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July 18, 2012

Rick Rhoden

Steve Schorr

Billy Joe Tolliver

Jack Wagner


THE MODERATOR:  I'd like to introduce eight‑time winner Rick Rhoden, three‑time winner Billy Joe Tolliver, and the man who calls the odds and makes them for Harrah's Race and Sportsbook on your left, Steve Schorr.
I think there's going to be some comments directed at Steve as I look at the odds.  We see that Rick is a 4‑to‑1.  The line on Rick is 4‑to‑1 and Billy Joe is 7‑to‑2.  One guy in front of them who hasn't won the tournament, favorite, 5‑to‑2.  Tony Romo.
Steve, tell us how you came up with the odds you've selected.
STEVE SCHORR:  We do the best we can.  And what we came up with on Tony Romo, a couple things that are key.  Out of the top 15 players that we really believe have the chance, Tony is active.  He's younger.  He's 32.
We believe that he's the best golfer of the bunch.  He's a new father.  He's married.  He's stable.  And we think he's going to kick the door in.
The last three years, second place the last three years, we really think he's going to win it this year.
THE MODERATOR:  Steve you mentioned a word, "stable."  We know that doesn't apply to Billy Joe.
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  Does that mean I'm unstable?
STEVE SCHORR:  I'll tell you one thing about Billy.  He played golf with one of my good friends, Larry Sanders, yesterday, and I asked Larry what time they went to bed.  It was around midnight.
So that's one of the things that for Billy Joe we look at; we don't know if he's going to be at the concert or what he's going to be doing on Saturday night.
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  I'll be on the streets, that's for sure.
THE MODERATOR:  I'd like to introduce Jack Wagner, defending champion.  Jack, always great to have you here.  As the defending champion, our wonderful odds maker has you at 7‑to‑1.  I think I'd be talking some trash to him quite frankly.
JACK WAGNER:  I'll remain humble.
RICK RHODEN:  It's better if you want to make a bet on yourself.
THE MODERATOR:  Better if you want to make a bet on yourself.
STEVE SCHORR:  One thing I'd like to say about Jack is, looking at all the odds, if there's one person that, if I was on the outside and I was going to bet, it would be Jack Wagner.  And at 7‑to‑1 there's value there.
THE MODERATOR:  We also understand Rick Rhoden's back is feeling pretty good.  I don't see a mustache this year.  So what do you think?  He's looking for notes.
RICK RHODEN:  My game now goes in spurts.  When I'm playing good, I'm pretty good.  When I'm not, I'm not.  So hopefully this week it will be when I'm playing pretty good.
THE MODERATOR:  Billy, how have you been playing?  I was out here a month ago.  You came into the bar, double eagled 18 with a 9‑iron, par 5, 9‑iron to the hole.  Didn't buy anybody a drink, from what I noticed.  But‑‑
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  No, holes in one, not double eagle.
THE MODERATOR:  Figured you'd buy a double shot.
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  Should have bought me a drink.
THE MODERATOR:  Besides the double eagle, you're eighth I believe you said it was.  How have you been playing?
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  Like Steve said, it's hit or miss with me.  It depends on how early I can get the drunk shakes off.  If it happens by the fifth hole, I'm pretty good.
You just hope you can get through three or four and make some hay there.  But then usually you settle in, get enough water in you where you've recovered from the night before and hope you haven't wasted it.
But you never know about me.  I've got a bad golf swing.  It's just whenever it times up, I'm good.  When my timing's off, I gotta chip and putt.
THE MODERATOR:  Steve Schorr mentioned a little while ago, Jack, the reason he had you at 7‑to‑1 instead of at the top is because of all the time you spent on Dancing With the Stars and that practice time on the ballroom took you away from the driving range and the golf course.  Is that accurate?
JACK WAGNER:  I wish it was accurate.  But unfortunately I was butted off way too early.  So needless to say, I've had more time than I wanted to practice because I was counting on giving Donald Driver a run for his money.  Happy to see Donald here.  Great guy.  I think it's his first year.
It was a great experience.  And I thought I knew it and the nerves would be like over a five‑foot putt.  But it's not anything like to have to dance on national TV.
THE MODERATOR:  Let's open it up.
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  That would ruin my day.
THE MODERATOR:  Questions from the media.

Q.  Steve, who's had the biggest line move so far on your futures there?
STEVE SCHORR:  The truth is, the betting's been pretty stable.  Doesn't start to come in until this afternoon.  But the changes will come tomorrow.  We'll get a lot of action Thursday night.  And then Friday all the moves will have been made.

