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June 2, 2009
MARK STEVENS: I'd like to welcome Rocco Mediate to the media room. Go through your practice round. Go through your thoughts just coming into this week and then obviously in a couple weeks leading up to the U.S. open.
ROCCO MEDIATE: It's always been one of my favorites. I think it's most of our favorites, Jack's tournaments.
It's absolutely fabulous again this year. Last year was huge because I got a little confidence coming out of here. For Torrey Pines. It's always good to be back.
I grew up three hours from here. So it's kind of like being home. Sorry about the Cleveland Browns and the Steelers for our entire existence. Sorry. Not my fault.
MARK STEVENS: Any questions? Go ahead.
Q. Do you use this as a prep, a serious prep for the Open? Some aspects of the course approximate the U.S. Open? Do you think some aspects of this course can still do that?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Sure, it's obviously still a great test. Green-wise and pro shot-wise, absolutely. The fairways were a little wider than most because of the slope here. So it has to be wider.
As far as preparing for the Open, it's a great place. The rough is a little high. It's not as high as it was last year, but you don't need it much here.
Bethpage will be the same. They make the rough really crooked. Just off the fairways here.
I have trouble playing out of any rough. It doesn't matter how high it is for me. I'd rather stay on the fairway. I can't do the rough. Go ahead.
Q. What is your memories of that at Bethpage? Indicative of the crowd and the people here?
ROCCO MEDIATE: The crowd is going to be completely nuts. They were nuts then, and it's going to be great. I love that aspect of it. Last year at Torrey, it was pretty good too, especially on Monday. It will be loud out there. It's going to be great. I just hope the wear's good.
Q. Do you remember anything in particular, things people said to you? The course buzz.
ROCCO MEDIATE: Well, it's just they're very proud of that place. You know, like I say, you hear stories. People sleeping overnight and all that stuff. They're very proud to have it there. It happens to be one of the best golf courses ever built.
So you have that aspect. And some of the stories -- I was playing with Sergio the last two rounds last time. You know the story I'm talking about.
I remember when he did that, I kind of went, he probably shouldn't have done that. What do you mean, he said? I said, you'll find out probably for the rest of your career coming to New York. He'll never forget.
Q. This was at his peak?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Obviously, he's fixed that since then. But it's just that way. I mean, it was amazing -- that was a day it just poured down rain. We're sitting at the 17th tee, and you literally could see the water running down the 17th green. We were expecting them to call it, but they didn't. It was fine. Everyone was playing.
It was really -- it was just some kind of place. And then obviously what Tiger did there. It was kind of a battle coming down, but not really. When it all ended up, it was pretty much over.
I'll still never forget that 2-iron he hit on the 14 -- 13, I believe. The par 5. I believe it was 13. Never forget that shot. 270-some-odd yards. It's a great venue. It's going to be great.
Just a 2 iron, no big deal really.
Q. Rocco, do you feel as if with the Open approaching, that this is a chapter that's nearing an end? Will there be a sense of some relief?
ROCCO MEDIATE: No, I don't want any relief. I want to get back in this hundred percent again. This chapter, this book just started. There's no ending.
People will always remember that. For whatever reason they have, it was just something that it was really cool to be a part of. It's just hard to believe it actually happened like that. It was just really a neat week, a neat day on that Monday.
But, no, I don't feel like -- I haven't done anything this year really. I've played very consistently mediocre since then. Living in the past, blah, blah, blah, they all say.
I've hit good enough to compete in certain events, and I hope I continue to hit as good as I am now for this week too.
The Open is two weeks away. You think about it sometimes. I can't wait to get there and all this stuff. I know that this week and especially that -- the Open week, because I'm not playing Memphis, all about striking, period.
That's what we have to do. Hopefully, I can continue that. I'd love to have that opportunity. It would be a heck of a chapter two. You never know, though. It's hard to do. Very hard to do.
Q. Less rough. Substantial change to this course than what it was a year ago?
ROCCO MEDIATE: You don't need a lot of rough here. Last year the rough was pretty much unplayable. I don't mind either way. I'd rather see them play with rough myself. But the furrowing -- the hardest thing about the furrows was the fairway bunkers. The greens were easy, but the fairway bunkers were hard.
