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January 26, 2010

Rocco Mediate


MARK STEVENS: I'd like to welcome Rocco Mediate to the media room, fresh off his appearance on CSI, and this is his first appearance back at Torrey Pines since the U.S. Open. If you'll start off and talk a little bit about that and then we'll take some questions.
ROCCO MEDIATE: My new thing this year is I'm not speaking to anybody.
No, it is my first time back, which is kind of weird because last year I was supposed to come, but my knee had a little meniscus thing that cropped up at Phoenix the week before, so I had to come and get it sliced on Monday. But it's good now, it's all good.
It's good to be back. A lot of memories already. When I got to the putting green this morning at 7-ish, I told Matthew, a little different here than a year and a half ago. So it was cool. It's really good to be back.
MARK STEVENS: And then also if you just want to say a couple things about your newfound stardom on TV.
ROCCO MEDIATE: That's you guys thinking that, I'm not thinking that. No, it was just fun. They called before Thanksgiving and said do you want to do it. I said, yeah, I'll give it a shot. It was fun.
It was cool how they do it. It's pretty neat how they do those shows. I've always watched CSI, so especially the -- it used to be CSI Las Vegas but now it's just CSI. So it was fun to do it.
And I played myself, so I'm typecast now. I can't get any other acting jobs because nobody wants me -- how many times can I play me? But it was fun. It was a blast. No acting involved, just kind of throwing a few lines out there and they filmed it a few times, and that was it.

Q. You talked about kind of different than the last time you played at the U.S. Open. The West Coast Swing used to be one of those great things with all these top 20 players, and now it's not really pulling the players that it used to.
ROCCO MEDIATE: I don't know why, because it's always been any favorite part of the year because you're kind of waiting to play after November and December. I don't know, I guess the overseas stuff and the appearance fee stuff, which takes some people away, and that's why we don't do that in the States, I guess, we don't have any appearance fees, which I like anyway. Not that I wouldn't love to go play for lots of money, but I still love this -- I don't know, I still love it over here, so I don't go any other places very often.

Q. Would you consider doing that if somebody gave you -- just a good amount of money to go play overseas?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Maybe a week, maybe, but I wouldn't let it interfere with what I wanted to play. If it was one of these weeks, I don't know that I would do it. I don't know.

Q. Kind of a follow-up to that, do you think the TOUR has to take steps to deal with this given the erosion of the fields?
ROCCO MEDIATE: I don't know. I don't know if they can. I don't know if they can do that. I don't know if they can stop guys from going certain places to make money because that's what we do. But I don't know how you fix that situation.
I don't think they're taking them away from every event, but here and there -- Hope struggled a little bit, and that's been an unbelievable event for 51 years I guess it's been. It's hard to say. Guys want to play what they like to play.
I've always thought that every couple years you should have to play pretty much every event. Not every event, but if you skipped San Diego last year, you need to play every two or three years, which I think is not asking that much. Whether it be Tiger or whether it be me or whether it be whoever, whoever, it doesn't matter where you are in the food chain we'll say, you should have to play certain events.
For instance, Farmers Insurance this week, they saved our butt. And then Zurich I was told owns them, and they already sponsor New Orleans. So these people are coming to the table for us. They didn't have to do that. It's an amazing show of how much they love golf.
I don't know, there has to be some give and take, and we need to -- something has to happen. I wish I had the answer, but I don't. But something needs to happen.

Q. You talked about this being different from the U.S. Open. Can you comment on the fact that Tiger is not here?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Yeah, that's really different. I don't know what to say about that. Any time he's not in the field, it's obviously not the best field we have. We have a great field this week. I was looking at some of the stuff this morning on the bulletin board.
You always want your best guy, whether it's any sport, doesn't matter what it is. It always makes it what it's supposed to be, especially he's won here 712 times, so it's hard to beat that guy here.

Q. Why do you think your performance resonated so much with the fans back at the Open?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Because it doesn't happen that often. First of all, Monday playoffs are usually a boring end of -- it's-over thing, and most of you, and I will say that, thought it was going to be a boring pretty quick death anyway. There's about three of us that didn't; I happened to be one of them.
So that's just one of those things that people are waiting for something like that to happen, and I didn't see that it was that big of a deal as far as what I did. What I thought was a big deal was what it did, the whole situation did.

Q. How so?
ROCCO MEDIATE: The people. The people here, the people -- I still get it every day, just every day -- it's been, what, a year and a half or so.

