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July 16, 2009

Mark Calcavecchia


MALCOLM BOOTH: We're joined by Mark Calcavecchia, 1989 Open champion. Mark, very solid opening round at 67, 3-under par. Off in the first group this morning. Take us through your thoughts on the round today.
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Well, when I got up on I guess it was yesterday morning, I looked out the window and started praying that today was going to be as good as yesterday was at 6:30 in the morning, and it was.
The weather was perfect. It still is. There's no wind. The early doesn't bother me; I get up early no matter where I'm at or what country I'm in. I was ready to go at 5:00.
I played well. I hate to say Turnberry was easy, because it's a really hard course, but if you're going to shoot a good score out there, today was the day to do it or is the day to do it.
I played well. I only hit it in the hay, the deep rough, once on 3, and I had to hack out, and one bunker. Other than that, hit a lot of greens and made four birdies and a bogey. So great start, for sure. I'm happy with it.

Q. Last year obviously conditions were very, very different. And did you have to hunt around for a caddie at the very last minute, and is your wife on the bag this week?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Well, I love the early tee time, but I guess more times than not, it's probably a better tee time than 2:00. But you just never know here. And when I woke up last year at 4:30, I woke up to the sound of driving rain hitting the window. I was like, That doesn't sound too good.
She wasn't feeling well, anyway. She's actually sick this week, too. But I just told her to -- I didn't want her out there in that. It was nothing more than that. It was just -- the weather last year was probably more than a lot of professional caddies can handle, and she didn't need to be out there in that. That was all that was.
I picked up a guy. I didn't even go to the range. I got around in 6-over, which I think was better than average in the morning. And I ended up missing the cut, but that's just one of those deals where the weather was just brutal.
This year we pretty much determined that she's -- there were articles written and some of them bothered her, but it was nothing more than what I just explained. And no matter if it's like last Thursday tomorrow, she'll be out there. So you can count on that. She'd go 36 a day if she had to, so she's pretty fired up.

Q. Greg Norman was in yesterday saying that he thinks the groove changes might actually give the older guys next year a better opportunity to compete with the younger ones. But if you look at the leaderboard this morning, the more senior members of the field seem to be doing all right anyways. Is this a golf course that gives guys like yourself a realistic chance to compete?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: I don't think the course has anything to do with the fact that some of us old guys are playing well today. Tom Watson can obviously still play really well. And I had my moments. I'll be the first to admit I'm not as good as I used to be.
But the new grooves next year, I've already hit a set that Ping made me last week. I'm not going to probably use them until the end of the year and start practicing with them. But I think the main difference you're going to see is in the wedges. I think the only advantage we'll have maybe over some of the younger guys is the younger guys have never hit this kind of equipment or that kind of groove. So it might take them a little bit longer to get used to than some of us wily old veterans.
But I don't think you're going to see much difference. I think mainly with wedges and shots around the greens is where you're going to see the difference.

Q. As a champion of 20 years ago, could you just give us an idea of how your approach to The Open has changed?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Well, my thoughts of winning have pretty much gone out the window as time goes by. I won the Canadian Open in '05 when I was 45 and the PODS in '07 when I was 47. I'm 49 now, and I still play really well. My back's an issue. However, it felt great today. The 36-holer we had to play at the John Deere on Sunday, I don't think anybody would have even finished the way I felt. I was pretty much in full-blown spasm the entire second 18. So that one hurt me.
But I took Monday off, played Tuesday and took yesterday off, basically, so I felt good and rested. I felt like I know the course. It's just the first round. It's a long way to go, but I'm here, and I'm here because I love playing this tournament. It's my favourite tournament. I've always told people -- the question, what's your favourite place to play or what's your favourite tournament. Well, the British Open. The Open. It's my favourite. So I just love this tournament.