But they're supposed to be hazards. They're not supposed to be comfort and easy. And you see us somewhere. Why did they rake that? They didn't used to rake bunkers. If you look at it that way.
I don't know if the course needed that. I think Jack wanted to try it to see what would happen. I'm sure change is good.
Plus rough, it's going to rain today and that's it?
MARK STEVENS: Slight chance.
ROCCO MEDIATE: If it doesn't rain today and gets dry towards the weekend, fire will come back because the greens are soft. They're not soaked. But ten minutes away where I was last night, it was pouring. They're perfect. Golf course is as good as it's ever been. I think we say that every year. It's always really good.
Q. So basically, the greens are easy to get up and down?
ROCCO MEDIATE: It depends on where you are? Short side here, you pretty much -- it's hard not to make some kind of putt. On certain areas, in the right bunker or the right area, you can pitch up towards the hole.
In certain spots, long on any one of these greens is pretty much toast.
Jack and his friends' golf courses are done. Tillinghast is that way and a lot of old school guys. Once you play from short. Not a lot of places but a lot of places.
Q. Is that going to be the same at Bethpage? That's a Tillinghast course.
Q. Everything front to back or back to front. Tilted one way or the other. They didn't like you to go past the end of your green. They didn't -- you're not supposed to be happy to go on some of these greens.
But Bethpage, same thing. The bunkers are about the same. Very deep bunkers too. It's definitely a great preparation.
But I would never say I'm using it more to prepare for the U.S. Open. I'm using the Memorial to try to win the Memorial. I'm not concerned about two weeks from now.
I think that's kind of like -- I don't know what you want to call it. I wouldn't want somebody saying that about my tournament. This isn't the preparation. It's just a great event.
Q. What was it like having your story written down on paper? Was it emotional?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Yeah, because sometimes you can just -- some of the shots John and I talked about, I don't remember what was going on at that period of time. I just reacted to what I saw.
I just remember a lot of those feelings. You know, don't remember a lot -- I remember the shots I hit, but you just don't remember what was actually going through your mind. It was so -- it was just so cool.
In that situation, there was something special about it. You can call me crazy. It wasn't a normal day for me. It was too big of a prize to -- I don't know how to explain it.
It was too big of a prize and a really big challenger to try to do that. It was really it. That's what you want. I want to try to do that again some.
But John is unbelievable. I get to see why his books are as good as they are. Not that I've read them all, I won't lie to you about that. Because I don't read a lot. But some of the research he did. Like I said, I found things out about myself that I didn't even know. But it was a lot of fun.
Q. Can you give an example?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Just about what a couple of my friends thought about it. He made a great comment, Frank. He said, we always wondered why Rocco always thought he would make it. We never could figure out why he always -- it's even better than that.
I mean, it's totally David. I forget what exactly it was. Something like that. I always wondered what the heck he was thinking about if he's going to be a professional. Why would he think that? And in a way, he's kind of right. I just happened -- something happened, and I'm still here.
Q. That's on the bookshelves then?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Uh-huh. Since May 18th. I think it's sold 60 million or 70 million copies already. It's on its fifth printing. No, I don't know. But it's been great. It's been fun.
Q. If that was true, I would have heard it from Feinstein.
ROCCO MEDIATE: I know. It's been a lot of fun. A lot of people have given me feedback. It's fun to hear people you don't know. People you do know like it even if they don't. People you don't know saying they enjoyed it, it's great. It's just a lot of fun. It's cool to have that.
Q. In the article with the picture showing you being knocked out basically. Did you like that idea? What is your reaction?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Oh, it was just fun. When I got to the place, the guy who owned the gym was a boxing instructor. He goes, all right, Rocco. I'm going to show you some poses. There will be no posing. I'm just going to stand here and look around.
Turned out -- I saw it. I looked at it briefly a couple weeks ago we saw it. It was fun. It was just fun.
Q. What's your attitude towards the whole thing? In your position, are you frustrated and angry with yourself getting that close to a goal and have it get away from you? What does this say about you? How do you approach it?