Q.  Looks like somebody must have bet on Billy Joe because he's now 7‑to‑2 ahead of Rick Rhoden, so he must have been higher odds when you opened.
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  It wasn't me.
RICK RHODEN:  I bet on him.
STEVE SCHORR:  Sometimes we take a look at the odds and we make moves, but based on what the people are betting there's a little bit of action.  So there's a little bit of movement.  Tolliver, he's questionable.  He's a very good golfer.  People like the guy.

Q.  What approximately is the total handle for the tournament?  Do you have a number for that?
STEVE SCHORR:  I can't give you total handle on the tournament.

Q.  Just too large?
STEVE SCHORR:  Yeah, way too big.  It's a great event for us.  That's what I can tell you.  It's a lot of fun.

Q.  Rick, what do you think about Tony Romo being the favorite over you since you've won eight times and he's never won?
RICK RHODEN:  I don't know.  They haven't always been right with that.  Eight times they were.  They weren't right my first year, that's for sure.  I wish I would have got back down to those odds.
I don't know, Tony's a good player.  I expect him to win this tournament a few times.  He just needs to get in more tournaments.  I think our play sometimes isn't as good as it was four or five years ago, because we played a lot more tournaments.  Right now we're playing like one tournament.  And some of us aren't playing that one.
So like one tournament before you get here to actually play real golf almost.  It's not the same as playing with your buddies.  You can play every day of the week.  It's not the same.
But there's‑‑ I would say there's eight or nine guys here; if they play well, they've got a pretty good chance.  I think Tony's probably the best guy of the group that's come up in the last five or six years.  He's a good player.  It wouldn't surprise me if he won.  I think he's going to win a few of them before he gets through playing.
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  I wouldn't put it past Oliver Hudson.  He's really come on.  His game's gotten better.
One less guy.
STEVE SCHORR:  For us, Rick's been a great golfer.  He visits us once in a while.  He's won eight times.  We question his last two places.  He got a sixth in 2011 and an eighth in 2010.  So we're not sure if his year is over.  We hope it's not.  That's why we've got Romo up there as number one.

Q.  Have you done anything different this year to prepare for this tournament than you've done in the past?
RICK RHODEN:  Not really.  I think we all start, when it starts getting closer here, we start getting excited.  I would like to come out here last week not just to play golf, just to get out of Florida.  It's 95 degrees and come to a nice, cool place.
I don't think guys do anything different, we play golf.  And when we get here, try to get used to how far the ball's going when you hit it solid.
That's the hardest thing.  We've all played this place 100 times, at least, maybe 150.  It's not like not having to know the course.  Just gotta figure out how far the ball's going and hopefully you're hitting the ball pretty good.  All of us doing that, we'll play pretty well.
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  Like Rick said, where we live, it's so hot, I don't practice anyway.  You get no time.  Hopefully as you go, you come in early enough to play in the Pro‑Ams to get a little work in.
I'm not like these guys.  I don't have a good move.  I'm just home in a bad mood if I'm practicing.  So it's day to day with me.
And it's good to have a plan and prepare and do this, that and the other, but I come up here and all these guys in the casino and everything else, I've known them for years.  And we just end up having party dog all week.
So it just goes how it goes for me.  I don't prepare any differently.  I'm on a golf course at home that fits your eye right to left.  And about a month out I try to start hitting it straight or let it fall to the right and try it.
But, I mean, this golf course has gotten to where other than two holes you can hit it right to left.  It doesn't matter.  So, I mean, I don't know if there's anything to work on.  Just hope you get out here, the greens are good and you putt well.
JACK WAGNER:  I actually personally, now in the last four years, take about a six or seven month golf hiatus.  I kind of turn it up pretty hard a couple of months before.  I pound a lot of balls.  Don't play a ton of holes.
I think of all us would probably attest to the fact that you want to play well enough to be in the hunt on the last day.  You want to be in the final at least two or three groups, if not the last group, because that's really, this is our main golf tournament of the year.  So however you prepare, you kind of just hope to play well enough and putt well enough to be in the hunt on Sunday, because that's really what's so much fun for all of us.
THE MODERATOR:  Any mind games that you guys are thinking of with Romo, just to help him out a little bit over the next few days that you can talk about?
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  I don't have any.  I've never played with the guy in this event.  So apparently I'm not good enough to get into his group or when I'm playing well he's not in mine.
Each guy's different.  I mean, I've played with Wags and Quinn so many times here.  They're the best of friends; they don't even talk.  They don't talk to each other.  It's so different, I get with a group, they like to chatter and carry on, it's different.
But at the end of the day you're worried about your own stuff and I just‑‑ I just feel like I'm sure these guys do, too, that if I go out there and play my game, Romo, Rhoden, Wagner, they're going to have to play.
And if I don't, one of them's probably playing theirs.  I worry about me.  Especially like Steve said, what time do I get in?  My caddie's on me, he's on me right now.
We've been hammered drunk every night since we've been here Saturday.  He said you might want to slow down a little bit, get some rest.  I don't know:  You are what you are, I guess.  Starting to get a reputation here.  I'm going to church.