Q. When you were in pain on Sunday, did you feel it wasn't going to be possible to play at any stage?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: I did. I was contemplating actually not coming. Not seriously, but it did cross my mind like if my back's going to feel this bad, why travel all the way over there and put myself through that. But then again, if it had been the Scottish Open or some other tournament other than this one, I may have not come. But, you know, once I got done I took a few more Aleve and a couple of beers and I was okay and got on the plane, and several more beers went flowing down. The next thing you know we were landing (laughter), I felt pretty good on Monday.
MALCOLM BOOTH: You made four birdies out there today. Can you just take us through them. The second.
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: The 2nd hole, 3-wood off the tee and 6-iron to about 30 feet and made that.
7 was a great birdie. Hit a driver and hit it in the second bunker on the right, which of course is just an L-wedge, hack out, and then I hit a 6-iron for my third to about eight inches and was able to make that one. Sometimes it's in doubt.
11, hit a great hard 7-iron about six feet right behind the hole and made that one.
And 17, I got these new -- Ping has these new G15 hybrids and a driver that I threw in last week. I've never used hybrids in my life. I watch the Senior Tour and I see those old guys out there with all kinds of wicked-looking 4-, 3-, 2-irons that they're hitting straight up in the air into these par-5s, so I figured I'd better learn how to hit them. Sure enough, I got a 2 and a 3 G15 hybrid in there that all of a sudden I'm loving.
I hit the 3-iron into 18, I hit it great, too. At any rate, had about 246 and hit a 2-iron, whenever you call them. I don't even know what you call them, I don't even know what you call them, in there about 15 feet and just missed it, just missed it.
I made a nice par on 18, kind of flamed a 3-wood over there and hit the 3-iron on there, the 3 hybrid on the front edge and two-putted.
It was fun. The weather was perfect, two great guys to play golf with in Michael Campbell and Paul Broadhurst. It was very enjoyable today.

Q. Have you stayed in touch with Kenny Green over the years, and have you talked to him?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Oh, yeah, we have stayed in touch over the years. And he's been through a lot, obviously. He's got fitted for a prosthesis, went down to see a guy in Orlando a couple of days ago. He's still in a lot of pain.
But now that his right leg that was amputated is starting to feel a little bit better, he all of a sudden figured out his left ankle was killing him, so he had an MRI on that and he's got some torn tendons and ligaments in that. Evidently they might be able to fix that somehow without surgery.
It's going to take him time, but -- I actually had a dream about him last night. And he already had his -- I swear to God I did -- had his prosthesis on and came over to the house and so it was pretty cool.
He's going to play golf again. That was his whole decision. He could have saved the foot and the rest of his leg, but it would have been in and out of surgeries, and it would have been just kind of a limp foot. He could never have played decent golf again.
He asked the doctor, what do I got to do, so they amputated and he'll play golf again. And he fully intends on -- however long it takes to get back out on the Champions Tour and play some golf again.

Q. 20 years ago how would you have gauged your talent level versus Kenny's?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Well, he won first. He kind of got over the in awe -- he's a couple of years older than me, of being on the PGA TOUR and playing golf with Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson and Tom Weiskopf and Lee Trevino and whatnot in the '80s. And I was still kind of struggling, and he won in '85. It kind of showed me if he could win I could certainly win, because I always thought I was better than him anyway.
But he was pretty awesome in the '80s, late '80s. He had the best short game around. And we had a lot of -- we played a lot together and practised and had short game competitions and things. As time went on, he -- we won't get into all that. But a couple of bad marriages and things like that, and here he is today in the predicament he's in now. It's been a rough go for him. He's going to surprise some people and do something good.

Q. Two things. One, the timeline from the end of the tournament on Sunday to getting here; and secondly, you said, well, your days of winning this might be over or you're not looking for it, and I can understand why. But most guys say, I don't enter a tournament unless I think I can win it.
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Well, most of those guys are Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson and whatnot, although he entered the -- that shows you how good he is, he entered the U.S. Open last year with a broken leg and he still thought he was going to win.

Q. But you believe in yourself?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Well, sure I do. And I'm going to play in this tournament until I'm 60 because I love it.

Q. Can you also say why you love it?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: It's just the atmosphere, the fans, the crowd, the stands, for lack of a better word, the unusual accommodations you end up with sometimes (laughter). I wouldn't want a steady diet of it, just like links golf. But it's fun. The beer is very tasty. All kinds of reasons.
At home we never -- there's 8 or 10 or 15 of us over here in the Duel in the Sun Pub over there having bar food and drinking pints, and you never see guys in the States. It's like if you do, it's by pure accident. So everybody sits around and yuks it up, and it's almost like I've become better friends with Lucas Glover and Boo Weekley and Matt Kuchar in the last three days and 10 or 15 other guys that have been in there than at home. So just a lot of different fun things about this week.

