because of it. I've been working with Peter Kostis a little bit, and a lot of my problems that I had last year were because of my knee. I'm trying to correct those, and the knee feels pretty good. Not great mind you, but really from the knees down are my main problem right now, and of course from the neck up is always a problem, too (laughter). And my belly could be a little smaller, too.
Other than that, I actually feel pretty decent.

Q. Do you have any special regimen that you have to go through because of your knee as far as limbering up in the mornings and all that kind of stuff?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Yeah, I kind of do. I get on the floor and I carry around a foam roller for my back and try to stretch as good as I can, you know, before I play. I am seeing a new chiropractor that seems to be helping a little bit over the last couple weeks, and every day is getting a little bit easier. I'm kind of playing my way into shape, so to speak, as far as -- when you haven't walked for three months and you get out and you're standing on your feet for six, seven hours in a row, for me it takes me a little while to kind of get into that. So I'm actually playing my way into playing shape a little bit better than sitting around all winter.
I'm starting to feel better every day. Of course, it will be nice to play golf tomorrow with two other pros for a change. Jesus. Five days in a row of chops (laughter). Four days at the Hope -- mind you, they were all a bunch of nice guys, but I've seen enough bad shots in the last five rounds I've played to last me all year.

Q. Ginn Resorts just announced that they're ending all sponsorship dollars. That puts two tournaments into jeopardy, Cristie Kerr's endorsement contract is immediately ceased. How much apprehension do you feel and do other players feel about what the future holds?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: There's some concern, for sure. I mean, everybody understands money is -- the way things are going in the economy, things are tight for everybody, including Ginn and all the other huge companies. I mean, I think we're lucky to have the sponsors we have out here.
My concern now being 48 and a half is how many tournaments are going to be left on the Senior Tour in a couple years. It seems like they're losing two or three a year.
I think the PGA TOUR is going to be fine. We have a good product out here, but it's a concern. I think everybody is a little bit worried about it. I don't know how worried Tim Finchem is, but he doesn't outwardly come out like we're in danger of too much.

Q. On a lighter note, how much does it count for you coming into a place where you have a good track record?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: That's always a good thing. You know, when you come back to a place that you've won before or when you're defending champion or whatever, you have good vibes. A lot of times just driving on-site -- it's like Royal Troon. Last time we played there, I couldn't hit a wedge on the green, and I somehow finished tenth because my attitude, everything just shaped up when I got there.
Same sort of thing when you come to courses you like, like here. I started playing better on the back nine. Like I said, I'm working on a few things. That's a whole 'nother story. But I actually putted pretty good today, so I'm excited for tomorrow for sure.

Q. You mentioned being 48 and a half. How much tougher does it get playing with guys like Villegas, Kim, those kind of guys, for you every year?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Well, I was roughing up Anthony Kim this morning at breakfast. He just turned 23 and he couldn't play last week because his shoulder hurt. Give me a break. He lives there. He could have toughed it out, swallowed a handful of Aleve and let it rip. I don't remember any injuries when I was 23, or 33 for that matter. They didn't set in until about the day I turned 40.
But Camilo and Anthony and those guys are certainly -- they're going to be in the Top 10 in the world for a lot of years to come. I'll stay play a few tournaments here and there out there. I don't know about a couple years, but I will definitely give it a whack on the Senior Tour, Champions Tour, whatever you want to call it, and I won't miss them a whole lot.

Q. Have you ever tried the Villegas method of reading a putt?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: If I got down that low, it was because I fell down or passed out, one or the other. No, my knee would snap if I tried that. You'd have to get a stretcher for me.

Q. Do you have your schedule from here on?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Yeah, I'm going to play quite a bit, like I always do. I'm not going to play next week, but I'm going to go to AT&T and LA, then a week off, then head to Florida and do three out of four or maybe even go to Puerto Rico if I don't get in Doral. Historically I've always played a lot up through the Masters, the first three, four months of the year, and then I also kind of seem to have a little bit of a slow period in the summers. I'm not a huge super-hot-weather player. I'd rather play in 40 degrees than 100 degrees. Not too many guys would say that. I'm just not a real big heat guy. And then a lot at the end. So there probably will be somewhere around 25 tournaments this year.

Q. What majors are you exempt for?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Just the British and I guess the PGA, but I'm not in the Masters and the U.S. Open yet. But I can play my way into those or I can -- well, the Masters, you can't qualify for that, but there's a qualifier for the U.S. Open, so we'll see.
That was kind of the end of me actually after playing at Muirfield and then doing the 36-hole U.S. Open qualifier; that's when my knee went south. I tried to limp through Memphis and the U.S. Open and I was hurting the rest of the year after that.
MARK STEVENS: Thanks, Mark, for being here.

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