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June 23, 2010

Mark Calcavecchia


THE MODERATOR: We welcome Mark Calcavecchia to the interview room for the 2010 Dick's Sporting Goods Open. You touched a little bit on it at Memorial that you were looking forward to the Champions Tour. Now you're our newest rookie out here on the circuit having turned 50 on June 12th. Maybe just start us off with a few memories of coming back here for this event, and we'll talk about your plans on the Champions Tour.
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: I did. I played here I think all the way from '82 to '86. Then I guess I came back in '93, but I don't remember it. But I do remember some of the early years in the '80s. Shooting a round with Bill Sander, back in the day when we used to run together all the time.
But I do remember having a really good time here. I think it was in '82, I think, I finished 13th and made $6600 bucks, which at that time seemed like $600,000 to me. I thought I was loaded.
That's kind of how times have changed a little bit. I don't know what 13th's worth nowadays, but it's a lot more than $6600.
I remember the course well. There are a few changes. I haven't seen the new 16th hole. The last time I was here it was a par-3, couple of greens I don't remember being like they are, 4th green and 8 and a few others. But for the most part, all the holes are in the same spots.
And the course is just in awesome shape. It really can't get any better. Probably as good as any course I've played all year, honestly, on any TOUR. They've done a great job there. It's tight. I'm looking forward to it.
I feel like I'm driving pretty good, so we'll see how my putting goes. If I putt okay, I should have a good week, I'm looking forward to it.

Q. I guess you've been looking forward to this for a while, right?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Yeah, I know everybody here with the exception of a couple of guys that I haven't really met. But, you know, I'm just kind of looking forward to a little bit of a stress drop. You know, when you kind of get on the wrong side of the cut line out there on the PGA TOUR, like I've been, though I made probably half of them in the last year and a half, every week is kind of a struggle.
Going into any tournament, my goal was to make the cut. I remember back in my so-called heyday that was never really an issue. It was just how high up I was going to finish, and how low I was going to shoot.
Obviously, as time goes on, those things change and just battling that cut line every single Friday was a nightmare. When I made it, it was almost like I was out of gas. It was like it was out of the question to have a good weekend.
So I mastered the tie for 55th or whatever it was, and that's no good. So for that reason, I was looking forward to getting out here, knowing what my schedule's going to be, knowing that I could go pretty much full blast for all 54 holes, and see what happens. That suits my style, so that was one of the things I was definitely looking forward to. And seeing a lot of old friends, and being out here with guys I know.

Q. Your son's your caddy?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: My son, Eric, is my caddy. He's 16. He caddied for me twice last year in the Canadian Open and the Buick. So he actually was part of PGA TOUR history when I made the nine birdies in a row last year, so that was pretty cool that I did it with him caddying.
He's a good kid. He just got out of summer school in Phoenix, which was kind of a nightmare for him, but it taught him a lesson, I think. So hopefully he'll be able to avoid that again.
He's actually a good hockey player. He doesn't spend a whole lot of time golfing. We golf Sunday at the TPC at Scottsdale, and we teed off at 6:06, which is about the only time you can play out there. By the time you get to the ninth hole, you're baking anyway. By 7:30, you're on fire. So golf's not real popular with my son in the summer.
At any rate, he's going to caddy for me next week, too, and my wife and daughter are coming in tomorrow, so it should be a fun time.

Q. I'm sure you're picking the brains of these guys out here, but what are your expectations out here?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Well, everybody told me I would love it. Everybody says the golf is still super competitive, which I know it is. But everything else is a little more laid back and a little bit more relaxed, which is what I need.
My expectations this week, I really don't have any. I could finish anywhere between first and 78th. I don't think I'll finish last, but you know, you never know. So I'm just going to go at it as hard as I can for 54 holes and see what happens.
I'm just starting. I'm not putting pressure on myself to get off to a fast start. I'm not going to say I better have a Top 10 or I'm going to get upset with myself. That's not the case at all.
I've got 12 or 13 tournaments the rest of this year, and that's quite a few tournaments. I'm sure somewhere along the line I'm going to have a shot somewhere. So this week I'm going to go out and have fun and just add them up at the end and worry about expectations later.

Q. This is only a three-day tournament. Does it add more pressure to be good on that first day?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Exactly, there is. You know, they told me first round is very important. If you shoot a couple over, you've pretty much shot yourself in the foot, because some of the tournaments you get 20 under pars to win, and other ones that are 15 or whatever it is. But you can't shoot par or worse on the first day and expect to win the tournament. So I know the first day's important, and it's important to get off to a fast start. So, yeah, I agree it is an important day.

Q. Have you picked up any strategy at all?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Not really. In order to shoot a good round the first day, you have to be aggressive, and that's pretty much my strategy all the time anyway. So every week on Friday on the first round, I'm going to pretty much be looking for birdies.
You know, kind of the conditions, obviously, if the weather's horrible or the course is really tough, or what have you, then just kind of par might not be too bad. But for the most part you need to shoot at least 3-under the first day to kind of get yourself into the flow of things and keep the pedal down all week and all weekend.

Q. (No microphone)?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: I wouldn't say I'm in awe, but am antsy, so to speak. I'm a little nervous. I don't want to fall on my face. Though I have no expectations, I don't want to finish 70th or shoot over par every day. So I'm a little antsy in that sense.
I know Joey, for his first couple tournaments, he didn't play well at all. And his caddy, Johnny Buckman said he was flat out nervous. I can kind of understand that a little bit. I'm sure I'll be nervous as hell on that first tee on Friday, probably as much, if not more so than any tournament I've played in a long time because it's important it to me. I want to play well. I want to get off to a good start. So, yeah, I understand what he means by that. I'm feeling it a little bit.

Q. Can you talk about playing in your late 40s. What was it about your game that you felt dropped off?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: You know, that's a good question. For some reason my ability to score just became painfully average in every statistic. Over the last year and a half, you look at all my stats, and I'm just right in the middle of everything - driving accuracy, greens. My putting has been bad. I'm down at the bottom of that. But tee to green I'm still fine.
But I could just -- it seemed like I'd hit four bad shots a round and make three bogeys and a double on those four holes. I just kind of lost my neck to shoot the low round of the spectrum of the score I could shoot.
The best way I could describe that is Peter Costas told me Bernhard Langer, if he's playing between a 68 and a 72, he's going to shoot a 68 every time. If I'm playing between a 69 or 74, I've been shooting 73 or 74. So I'm kind of on the wrong end of the range of the scores I should be shooting. Mainly I think most of that is because of putting.
But having said all that, I feel like I'm putting good now. I put one of those Fat Grips on there, and I feel like I'm putting pretty good. And it's a confidence thing. I haven't shot any good scores lately. 71 has been my low round since Puerto Rico which is over three months. That's not very good. I'm not exactly lighting it up in the red.
But having said all that, once I fire that first 65 or 66, I could be off and running. So it doesn't take much. It doesn't take much with me. I've always been up and down. When I'm on a good streak, I can go pretty low.

Q. Doing what you've been doing for so long, there is a good competitive fire inside. When did you get going and know you could fight every week and win?
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Well, that's part of my excitement, knowing there's not 156 guys or 78, and some of them are getting up there in age. Obviously, I don't want to ruffle any feathers, but it's going to be easier to win out here than it is on the PGA TOUR. That is no secret. And my odds greatly increase to win a tournament out here.
Somebody said years ago winning never gets old. I see how excited Bernhard Langer gets when he wins, and Bernhard doesn't get too excited about anything. So, you know, it's still huge to win. It's still fun to win. When I get my first win out here, it's going to feel great.

Q. Mark, good luck this week?

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