Q. What was your schedule when the Deere ended and what time and how did you go and when did you get here?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Well, I actually had plenty of time. I was second group off, because they went on threesomes off of both tees. So I got done at like 4:30. And the plane was supposed to leave at 8:00, but I know that wasn't going to happen because Steve Stricker didn't get done until 7:00. And he had time to shower and go through all the media and trophy thing, so we ended up leaving about 9:30.
I just went back to the hotel and showered up, laid around, watched it on TV. And took our time, went to the airport, and everybody kind of started getting there. They put a nice little room together like this. Sat around, and everybody got on the plane, and we landed I think at 11:00, and hopped on the because and right to the hotel. So it was real easy.
Came down here and registered, walked around, went down to the tent, just kind of stayed awake, walked around, but just took it easy. I got up early and played with Tiger and O'Meara -- well, they joined me on 4 on Tuesday, so it was kind of fun.
And here we are today. Feel good. Feel rested and looking forward to the rest of the week.

Q. Two parts. The first one, you said earlier you've kind of essentially given up all thoughts of winning tournaments; you don't think you can win this tournament. The second part is, your group got around in four hours, five minutes, and the second group behind you weren't anywhere to be seen. I wondered how you were able to get around in such a good time.
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Well, Michael is pretty quick, and Paul is not slow, either. I said to Michael Campbell on 15th tee, what happened to the group behind us, and I'm looking around and they were back there on 11 green or something. And I'm like, well, thank goodness we're in front of them, not behind them, that's the good news. I don't know what they were doing back there. Jeff Overton was behind us and he's fast, but I don't know who else he's playing with, unless they lost a ball. Anything can happen. So something might have happened, they got behind.
We didn't hurry. We weren't in a hurry, obviously. We had the whole course to ourselves and we just played our own games, our own speed in four hours and five minutes. It kind of makes you wonder sometimes how it can take five hours plus for three professionals to play golf. It's frightening, really.

Q. Do you think you can win this tournament?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: I'll let you know in three days or two and a half days. I could. I could. It's highly unlikely, but when I'm here next year and the year after and the year after in my 50s, I mean, does Mark O'Meara think he can win this tournament or does Tom Watson think he can win? I don't know, maybe they do. They're possibly mentally stronger than I am. But I certainly don't think about it on a Monday through Friday or Saturday.
If I'm leading after Saturday, then, okay, you know. Evidently Greg Norman thought he could win last year, and he probably should have, as it turned out. But anything is possible.

Q. You alluded to coming back here in your 50s. But how much regular Tour do you want to play in your 50s? I imagine with the Canadian back at Shaughnessy in '11, that would be a tournament you would think you could win?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: The only drawback to that -- yes, I would love to go back there. But having said that, as the schedule is now, the Senior British Open is the week after this, and I don't know how long that's going to continue to do that, and that might be opposite Shaughnessy. I have a decision to make, because I certainly want to play in that, too.
Next year it's at St. Andrews and the Senior Open is at Carnoustie. It would be awesome to be over here for two weeks.
My days on the regular Tour are certainly dwindling. The thing is I have two career exemptions on the career money list. So I'm going to have two years where I can play either Tour. I'm going to be fully exempt. I can use my top-25 -- so when I get to 21 or 22, I'd better use it, otherwise I'll just waste it. And then I can go back and forth or -- we'll figure it out then.
When I turn 50 next June, I doubt I'll play any other -- other than this one, any other tournaments on the regular Tour. I'll probably just -- maybe one or two, I don't know. But mostly senior stuff and then we'll just kind of hunt and peck and check out both schedules and see where I want to play.
I'd love to play at home in Phoenix and the Honda for another two, three, four years, and maybe a few others, but we'll see.

Q. Can I ask, is your wife happy with you playing with a bad back, and does she sort of try and help out with the problem? I guess she can be a bit more helpful some caddies maybe?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Yes, she can, actually. She understands. She's starting to get a few aches and pains herself, and her hip is killing her. So she's so used to hearing me bitch about all my aches and pains, and now she's finally getting a few.
She makes me do some things. I went to see a doctor; the place is called Spine and Sport. So we're trying to -- I finally know what's wrong with my back and I'm trying to make some adjustments to my setup and things where it takes a little bit of stress off my lower back. So there's small steps I'm trying to make to ease the pain.
But the bottom line is I'm not in physically in good enough shape. If I was stronger, my core and all that other stuff we talk about, losing a little weight will certainly help, but that doesn't seem to be happening (laughter). So I've got to just work around it I guess and just hope for the best.
I'm not sure what the cart rule is out there when I turn 50 and how much I can ride and how much I can walk. But I can play all day in a cart. It's just the walking and standing that just gets my back to aching.
And it doesn't go into spasm that often, it just flat-out aches all the time. And when I sit and rest -- when I go out and play at home in a cart, I'm golden. So we'll see.
MALCOLM BOOTH: Mark, well played today. Thank you for coming in.

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