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June 1, 2010

Mark Calcavecchia


THE MODERATOR: Welcome Mark Calcavecchia to the interview room. Mark's going to be making his 23rd consecutive start here at the Memorial. His wife, Brenda, is actually from Columbus, went to Ohio State, I believe. So you have some great ties to this tournament and this city. And then, obviously, you're going to be starting your Champions Tour career here real shortly at the end of June, at the Dick's Sporting Goods event in New York.
So lot going on. Maybe comment about this tournament, what it's meant to you, and moving on to the next stage of your career, and we'll take some questions.
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Actually wasn't even sure where this media center was. I think the last time I was here was in 1987 (laughing), for the Ryder Cup. But I've always enjoyed playing here. I was obviously very, very happy to be given an exemption into the tournament.
Dan Sullivan called me a couple weeks ago. I always wanted to play. Luckily throughout my career, I never needed exemptions, and they actually gave me one last year as well, I needed one. You know, I come and play here for several reasons. You know, the first being Jack Nicklaus, obviously, has been great to me since I was a little kid when I moved down to Florida.
It's definitely one of our best courses, if not the best course, we play every single year, number two. And also, you know, meeting my wife here in 2001, right about 20 yards that way, so it's a lot of special things about coming here and playing that I love. So I'm happy to be here.
People have asked me, Are you done, done? I'm done this year. I'm going to play all champions stuff after this, but I've still got two years of career money exemptions left, so there's still plenty of probably PGA TOUR events for me to play in, just not the rest of the year once I do use my career money exemptions.
But I'd say for the most part I'm 90%, you know, full-time Champions Tour player now. And it's a new challenge I'm looking forward to and excited about.
THE MODERATOR: Good. Thank you. Questions?

Q. What are you most looking forward to?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Just a lot of things. A great change of pace, for one. New courses, new towns, you know, new holes to screw up. Tired of screwing up the same holes every year.
New hotels, playing with my friend that's I've been playing with out here. I know everybody. That will be nice not to have to go to the range to crank my head to look to see who that kid is over there to try to see his name on his bag. I know everybody out there.
The relaxed atmosphere of it, everybody tells me it's a lot of fun. The golf is still super competitive, which, obviously I know, and we all know the kind of scores they shoot out there and how good everybody is. So I know the golf still you've got to play great to win or even to contend, you still have to play great. So that doesn't change.
It's just I think the whole atmosphere and nature of the TOUR will kind of allow me to be more relaxed and more comfortable. When I get in that mode -- and I'm excited about it.
I think over the last year, year-and-a-half my enthusiasm for golf has gone down a little bit as you kind of struggle. Every week I struggled to make the cut, and that just gets tiring. So I think my enthusiasm level will go up once I start shooting some good scores, it will even go up higher. One thing will lead to another, so I think that's probably what I'm excited about the most.

Q. When you see the numbers, 700 tournaments, do you get blown away?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Well, the amount of money I've made, that's all gone, so that doesn't blow me away at all. I mean, it's all gone. I don't know what happened to that. Yeah, 700 and some-odd 30-something tournaments I've played in, that is a lot. That's a large number. To have made 520 cuts or whatever I've made now, you know, that's a lot too.
It seems like I missed more cuts than that, but I guess as it turns out I made 70% of my cuts or whatever it adds up to. I did have a stretch there in my prime where I'd miss three or four a year out of 25. So it kind of added up. It added up nicely, and that's a lot of tournaments.
It's gone by fast, obviously. It doesn't seem like I've played that much. But I still get excited about coming to play and waking up Thursday mornings and getting ready to go play in a tournament. It's still fun. So that is another reason I'm looking forward to it. I plan on playing a lot.

Q. Does Freddy inspire you at all?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: I hope he's going to run out of gas or lose interest. He'll probably lose interest before he runs out of gas or he'll injure himself. But I don't want him to do that. I know his back is tender, and I know about his physical problems. But he's played great. There is a confidence thing that I'm talking about. He kind of came out relaxed and started making putts right off the bat in his first tournament, and it just snow balled for him.
There is no doubt he's playing great. I mean, Corey Pavin played great last week, and Tom Lehman, and all these guys. Like I said, I've played a ton with them, and I know how good they all really are. So I have to get out a little bit of a lull that I'm currently in. I'm hoping when I get out there and get a little bit of momentum and kind of start shooting some decent scores, that will happen for me.
If it happens in the first week or two, great. If not, it may take a little time. I don't know. But I'll be ready to go.