Q.  Rick, your thoughts on the state of baseball as far as the frequency of no‑hitters, one‑hitters, as of late?
RICK RHODEN:  I'm surprised they get a no‑hitter, they don't usually let them pitch nine innings.  All the way through all sports, they're all bigger, stronger.
I was talking to somebody today I looked at the Dodgers pitching staff on the Internet the other day and they have like 10 or 12 guys.  Smallest guy weighed 215.  When I played, there was probably a couple guys over 200 pounds.
They're all big.  They're strong.  The hitters, they don't choke up.  They can all hit the ball out of the ballpark.  When they get two strikes they don't cut down on their swing any.
If you're a good pitcher nowadays, the good pitchers to me stick out like a sore thumb.  Guys don't hit .300 off the number one guys.  There's quite a few good number one guys.  More guys strike out than they used to.  Less walks.  So if a pitcher's on, some of these guys are throwing 95 miles an hour with two, three really good pitchers.  Verlander, he doesn't surprise me, he doesn't throw one every year.  Os if they let him go nine innings.  That's the key.

Q.  Is there one or two guys you enjoy watching?
RICK RHODEN:  I used to love to watch Greg Maddox pitch, because he really pitched.  That's what you called pitching.
These guys now have unhittable stuff.  They don't really pitch that well.  Their stuff is just so good.  They don't give up many hits.  They can't throw the ball down away, up and in, move it like he could.  Or guys like, back in my day, pitched more like that.  Now it's all about power.

Q.  Billy Joe, last year we were sitting here talking about your Red Raiders playing Nevada, the local team, and if I remember right you were giving a little bit of love to your Raiders, a little bit of trash talk to Nevada.  They needed that last second or last minute, I think, touchdown to win.  Anything to follow up with?
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  Correct me, who won that game?

Q.  I believe it was Texas Tech.
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  Case closed.  If I'm not mistaken, I think I was throwing 20 or 30 points out there on a beatdown.  They had a good team.  Was it UNR, Nevada Reno, right?  And they had an outstanding quarterback, wasn't it Kaepernick?

Q.  He was there two years ago.  The guy they had last year, he's a sophomore this year.  His name is Fajardo.
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  That's probably why I was talking all the big numbers, because he was gone.  That kid was gone to San Francisco or something.
They got a good program up there.  I believe it's Coach Ault.  I think they just resigned him to a lengthy deal a year or two ago, which locked that, solidified that thing down for him.  He's an outstanding football coach.  And he puts a good product on the field.

Q.  And then I'm curious, if all three of you would pick someone other than yourself to win this week, who would it be?
RICK RHODEN:  If Billy Joe can find his drive, he has a good chance to win.
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  I'll pick you and you pick Rick.  I pick Wags.  It's a love‑in.

Q.  Have you been out on the course?  How is it playing?  What's it looking like?  What kind of shape is it in?
JACK WAGNER:  The course, unfortunately, is not in very good shape.  I don't understand why.  I just played yesterday.  The fairways seem to have a little, some bad spots.  And I'm sure they're working on it now.  Couple of the greens are a little worse than I remember.  Seems like by the time Friday comes around, this course is always in pretty good shape.  I'm sure that's the plan again this year.
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  And I'm never in a fairway, so I think it's in great shape.  I got plush grass everywhere I'm at.  I don't know what they're talking about.
RICK RHODEN:  I'm like Jack, we always think it's pretty bad early in the week.  But by Friday it's just much better than what it is during the week.
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  I think this early in the week, I think it's in the best shape it's been in 10 years for me.  I mean, usually the greens are a lot slower.  I know they've done some work on some fairways where they did some cut‑in and things like that, and it's a process golf course superintendent's working with.
But just personally the spots that I hit it, I mean I think it's in as good shape this early in the tournament that I've seen it in five, six, seven years.
RICK RHODEN:  He's driving it 50 yards past me and Jack.  He's not hitting it where the places are messed up.