Q. What do those people say to you?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Just how much they enjoyed it, and thank you, thank you, thank you. I'm like, what did I do? Well, I know. But as we were playing that, of course we had no idea what the hell was going on outside in the rest of the world. It was insane, especially when the match turned sideways on -- when we turned the back nine. I know a lot of people probably turned it off after that, and then they started hearing something, and they turned it back on.
Like I said, besides Matthew and myself and a few other people, everyone else thought it was over. But after No. 10 I was extremely angry, and I said that's enough of this. I don't care who it was over there. It doesn't matter if it's Tiger. What's he going to do to me? I've said it a million times. If he stops you from hitting a golf shot, shame on me. That's my problem, not his.
But why wouldn't you want to perform and beat up the best player that walks on the planet right now? Of course I want that opportunity. I wish I could have it every weekend. It would be the greatest thing -- I'll tell you what, I'd get a lot better fast.
But especially the U.S. Open, different ballgame. Here he's going to probably beat me up pretty good, because he hits it far, and this golf course will play long, long, long this week for everybody, but for me. Opens, they run, it's a little firmer, different time of year. So it'll be a little bit more difficult this week as far as tee to green. But I don't mind hitting long clubs.

Q. Following up on that, what adjustments have you made in your day-to-day life because of your newfound recognition factor?
ROCCO MEDIATE: None, no. I still talk to people I did before. I do now, and I'll do after.

Q. Do you check in under assumed names?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Hell, no. I've got no worries about people. Like I always say, the only time you worry about autographs is when they stop asking. As long as I have ink I'll sign. Arnold taught me that. Look people in the eye.
Like I said, a great story, I said it last year, it happened last year at the Bethpage in the practice round. I don't know what day it was, it was like Saturday or Sunday before the event, so I had shorts on, a tee shirt, just screwing around out on the golf course, and I'm coming across from 14 to 15, that nasty -- yeah, 15, up the hill, and the whole maintenance crew is there. They're waiting across because it's a major road going across there at Bethpage.
And they're all like grass everywhere, sweaty, it's hot in the morning, I've got on like I said, shorts, a tee shirt and whatever. So the guy goes, "Hey, Roc, you look just like one of us," and I went, "I am. All's I do is I play better golf most of the time." So I've always felt that way, whether it's U.S. Open or any other tournament. I felt that way before that. This hasn't changed me one single bit.

Q. How have you felt about your game since the U.S. Open?
ROCCO MEDIATE: I had a good stretch after the Open, and then a few things crept in last year. I made a lot of cuts last year, but attitude with putting was bad, just bad. I don't know how else to say it. And consequently I didn't make any for basically the entire year.
That's being changed now with Stocktons, and Matthew and I talk actually quite a lot about it. But it's coming around beautifully.
So last year was kind of weird. You know, it wasn't because of anything but my attitude on the greens was what -- I got what I deserved pretty much.

Q. You're working with Ron and Dave?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Davey and Dave, Junior and Senior. I haven't seen Ronny -- I did see Ronny at Utah, but Davey Junior mostly, and I saw Dave Senior yesterday for 10 minutes on the putting green. He just happened to show up.
I know what to do, and they're -- Senior saw a couple things in my setup that just were terrible, so I had no business trying to make putts. Just changed little things like that.
But as far as the rest of it, I got myself in ridiculously good shape this December, spent five straight weeks on the VersaClimber, and I'm probably 30, 35 pounds lighter than I was last year, so I'm ready to roll. I have no worries about age or fitness or anything like that. I'm playing nine of the first ten.

Q. Healthy enough to work out?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Absolutely no problem. That's what killed me the last two years, this knee. It wasn't a big deal, but it's just I couldn't do anything yet. I just can now start squatting on it, which I still don't like to do. I read putts, I put this knee on the ground. It just bothers me.
But I'm fine. I've got no excuses, no problems. My back is fine. You take off all that weight, too, it makes a big difference, a big difference.
But I knew I'd gain the weight in two years when I couldn't do anything, because I never minded sweating and doing my work, I just wasn't able to. So I knew. I know the way I like to eat, I'm going to gain weight, simple as that. I'm just surprised I didn't gain twice as much as I did.

Q. Did you change your eating habits?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Just a little bit. Just a little bit. I'm eating a little bit better. There's some things I'm allergic to that I kind cheated on that I'm not doing anymore. So I got in better shape and I did it fast, did it in five weeks, just did an hour a day, six days a week, five weeks, done. I do things that way. I don't like to wait.

Q. Back to the Open, have you been guilty of reflecting on what could have been, or have you just enjoyed what it was?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Oh, sure, you think about -- what I think about most is the putt I hit on the 71st hole. 18 I didn't think anything about because I had to try to do crazy things to reach that green in two, I couldn't just hit a normal drive and put it on the green. I had to do something -- had to hit a big nasty hook like I like to hit sometimes. And I did a couple of times a little bit too much.
But the putt on 17, I thought when I was over that putt, I'm like, if this is in, it's over. And when it left the putter, I thought it was over, and it just carried about two rolls too much speed and went four or five feet by. But that's the one I'd love to -- if that goes in, it's over. I knew I hit a really good putt. I watch that occasionally, and I'm like, it still looked like it was going in. But it didn't.
The one Tiger made, nothing I could do about that. I thought he'd make it anyway. I don't care what it bounced over, what he had to do. If he was pitching it on the lake, I thought he was going to make it, it doesn't matter what he was doing.
You know, when I woke up on Monday, I thought I was going to beat him. I had no doubt in my mind. I wasn't scared at all. I was ready to go. I mean, I was nervous, but I was ready to go.