Q. Do you look ahead to the schedule and research where you'll go or do you just go okay, next week I'm playing?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Pretty much that. You know, I think this year they've got 25 tournaments of the last 12 that I'm going to play, I've actually played six of the courses. So part of it I know what I'm getting into as far as the course goes, but the other places will be new.
As far as next year goes, I may play a few TOUR events. I hope to play the Phoenix Open for a few more years, and the Honda, my two home tournaments. And of course, the British Open for ten more years, God willing. I'm good there till I'm 60, and then a few more.
So if I just do that, that's still five TOUR events a year for the next at least two, three, four years. But as far as the Champions Tour goes, I'm probably just going to play it. I don't see why I wouldn't. The good news is you can plot your flight in, plot your flight out. There are a lot of advantages about that.
There is a lot of uncertainty that disappears with being able to set your schedule and knowing exactly when you're going to get there and leave. That's kind of nice too.

Q. As you're coming to the end of the PGA TOUR. (Indiscernible) how do you define your legacy and the type of guy you are?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Well, when I watch guys like Ricky Fowler's super young, but some of those guys in their late 20's that are starting to play well now. Like Jeff Overton, for example. And I'm not good with pulling names out of the hat, but I kind of went back the other week and thought that's kind of right when I started.
I kind of look at them and go, wow, where'd this kid come from? I really didn't think he was that good. Then all of a sudden, maybe it's just being 27 and just coming into your own and finding your game or whatever, and that's kind of basically what happened for me.
I kind of find myself thinking probably a little what some of the guys that were 50 years old when I was 27 were thinking like, who the hell is this kid? But that's kind of right when the age where everybody really starts to get good. There are obviously exceptions, you know, Ricky Fowler, and the kids that are in their young 20's and what not. But the middle 20's to your late 20's, those kids are really good.
So I kind of think that's where I was at way back then, and that's kind of what I think of them now. As far as what they think of me, I hope they thought I had a good career. Matt Every, evidently, I was his idol. That's kind of funny. Till I got him DQ'd in Mexico when I goofed up the scorecard. Well, actually he got himself DQ'd because he didn't look at it. But he did make me feel old when he told me that he had pictures of me on his wall and stuff, but I don't know.

Q. Part of your personality also is you're outspoken, not afraid to say anything. A different sort of mold in that sense than a lot of the young guys. Do you think you need more people cut from your mold?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Maybe a little bit. But I just kind of think that's the way the TOUR is now. It's definitely more of a big business, serious business you know, when I was young. We stayed out later. Kind of the older version, we kind of went out and didn't worry about it too much. Now the kids are going to work out, and going to the gym and whatnot. It's just a little more serious.
There are a lot of kids that have a great sense of humor and are very funny. Sometimes it's just hard to kind of get it out of them. But I just think that's kind of the sign of the times more than anything. Kind of my era, you know, Kenny Perry, and we've always been friends and out going, and Lehman, and we're all the same page, and Azinger. Kind of guys that seemed to me to be real funny guys. Now it's just a little bit stiffer of a TOUR, there's no doubt.

Q. When you first broke in, how many years did it take?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: My first five years was kind of tough. On again, off again. Until finally, you know, I kind of got over the hump in '86. But I think when you're that young and you're just kind of hoping to get in tournaments, you don't think about what's going to happen 25 years down the road or even ten years or five years. You're just kind of going along and going okay, great, I got it. Or, okay, great, I got my card back.
Then every week you're just trying to get by. And make enough money to stay out here. The PGA TOUR is where you want to be. I think that was my thinking when I was 24 or 25.
Then once I started winning a couple tournaments, you know, my first two or three tournaments in '86, '87, '88, then I knew that I wasn't going back to TOUR School. I knew I was good enough that I was going to be around a long time, and that is the last I thought of it.

Q. You were on the doorstep of winning a championship, do you have any regrets as you look back?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: A few. I mean, I may have regrets in a couple two, three years. But right now I should have kept myself in better shape, which is still the case. I should have won more tournaments. I should have practiced harder, a lot of should haves. On the other hand, I had a great time. I'm incredibly lucky. I stop to think about all the things that I've been blessed with, and I just had a blast.
So for the most part, no, there's not too many regrets. I'm sure there's, like I said, some tournaments that I gave away that I didn't need to. It would have been nice to have 20 wins or something. But 13, 20, whatever, it's been great.

Q. Do you have any expectations for the year?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: I always have expectations. I'm not like Tiger where I'm not going to show up unless I plan on winning. There's not many of us that really have that. There might be ten guys playing in this tournament that the only reason they're here is because they plan on winning.
A lot of us come here with the hope of winning or expectations of winning, or playing well. A lot of us don't think about winning when we get here, but we do think about playing well. As the week goes on, confidence, again you kind of say, okay, I'm playing good. You know, let's just keep going and see what happens. Next thing you know you're on the back nine Sunday.
You're like, damn, if I make a couple birdies on or an eagle, I could win this thing. It kind of happens that fast. So that's kind of what I'm hoping for. I mean, I'm hoping for a good week. I've made a few -- I've practiced well, I'm hitting it fine.
I put one of those big ass grips on my putter. It's about this big. My hands barely fit around it, so I'm like -- trying that. I don't know. I'm putting good right now. We'll see what happens Thursday (laughing). The grips called the Fatso, by the way, so I thought it was aptly named. But it's big.
K.J. Choi's been using one for a while. It's about twice that size, so we'll see.

