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January 25, 2011

Rocco Mediate


MARK STEVENS: Like to welcome Rocco Mediate to the interview room. Rocco, got a great pairing this week, you and Tiger.
ROCCO MEDIATE: Yeah, it's fantastic.
MARK STEVENS: Playing here for the first time since the '08 U.S. Open. Talk about your thoughts and we'll take some questions.
ROCCO MEDIATE: It's funny how that pairing happened, huh. What a shocker. The computer had a glitch. No, it's going to be fantastic. I haven't seen him in a while. I haven't played with him since '08. It's been a long time, so it will be a lot of fun.
I always enjoy his company and his game, and the people that follow him. And all the excitement, loudness, and screaming and hollering, I love all that stuff. So hopefully I can perform well enough.
It's always fun to play with Tiger. I've said many times, the excitement level goes to the moon, and I was telling Matthew today, my caddy, I said I don't know how this sounds, it may sound weird, but when you're playing with him, the focus becomes better. It should be the same every day, but it really isn't in my case because you want to be able to hang in there with him. Because you have to assume that he's going to really come out and ready to go this year and play good. You have to assume that knowing him a little bit.
So it's going to be cool to be back his first round here, and I can't wait. With Anthony, too, they're both fantastic players. So it will be fun. I'll definitely be hitting first on most of the holes, I can assure you that (laughing).

Q. Before we get to the golf, I see you have your Steelers colors on?

Q. I wonder if you have any messages for my New York readers?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Oops (laughing). Yeah, here's what I think about that. I'll tell you about that. When people ask me how I'm playing or how's my game or whatever, I always say, well, I guess we'll have to find out Thursday. I'm prepared, but sometimes that really doesn't matter, especially at my age. They just need to be quiet and let their game do what they're supposed to do.
What did Pittsburgh say last week before the game? Nothing. Yeah, whatever. But they spouted off after the New England game, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And I said to Matthew, by the way, Matthew's going to be in this a lot, I said the game will be over before halftime, and I gave him 14 points in the half. He disagreed. I won that bet too.
The second half was like shooting 40 on the front nine. You're probably going to shoot 1 or 2-under on the back just to make it look good. That's what the Jets did, sorry. I'm a Steeler fan through and through, I hate all the other teams.
But the Jets did a great job, obviously. They did. Back-to-back AFC Championship games, seriously. But talking like a Pittsburgh fan, that's what we say. But most of the time we don't know what we're saying. It's all by the heart. But I think Green Bay will be in for a little surprise. Three and a half point underdogs? I don't think so.

Q. Steelers opened at it and went the other way in a hurry.
ROCCO MEDIATE: That is the last thing that Pittsburgh needs to hear. It's like saying that you're going to go out tomorrow and kick Tiger's butt. You don't say that. That's something you don't say.
No matter how good you're playing or how bad or how good anybody is, that's basically what they're saying about Pittsburgh. You're underdogs; you can't win. We'll see about that. I think it will be a much better game than you think.

Q. You said that you assume Tiger will play better this year?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Absolutely.

Q. Why?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Because he's Tiger. He's tired of seeing what he's seeing. He'll fix it. He'll definitely fix it. He's not going away. I still think he's the best player. I don't care what the rankings say.
He's had a little bit off year. A lot of things happen, we all run into those weeks or months or years for that matter of not being able to get it done. Even him, he got to feel that. I guarantee you he doesn't like it.
There is no way he'll stay where he is. He's always going to come back. If he starts driving his ball straight, he'll beat Jack's record. You can't stop him if he drives on the fairway, you can't stop him. We'll see. We're looking forward to seeing him, too.
But I think he'll be fine. You just can't keep those guys down. They just won't deal with it that long. They'll just go forward.