ROCCO MEDIATE: All's that I could do that day, that week, but especially that day, was, A, enjoy the moment because it's a moment that neither one of us had before and neither one of us may never have again as far as the type of playoff for a National Open. It just doesn't happen very often with him. So something I've always wanted to have before I got done was to try to beat him again on Sunday or whenever. You knew it was going to be a playoff.
But in any tournament. Didn't matter when it was. So all's I could do that day was see how what I learned the last 24 years on this tour and from the people that have taught me.
At the end of the day, or end of the -- you know, a couple days later, I looked back on it, and I passed with flying colors. Because everything I tried to do -- with the exception of a few mistakes that we're all going to make. You just can't play perfect.
But everything I've worked on and learned and tried to find out what other guys thought about, it worked. It just happened to be him. You know, and the things that he did to get there were miraculous. Just period. Because I really -- I got beat, but I didn't bogey the last four.
Now, if I bogeyed the last four holes or tripled or whatever to lose the tournament, of course it's going to devastate you. But that was not the case.
That was all I ever wanted to do was try to finish something that I started. I almost did. Like I said, what he did to get there was silly. You know, but it's Tiger. That's what he does. That's why he's the best.
You can't say anything more about him. That's what he does.
Q. There's always been this feeling that a lot of guys paired with him, eyeball to eyeball, tend to always blink first. It seemed like it brought out the best in you. Why do you suppose that was?
ROCCO MEDIATE: I've always felt you either play your best golf with him or your worst. I've always played my best golf with him, always. If you look back at the times we've played, we've been really close.
Not that I play a lot. I always wanted -- it's like you want to show him that you can play. You know, does he want to shoot 63 and win by 10? Probably. Of course he would. Why wouldn't he?
But that wasn't going to happen, especially with all the stuff I heard throughout the media -- and rightfully so. You can call it what you want. The funniest thing, like I said, was he doesn't know what he's gotten himself into. Yes, I did. That's exactly what I've been waiting for my whole career. I know exactly what I've gotten into.
He has nothing to lose. Yes, I did. I lost the U.S. Open trophy, what I covet most in my sport.
So I don't know why it goes the other way because I've always felt, why would I play any differently with him? It's going to be more exciting, which I love. It's going to be noisier, which I really love. And it's going to be just a totally different circus-like environment, which I absolutely love to play in.
Q. It commands your attention than your average.
ROCCO MEDIATE: I don't want it to go -- here's your 14th, just take this. That wasn't going to happen. There's no way it was going to happen.
When I woke up on Monday, I really thought -- I told Cindy, I can beat this guy today.
And there's no reason why -- because I didn't get in that situation by accident. You know, I did a lot of things well that week. Why can't I do it on Monday, especially in front of him?
You know, because I know the U.S. Open, I knew what it would take, and I was right. I just happened to tie. Anywhere from 65 to 72 wins the golf tournament on Monday. Or 63. I knew that would win, but that wasn't going to happen. More than likely.
I don't know the answer to that question. I knew, if I was one of the top couple players in the world, I would want nothing more than to play against him every Sunday afternoon. That's what I would want to do.
Whoever wins, who cares? Show me what you've got. I wanted to show him and show everybody else what I had. I knew I could do it. It's just I had to do it. I knew the ability was there.
Q. Brings up another thought to me. You talk about people shrinking, but you don't shrink. You just really come up the easy way. I've covered your first one on the U.S. Open.
What is it about you that you don't shrink when the giants of the game come around?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Because you don't get an opportunity to do that very often. You know, in that situation, that was the ultimate as far as I'm concerned that I could ever get myself into.
Yeah, did I want to win in regulation? Of course I did. I did everything I could but birdie the last and we're tied. I figured one of the two of us would birdie the last. It just happened to be one.
I don't know why. I just want to try -- I don't have an answer. I wish getting myself in that mindset to where -- I don't know how to explain it. It's more fun for me to have that. I'd love to be put in that situation every weekend because I think I'd do good. I just don't get there very often lately.
Therein lies the problem. But I love the fact because everybody thinks they're going to get killed. I like to prove to the world I'm not. It's pretty much that simple. I don't care who it is.