Q. Do you look back and think I was involved in one of the greatest shows in golf at least in recent years?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Well, I've been told that by thousands of people, and I think that's cool that they think that. It's still hard to believe that that day actually happened, that it turned out that way, that all of a sudden the man is up by three at the turn and he almost lost. That never happens.
So on that type of stage, it was a lot of fun for me. I got to see what I've learned over -- this is my 25th year, so we'll say 24 years out here, and I feel like I've learned the right stuff, because it worked.

Q. What do you think the reaction is going to be, talking about Tiger, when he does come back to the TOUR?
ROCCO MEDIATE: I think it's going to be a bit dicey at first. There's going to be some people around and probably some media around that usually aren't here. And I think once he starts to play and plays like he's going to play, it'll go away. I think there will be people in the crowds that are saying stupid things that will be removed immediately, as they should be. I think the TOUR will handle it perfectly. He'll have the people around him he needs to have, and he should have the people around him that he needs to have.
I think it's going to be tough on him, but I know -- it's like I've said a million times, whatever the problem he has is, and we really don't know, we're just hearing what we hear, but he'll fix it. I haven't talked to him. I probably won't talk to him until I see him again out here. But I can assure you of one thing; if it's broke, he'll fix it.

Q. Do you think the TOUR misses Tiger?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Absolutely. Absolutely. You always want your best guy. Our TOUR is fantastic from the top to the bottom. There really isn't a bottom, but we'll say from the No. 1 guy to the No. 150 guy. It's a fantastic -- we're the best at what we do, period, in the entire world. But when you don't have the best guy there, it's not as good of a field.
You know, everybody wants to win when Tiger is in the field, everybody. If you don't, you need to find a new job, because you don't belong here.
If I was Phil, the way Phil is -- from what I understand feeling and playing right now, he needs him in that field. I would think that's what he would think. I don't know, I could be wrong, but I don't think I am. I'd like to think the best guy -- I'm going to get beaten a lot of the times, but you never know, there's a couple times it might not happen.

Q. When he comes back on the scene, do you ignore the elephant in the room, do you say, hey, Tiger, what you been doing, or do you say, what the hell were you thinking?
ROCCO MEDIATE: You're not going to say, so what have you been up to? You're not going to say that. But I think we'll bring him back -- what Arnold taught me over the years is we're like a fraternity; we're all like fraternity brothers. Whether some guys like each other or not, you respect the position.
I've always been a Tiger fan. I always will be a Tiger fan, I don't care what he does. He knows what he's done; he knows he's wrong; he knows he's trying to fix it. That's all over and done. But when he comes back, he's just one of us. He's just one of the guys. He's a really good one of the guys. But I'm not going to treat him any different.

Q. You said that Phil needs him. Why in your mind?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Because it pushes. When No. 1 and No. 2 are in the field, No. 2 wants to beat No. 2. No. 1 doesn't want to let No. 2 beat him, period. Now, Phil doesn't need a lot of push. Phil has got his own drive. He'll be fine. But if he wins five of the first six events and Tiger is not in the field, is it better to win five of the first six events when Tiger is in the field? Who cares, but -- it wouldn't matter to me, okay. I'd love to have Tiger in the field.
But I guarantee you the top guys want him. They think -- I think there's one thing that people are missing. They think he's going to be vulnerable when he comes back. I don't think he's going to be vulnerable when he comes back. I see these things -- it's available, the No. 1 spot is available. He's still the No. 1 guy; it's not available. As long as he's breathing, it's not available.

Q. Do you have a sense of when he'll be back?
ROCCO MEDIATE: You know, who knows? I thought he might surprise everybody and show up here. I don't know. But like I said, I haven't spoke to him, anybody in his whole deal. I haven't seen him since last year sometime. I don't know, it's hard to say. Is the divorce happening? I don't know if that's happening, either. If that's not happening, he may not be back for a while. If it is happening, he can't fix it.
I would think he'd come back before Augusta, I don't know. Who knows? It's probably a great line in Vegas. You never know what they'll probably bet on over there. I guarantee you there's someone betting on it.

Q. Do you think he'll still catch Jack? Do you think that's available?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Here's what I think, and this may not go over well: But if he fixes his golf swing, yes, I do. How's that? If he doesn't, he still probably will, but it's going to be harder. The guy is ridiculous how good he is. You've seen it. He's won every single way there is, hitting it perfect, hitting it all over the golf course, whatever. He's done it all.
I still think he's going to do it. But if he makes a few little changes in his golf swing where that club is more up and down instead of sideways, it's over, once he's driving it where he wants, because you've got to drive the ball in the fairways in these big gigs. People say St. Andrews is wide open. But, there's like 350 bunkers. Now, when he won in 2000, he was the straightest, longest driver on TOUR just about. Of course he's going to hit it where he's looking. He's not the straightest, longest driver anymore. There's the difference. That's my opinion.
MARK STEVENS: Thank you, Rocco, for taking the time. Good luck this week.

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