Q. Surprised us all with a win last year.
ROCCO MEDIATE: What do you mean, surprised us all? Everything was so -- okay, I surprised myself too. It was -- Matthew and I talk about it all the time. I holed out four shots from the fairway. Pretty much a hole in one then three shots from the fairway. Pretty much made every putt I looked at for three and a half days and still had to make a five-footer. It's hard to win out here. But I tell you what, it couldn't have come at a better time I tell you that.

Q. You were mentioning in the TV interview that everything's gravy now for the rest of the TOUR?
ROCCO MEDIATE: It is. It's like I have a free pass, we'll say. Not really free. I took a lot to do that. But the work ethic has gone up even more because I'm healthy, so I still have more.
I'm not going to just hang out for two or three more years. That's not going to happen. I mean, I hope not. I hope I'm going to do what I've been doing and get ready to go. It's only been a couple three, four months since the Fry's. So I'm going to get in one of these big ones eventually again.
But this Thursday and Friday will be fun for me. I'd like to play four straight days with him. If he's playing really good like I'm thinking he's going to be, I'd like to be around there on the weekend to see what happens. It's what you want. You want to be with the best guy to see what you've got. Sometimes it doesn't turn out so well, but at least you're in there.

Q. Does '08 seem like yesterday or a million years ago? We were talking about how much has happened in Tiger's world since then. He's divorced, had a kid, all the other since then.
ROCCO MEDIATE: Yeah, it doesn't seem that long ago. There's a lot of memories from that week for me, 99.9% really good ones. The only bad one was the outcome. Getting to the outcome was fantastic. But, unfortunately, I got beat.
But it made me better, I think. I had my problems, obviously after that. But I didn't want this, the U.S. Open here at Torrey to be my last anything. You know what I mean? I didn't want that to be like -- albeit it was cool and great and everything, but I still lost. That still kind of stuck in me. It was like I don't want that to happen.
Then San Jose, Fry's happened last year in the middle of October, and it's like that's not the end. It's like, yeah, I lost the U.S. Open, but I came back a couple years later and won a golf tournament on the PGA TOUR. That's really cool to me, and I'm not done yet. I know that for a fact.
I mean, it is amazing, Matthew and I talk about it all the time, I can't believe that happened because I was pretty much dead. I was dead in the water. I had my application to TOUR School. I was ready to go play a practice round in Bayonet down there in Monterey on that Wednesday. But it was too cold so we blew it off.
Thank God I didn't have to do it. I'm very fortunate. It was awesome. And I get to be here and I get to be in a pairing, a category that pairs me with the man.
We can't forget about Anthony, because Anthony's pretty good himself. So it will be fun to put it up against those two and see what happens. I really can't ask for anything else.

Q. You see these commercials of the young guns against the old guards, stuff like that. Is that just marketing or does that exist in the locker room and on the course and things like that?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Oh, yeah, Fowler. I've talked about Rickie a lot. I love him. He's just what we need. A breath of fresh air and can play his butt off. See, there is the difference. He has the look, but he backs it up with numbers.
Anthony's the same way. I'm forgetting other young players. But there are a lot of really good young players. But experience does do something for you.
This is year 26 for me. It's different, but these kid when's they come out, they know what they're doing. When I came out, I had no clue what I was doing back in '86. I learned to play on the TOUR. You don't get to do that anymore. If you're not ready, you'll get stepped on and thrown out the door, and these kids come out gunning.
I think it's cool, we need that. We need people to keep picking it up and try to get after Phil, and get after Tiger, and get after all the top guys because that's what you're supposed to do. You're supposed to want to be with these guys in the final round or the first two rounds or for that matter.
You want to see what you have against them. It's the greatest test you could ask for. It's like a great pitcher went after a great hitter. If I was a great pitcher, I'd want to go after the great hitter every time. Hopefully he'd want to come after me, you would think.