Q.  Billy, on your double eagle, was that about a month ago, apparently?
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  Yeah.  And naturally I would waste it.  I mean, you would just love to come in on 18 there during the tournament, and these guys are in there, bunch of points, looking sexy, and then you drop that bad boy on them, ten‑pointer job.  And they're going:  What just happened?  You waste that.  I won't make another one.  So thank this good shot and something that didn't matter.

Q.  Do you know how far your drive was?
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  I don't know.  It wasn't a good one.  Had like 170.  Usually have sand wedge or something.  I don't know.  I've had everything.  I've had 235 in.  I've had 100 in.  You never know.
What was it, a couple of years ago when I won, I hit the tree over there.  And Roenick's over there beating it around in the bushes.  And me and Wagner are walking up.  He goes:  Where are you?  I said:  I'm on the green.  What?  I thought you laid it up.  You had an iron in your hand.  I said I only hit 235.  Who knows with me.

Q.  Being that Tony Romo's married, do you buy in that he's all settled down or is that all bullshit?
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  First off with Romo, my daughter's not real happy with him.  He sent her the postcard telling her can't wait until you're 21, you're my girl and all this stuff.  Now she's hot with him.
But as far as settled down and everything, I mean it's not like Romo was a wild child anyway.
He's a quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys.  It doesn't matter how good or bad they are each year, he's media number one across the globe.
And so he's not out there running the streets and doing anything.  I mean, I hope marriage keeps him in second, though, I'm not going to lie to you.
RICK RHODEN:  I'm going to stay away from that one.
JACK WAGNER:  What was the question?
THE MODERATOR:  Do you think the calming influence of marriage will help Romo's game this week?
JACK WAGNER:  I have no idea.  I never saw him out gambling, taking a drink otherwise.  So maybe his wife will get him out, get him in trouble.
THE MODERATOR:  Steve, anything that you've heard today that might change some of the odds when you go back to the book at Harrah's?
STEVE SCHORR:  We look at everything.  What I would say is Wagner, like I said earlier, is probably a little bit too high.
Something else I picked up on Romo, who is the odds‑on favorite, there's some question about his caddie which I haven't got all the information but it's somebody who may not have played the course many times.
We watch the betting.  Rick and Billy Joe at the top.  They can flip‑flop depending on how the wagers come in.  But we've got three guys sitting here who have a pretty good chance.
RICK RHODEN:  Who caddied the other years, did they know the course?  The caddie in the other years, were they really good?
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  Like Rick said, Rick's wife caddied for him for four victories.  She doesn't know if she's watching or hanging out when it comes to golf.

Q.  Away from the golf course, what are you guys looking forward to this week?  What do you enjoy about coming up here and what are some of the highlights off the course?
JACK WAGNER:  I'd like to get back some of my markers.
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  I would like to get some rest.  Like I said earlier, I've come up here.  We know all these people.  And I have a great time with them.  All the American Century people, all the casino people, I've known them for a long time.
We have a great time.  And they're all here on vacation.  So they don't mind laying out until 12, 1:00 having a few cocktails.  So I hope that I get some rest here in the next few days.
RICK RHODEN:  Like Billy said, all three of us have played in this tournament over 20 years.  We met a lot of people up here.  And a lot of‑‑ and seeing the guys again.  There's a lot of guys we don't see during the year.  You get to see them here again and see what's going on with their families; it's like old home week.  It's a good time.
STEVE SCHORR:  And for us at Harrah's, July is a wonderful month.  We start off with the 4th of July, which is great.  Then we go into celebrity golf, which is really the best week you could possibly work.
We see all the celebs come in.  It's exciting.  We're all golfers on the senior staff.  So it's really fun to watch.  And it's just a fun, great event when American Century comes here.
THE MODERATOR:  That's not even their PR guy; that's their sportsbook manager.  Way to go.  I like that.  Thank you, Steve.
JACK WAGNER:  Just on a serious note.  A testament to this tournament.  More people over the years.  Last year over 40,000 coming here.  It's just an event unlike any other.
And I think anybody involved with it, celebrity‑wise, is grateful to come here, not only have we become friends but it's an event that I think the public looks forward to, people plan their vacations around, and certainly all the guys that play in this event plan their summer around.  So that's really the highlight of the week.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you.

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