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AMERICAN CENTURY CHAMPIONSHIP


July 21, 2012


John Elway

Mark Rypien

John Smoltz


STATELINE, NEVADA

THE MODERATOR:  Mark Rypien, 43 points after two rounds.  John Elway with 37; John Smoltz, 37.  Mark, let's start with you, give us a little bit, give us a rundown.  You played it big out there.
MARK RYPIEN:  We had a fun group, for one.  Made a lot of birdies and kept each other going, and fun guys to play with.
And kind of went on a three bogey, bogeyed 7, 8, 9, coming home, but I started my first nine out with a birdie at 1 and a birdie at 10, that helped me a little bit, and finished with a good stretch, 3, 3, 3, 4, the last four holes.  You do that here and you're going to get some points and get yourself back in contention.
THE MODERATOR:  John Elway, nice to have you back in the interview room.
JOHN ELWAY:  Thank you.  Nice to be up here.  Nice to be up here.
THE MODERATOR:  Tell us about your round today, what holes were you playing well.
JOHN ELWAY:  I just kind of played solid today.  Didn't hit a lot of great shots.  Hit some putts that didn't fall.  Until I got to 16 and missed that little putt, it was really a nonstressful round.
And tried to roll them in.¬† Didn't get a lot of them to fall, but to hit it close on 15, was able to make birdie there.¬† And then I made‑‑ hit a bad second shot on 16 and 17, lost my concentration a little bit with everything going on down there, which disappointed me a little bit, and missed a little one there.
But I was able to make a long snake, a 20‑footer on 18 to kind of, to put an explanation point on the round.¬† And it kept me in it and we'll be chasing Mark.¬† As Mark said, we had a great group and a lot of good things happened.
THE MODERATOR:  John Smoltz, give us a little bit about your round.
JOHN SMOLTZ:  I think we had the best, best ball as a threesome out there today.  I'll take our best ball against the rest of the threesomes.  The only thing for me, disappointing finish.
Had a good round on 16 and 18.  Didn't take advantage of it.  I had an easy shot, really, on 16, and probably I was a little disappointed.
But I either was trying to make putts or 3‑putting.¬† I was trying to make a lot of birdies to get back in.¬† Charged a lot of putts.¬† Some went in, some didn't, but overall pretty happy.

Q.  Rip, we remember the first year of this event, I think you do, too, 1990, when you won it.
MARK RYPIEN:  I've been chasing for 22 years.  I don't know what the hell the lead looks like.  I've never been up there, and I might not even have it.  Who knows what Quinn will do.
Fun and entertaining.  Dottie followed us around, said it's some of the best golf she's seen since she's been here.
Like John said, couple of shots that I wish I had back, but a lot of fun, it was nice to make birdies and played well.
THE MODERATOR:  Questions?

Q.  Do you remember how you played on Sunday 22 years ago?
MARK RYPIEN:¬† I don't know, Frankie Avalon was giving me tips on the range‑‑ (laughter) he'd say, Mark, really if you play well today you might have a chance.¬† So I took that to light.
I don't know.  Kind of when there's no people out there that year, there was no one around.  The crowds we were getting on Sunday is what we're getting on Monday, which is interesting.  So John remembers that.
It's just kind of surreal that you're back 23 years later.¬† I'm not a spring chicken anymore by any means.¬† I beat the big 5‑0 this October.¬† And so it's nice to be competitive and back into a chance where you put yourself in a position to win.

Q.  So you're better equipped than anyone maybe to compare the quality of golf back then to the quality of golf among these guys today.  Can you reduce that to a couple of sentences?
MARK RYPIEN:  John would be the expert.  He's been here every year.  The year Mario won is the year I missed.  It's just a field of really good players and a field of people that bring a lot of people here, entertainers.  And we're an entertainment tour, that's first and foremost, but we play good golf.  And today was a great example of good golf.

Q.  John, can you weigh in on the quality of play, the competitiveness, almost what it takes to win now versus what it took to win it early?
JOHN ELWAY:¬† I think the golf has gotten a lot better over the years.¬† And I think that‑‑ and there's been more, as we go it seems like the field gets deeper every year.
If you look at the scoreboard today, there was 10 or 12 guys within five points, which there were years in the middle there with Rick Rhoden kind of running away with everything.
Usually when you had a winner it was either Quinn or Billy Joe ran away with a couple.¬† But now this is kind of the first‑‑ Chris Chandler.¬† But this is kind of the first year, when you looked at the scoreboard, everything was pretty close.
So to me the fields are a lot deeper and you're getting a lot better golf.