Q. Rocco, in light of what a great week that was in 2008, are you a little surprised the USGA hasn't rushed back to Torrey Pines for an Open?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Yeah, a little bit surprised. Because what did we shoot? We shot 1-under par for 72 holes, and that's what Opens want. You want to be a couple under par or a couple over par. That's what they like to see. The golf was perfect weather, if you remember. It was like this, a little windier. That's all we could get done was 1-under par.
I thought it was a great venue. There was a zillion people here, and the playoff was ridiculous. It was the coolest thing I've ever seen, so I'm surprised.
I think they'll come back, but I thought they'd come back before -- I don't know when the last -- I thought they'd come back before '20, myself. The people went crazy here. They came out in droves. The cool thing about it is it's primetime in the east. That's really cool.
Yeah, I'm surprised. I'm sure they will. If Mike Davis has anything to say about it, they'll be back. I thought they'd be back sooner though.

Q. Two and a half years later, what stands out the most about what Tiger did? Maybe the putt on 18 to tie, just playing on the one leg?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Well, playing that injured. But someone like him is so good he can get the ball around no matter what he's up to, right? And the way he putts and pitches the ball, that's where you win golf tournaments. He's won them both ways, sideways and down the middle and everything.
The putt on 18, he made a great comment -- and obviously I had a feeling he was going to make it. I really did, because unless it was 80 feet away -- which you still might think he was going to make it, but being 15, whatever it was, I don't know how long it was -- but what he said was all I could do is hit the best putt, make the best move I can make on my stroke, and that was it. But he does that all the time. And this time it went in like it usually does. He usually makes crazy things like that happen.
So that was a pretty big memory because I had a feeling that my score wasn't going to be enough. When I didn't bury the last, I thought that one of those two would birdie 18. I figured one of them would birdie 18, and I was right, so.
So that sticks out, what he did on that back nine on Friday. I think it was Friday when he shot 31 or 2, or 3 or 4-under par. If he shoots even par, he's done. But that's what brought him back from the dead, because he was all over the place. He was hurting.
On Monday, there was never a mention of it. He looked pretty good. He just is a class act on the golf course. A total class act. Love playing with him.

Q. Wanted to get your take on this rash of DQs over the last come three weeks. Whether you think that's a fixable scenario, and how you would stop it from happening? Is it just on you guys to know the rules and that's the way it goes?
ROCCO MEDIATE: It definitely is. Camilo back at Kapalua, that was just kind of a reaction to he wasn't saying if I move that divot out of the way I'll get a better lie. It's just kind of a -- we do what Dustin did, that's just you don't think. That happens and under the gun.
Yeah, you can say that was really dumb or stupid. But you don't think about what's going on. Once you do it, it's too late. And what Camilo did -- and I was talking to some of the officials that week on Saturday morning, I guess it was at Kapalua on the range there -- if he had gotten the phone call before he got finished, two-shot penalty. He doesn't care. He knows. I mean, he handled it beautifully, of course, I mean, Camilo is a good dude.
So it would be cool because -- people calling from the tee, watching the telecast, it would be cool if there was like a timeframe to where I didn't know I did it. He didn't know I did it. But then they call it in and you're out. But how do you govern that? It's almost impossible because what if a guy calls in the next morning?

Q. Statute of limitations?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Yeah, there's got to be something. I don't know if the USGA would go for that. They have to change the rules, we can't do it. I don't think. We don't want to have our own rules on the TOUR. Golf is golf, so I don't know how they could do it. But it was kind of weird.
And, you know, Dustin's was just a mistake that he made. It was a bunker, what are you going to do and that was the end of the gig.

Q. (No microphone).
ROCCO MEDIATE: What happened last week?

Q. Put his coin behind the ball that was on the green, and it moved this far. High Def TV, you can tell, it got called in, and he signed his card and went from a shot off the lead to being out of the tournament.
ROCCO MEDIATE: Yeah, see, remember the thing about the scorecard thing back at the British Open. They're going back to it this year I was reading about that. That's silly. But those are the rules unfortunately.
It would be okay, now that TV's involved. Back when they made those, they didn't have TVs. I don't know. You just don't know. It would be good if there was some time though, I think.