Q. Out of all your wins, which one do you think about? The British Open, the first win?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: There are a couple of them. But obviously, the biggest win would have to be the British Open. I still remember it well. Everything that kind of happened that whole week. It was one of those things.
My first win was in '86, and oddly enough I started in 1986 with no status at all on the TOUR. But I started working with Peter Costas in '85, and played in some mini TOUR events. Spot qualified for a few. Qualified for the U.S. Open. 65 at Shinnecock, on and on, and Ted May gave me the exemption into Hartford. Next thing I knew I made enough to get exempt for the rest of the year, because I made more than the 125 to 150 in that zone.
Three weeks after that I won the Southwest Classic. So that was pretty -- I remember that well, too. Everything I did that week. Kind of as time went on, I kind of was winning every three years, it kind of seemed like. Just when you don't think you're going to win anymore, and then you sneak up and win. Then I got older. I hadn't won in four years.
So to answer your question, the Canadian Open in '05, was probably my second biggest win. Being the fact that it was at a great course at Shaughnessy, I was 45. I hadn't won in four years. Had a pretty dismal '04 for me. Those three: The British, the Canadian, and my first win were probably the three I remember the most.

Q. When you reach a point in your career where you feel like I've actually learned to play the game. I know what I'm trying to do now. As you look back, what are the dumb things that young college guys do and don't do just being dumb?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: On the course mainly?

Q. Yeah.
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Well, there are a few off the course things, but those go without saying. You know, we've all done those at some point or another.
I guess you just kind of figure out. I played a big hook -- most kids hit a hook. Back then with wooden drivers and the equipment back in the late '60s, and middle '70s, up until the middle '70s, through being a teenager and what not, I hit a big hook.
And I always hit it plenty far. Nobody hit it farther than I do, because I hit a big hook, and I was a pretty big kid. But I had no idea where it was going. My talent got me through junior golf, high school college, mini tours.
Then on and off on the TOUR for five years. That's when I started working with Costas and realized I needed to hit more fairways. And today it's still a huge part of my game, and a lot of other guys games, too. If you don't hit the fairways, you're behind the eight ball right off the bat.
So I think nowadays, because everybody hits it so far, it seems like more guys are going to the cut off the tee I've noticed. You know, the equipment, the technology, the ball's going so straight. It's easier than it used to be.
Having said that, I think the reason why I was so good, was my short game was so good. Back then the ball curved a lot more, and everybody hit it all over the place, which was fine. So did I, my short game was so good, that it was a total advantage to me because of that. I think that's one of the biggest differences now also.

Q. Talk about going places you've never been? Do you almost look forward to that?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Yeah, exactly. Sometimes it's exciting and kind of fun where you've got to feel things out and get the lay of the land, as I say. I've never been to Montreal. I guess there is the week after the Dick's Sporting Goods, there's a new senior event in Montreal. So that will be fun, and a few others I haven't been to.
Then again, after the British Open, as The Senior British at Carnoustie, which will be great, then Sahalee, the U.S. Senior Open right after that. So there is familiarity there also. But I think more next year I'll get to the areas where I haven't been, and that will be a lot of fun too.

Q. You're on a bunch of Ryder Cup teams. That's about as much pressure as you can have. Can you talk about that?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Yeah, the pressure is, I think, the greatest there just because we don't play a team event very often, if ever. Well, now, more because of the Presidents Cup and a few other small things.
When you have your country and your teammates and your wives and everybody out there all dressed up the same, yelling and screaming, and the crowd kind of getting into it, it adds to the intensity. When we lost here in '87, I wasn't sure what I thought of it. It was kind of a bummer we lost.
Then, '89, when we tied them, and four of us went in the pond on the last hole, including me, and we didn't get the Cup because they won it in '87, that's when it really started getting interesting. Then all of a sudden we didn't like them, they didn't like us. I mean, how can you not like David ferrety? Nobody liked David Feherty. It was like, screw Feherty. It got to the point where nobody liked anybody. The crowd kind of sensed it too.
But, yeah, it was definitely interesting. It was a strange place at that time for a Ryder Cup. When I first went there to play it in a practice round, it was nothing but sand and dirt. I'm like, you've got to be kidding me. But they pulled it off. And, you know, that will probably go down as one of the most famous Ryder Cups.
Now it's still, I think, a much more friendly battle now. But it was finally good to see us win last year. I love watching it. It was fun being a part of it, but I actually may like watching it even more because it's a little less stressful. But it's fun to be a part of.

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