But especially there. That was a cool situation to be in. I remember pretty much every single feel and smell about that day. It was just it.
MARK STEVENS: Any last questions?
Q. What is it about this tournament that you don't play this to prep for the Open, you play this to win this. You said it's a special tournament. What makes it special?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Just it's Jack's Tournament. It doesn't get a whole lot specialer, if that's a word, than that.
You know, he takes care of us. He takes care of the cad DIs. The people. It's just great. Fans love him. I've been coming here since '87, I think, was my first year. I was 11 when I first played. It isn't that funny.
Anyway, I've been here like 23 years pretty much I've played here. I've missed a few for injury and stuff.
But this golf course is one of the most special ones we play all year. It's our best conditioned golf course of the year, in my opinion. We have a lot of good ones. They're all good, but this is just one step.
So that's what makes it special. To have his ability to win this tournament would be -- it's like the greatest thing about it. Those are two -- it doesn't get any better than that. They ask for me, especially -- it's just everything is taken care of from the time you get here until the time you leave. The golf course is perfect.
It's just a great event. It's just like a major pretty much. It's run just like that.
I'm not surprised. Why wouldn't he want to run it that way? He's the man.
Q. Rocco, you talked about the condition. I know last year there was the setup with the high rough and the furrowed bunkers, which are pretty much gone.
ROCCO MEDIATE: Here we go. Okay.
Q. Now, you played?
ROCCO MEDIATE: I just played this morning.
Q. What do you think of the course now versus what it's been the last few years?
ROCCO MEDIATE: It was fine last year too. Like I say, if you don't like the bunkers or the rough, don't hit it in either one of them. And stop complaining. It's fine. The golf course is fine this week too.
I mean, it's perfect. The furrowed bunkers was definitely odd. It was different. No one's ever really done that. I think Oakmont had it back in 1900, whatever it was.
But so what? If I only I have to hit out of fur owed bunkers, I'm going to complain. But everybody does. Everybody has to get out of the rough to get in there. The furrows are pretty wide here. It's the widest fairways all year.
Yeah, we're going to miss them. I'm going to miss some too. My God, they're big. If you're in the rough, too bad. Deal with it.
Q. Have you noticed on the tour this year the staff backing off on the setup from what it's been?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Some courses, like for instance, Wachovia. We played that when the rough was only a couple of inches high. That course doesn't need it because the pine trees come into play. Scoring was almost the same this year as it was last year, I think, and the rough was 12 feet high.
It was this high. I couldn't play. No one could get out of the rough last year. That's okay. It's okay to switch it up a little bit. Next year we might get a long rough. So what? It doesn't matter. Here, like I said, if you have no -- if you cut this golf course at all fairway, you would still find a whole different -- I don't know if it's going to change that much either.
With the trees and the creeks and the bunkers, you can almost do anything you wanted here. So either way, as far as the setup is, he's given you monster fairways out there. Monsters. So there's plenty of room to drive in.
So I don't know. I don't know how it's going to play much easier because it's still high enough to where you just can't take a shot out.
You've got to bounce, and once the greens firm up, that's what it's all about. Give you something to drive. Then he narrows it down. That's the beauty of this golf course. That's why I love it.
It goes from wide to narrow.
Q. Just to go back to the Open, I'm curious how often you've watched. Is it Sunday only or Monday?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Occasionally, I'll watch. My youngest son was in L.A. with me the last two weeks ago. And we watched some of the shots because he likes that. I don't watch it all the time now. I do go back and look at some of the swings I've made and some of the putts or whatever.
I want to see what was going on that week and how I progressed or not. I definitely look at it for that because, like I said before, under the ultimate examination, you get to see what you have.
I've looked at a lot of those swings and, you know, especially coming in on Sunday and then most of the day on Monday, and I was pleasantly surprise.
So that's really what I do with it. You know, I don't watch a lot of -- I don't watch it over and over, but just certain shots. Certain shots that hit, and I like to go back and check on it and see what's going on.
It definitely helps.
MARK STEVENS: Rocco, thank you for spending the time with us. Good luck this week.
End of FastScripts