Q. With these rule things, does it ever make you want to pop open a rule book and brush up on things, or do you feel like you know them pretty well?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Well, I'm not going to lie to you and say I know all the rules, because I don't. I know the normal ones that usually we get into, like against the grand stands or lateral hazards, yellow hazards, all that normal stuff.
But if there is a problem, a weird problem, you've got to call. Because nowadays with all the money we're playing for, just like you said, Harrington one out of the lead, he's gone. What if he wins? What if Camilo get that's thing done and he wins? You don't know. It's huge what's going on right now.
Most of us know the rules, but not like we're really supposed to. I was done studying in college. I don't do that stuff. The basic ones we know, most of the time.

Q. Listening to a few players come off the south, they say it's playing very firm. Especially because you guys are very used to soft. Is that kind of a U.S. Open-esque, you're probably going to need the help?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Hey, wait, wait, wait.

Q. You admitted it yourself. You admitted it.
ROCCO MEDIATE: I'm okay with the 3-woods into par-4s every once in a while, but not on this golf course. Yeah, I played the south. I played nine on the north yesterday, and nine today. The ball's moving forward, but the rough is also 14 feet high especially on the north. I haven't seen the south yet, so it's kind of a give-and-take.
For me, I like it because I hit driver off every one. And if I drive straight, I'll have a lot of shots to the green where I can put my ball closer to the hole, hopefully. So it definitely is better.
I'd rather be like this than soaking wet and cold. I'm old, what can I say? I can't move the ball out there. I never actually moved it out that far. But if it's firm, I'm fine. It will go plenty far enough off the tee. I don't care if I have 5-irons or 7, it doesn't matter to me. But I'm glad it's firm. It's cool. It's cool.

Q. If Tiger's coming back to his old form, are we going to see it in fairways being hit?
ROCCO MEDIATE: My opinion, whoever that's worth a crap to or not, if he gets it and starts driving his ball where he's looking, the game is over. Trust me when I tell you this. It doesn't matter who is there.
If he's hitting iron shots in from the fairway. Say out of 14 he hits 10, 11 fairways a day, which here it would be remarkable for anybody to do that, by the way, a perfect driver. You can't stop this man.
Call it what you want. I've seen it. I've been around it. I've studied it. I've seen it all. But if you put him in the fairway, as good as he putts, as good as his short game is, good luck. Good luck. That is the problem he's had.
When I look at statistics, I watch what he's up to and watch guys play, watch guys practice. If he can get the ball back on the fairway, Tiger will become Tiger again.

Q. What about the putter? Those stats were down too last year?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Difference, having a lot of par putts. See, it's a whole different ballgame when he starts missing a lot of greens and a lot of fairways. It's hard to play nowadays even for him.
But his stroke is fine. Everyone's trying to find -- if he gets the ball back in front of him, he'll be right back to where he was before in like a minute. It's just that simple.

Q. When you talk about Tiger, you talk from the perspective of a guy who has played the bulk of your career in the Tiger era. Do you think some of these young guys who have just come out in the last couple of years think the same way that, hey, if he does this, it's over? That you and other guys have lived with this for a dozen years?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Yeah, has he been vulnerable over the last year or so? Yes, we've all seen it. Does that mean he's always going to be that way? Absolutely not. He will figure a way out. He will evolve and do what he's got to do to figure it out.
Like I said, I haven't talked to him. I don't remember the last time I talked to him. But watching stuff on TV, you can't assume that he's going to be bad ever. He's just too dangerous. On a course like this this -- especially where he basically won eight or seven or eight events here, I don't know how many, it's ridiculous. No matter what he's up to, he's still going to get it around most golf courses.
But I would hope that some of these youngsters aren't thinking that they can kick his butt. Because if he doesn't happen to get wind of that, it ain't happening. You just don't make anybody more angry than they already are, except for the Patriots. I mean, the Packers. They're going to lose (laughing).

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