Q.  Mark, can you run through the eagle on 16?
MARK RYPIEN:  Well, Dottie came and looked at it.  She said, oh, you're not going to like this.  I said:  Why?  It's in the fairway.  I love anything that's in the fairway.  It was sitting in a divot.
So Tim, my brother Tim said, we should probably‑‑ I was going to hit a 3‑wood, 265, 270.¬† He said I think hybrid, that's what they make those for, you've got some tough shots.
I took a 2‑hybrid and made a good swing and‑‑ of course my eyes‑‑ I'm half blind now, too.
JOHN SMOLTZ:  He was in a divot.  Unbelievable shot.  Got a tiny little plaque we'll put back there.
MARK RYPIEN:¬† So that was the highlight.¬† Today was great.¬† Kind of a‑‑ worked through the attrition of starting off middle of the round not playing very well.¬† But yesterday I turned two points into 16.¬† So that's why I'm in the position I am today.
I was all over the bar.  I was across the road at 7 yesterday.  Almost out of bounds on a few holes.  So it was just hanging together and kind of a Houdini act that got me where I am at right now.  And today was some of it also.

Q.¬† You mentioned the crowds.¬† Today was a new single day attendance record in the 23‑year history of the tournament with 13,125.
MARK RYPIEN:  I think 8,000 were on the boats on 17.  I will say I did get a hell of a break on 15.  My ball was in the cart shed where all the maintenance crew is and it kicked back into somehow into the rough.  So I did get a pretty good break there.  A really good break.

Q.  John Elway, I'll go off the grid here a little bit, if you could talk a little bit about what you think Carson Palmer brings to the Raiders as a division rival?
JOHN ELWAY:  This is the second guy I've talked to in the last five minutes wanting to know all about the Raiders.
Carson, it's going to be much better with him the fact he's had a year under his belt in an off season.  Other than that, that's all I've got to say about the Raiders.

Q.  Three years ago I think you were part of that group, there was a big tie for second place.  You said at that time you felt that confident enough that you could win this event.  Last year you kind of fell off a little bit.  Are you feeling much better this year, more confident, and what do you predict for tomorrow?
JOHN SMOLTZ:  I had surgery after last year.  So that was a rough finish with the shoulder.  So, yeah, I feel great.  I just haven't taken advantage of some of the places I've been.
Although I did get lucky and get some up‑and‑downs.¬† So golf has a way of evening out.¬† And today's round probably evened out, I holed one out from the fairway with a putter and got up‑and‑down on a par 5 I should have never got up‑and‑down with.¬† They have a way of evening out.
MARK RYPIEN:  By the way, I want to add that was probably the best shot I've seen in the history of this tournament.  There's no way you're going to get that thing within 30feet and he almost knocked it to five feet.
JOHN SMOLTZ:  I was arguing with myself what I should do.  But I have yet to hit the ball like I have in the practice rounds, which is frustrating.
And that's the process you have to get through.  Because for whatever reason I love to play golf fast.  And I love to be in rhythm.  When I'm in rhythm, I can play with just about anybody, but I'm not quite patient enough to get through some of the shots you have to get through after waiting.
So I'm learning.  It's a process.  And these guys have been here a long time.  And I'm looking to hopefully be here a long time, too.
I think I have a chance to win.  I just gotta hit the shots that I've hit in practice rounds down the stretch when it counts.  I gotta come out of the bullpen, in other words.  I'm starting okay, I just gotta come out of the bullpen.

Q.  Some of the other guys were talking a little bit earlier in the wake about how it all comes down to putting on this golf course.  Is that a consensus among the three of you as well?
JOHN SMOLTZ:¬† I had 34 yesterday and that's with five 1‑putts. ¬†So the putting‑‑ took me a month to get over it last year.
JOHN ELWAY:¬† That's the reason why we're so close because it's tough to putt out there and it's tough to make a lot of putts unless you knock it real close.¬† And even the 3‑footers are difficult.¬† So to me that's the great thing about this year and probably the reason why everybody's so close.

Q.  Rip, you won this before.  John and John, you've been real close a couple times.  What are you feeling like going into tomorrow?
JOHN SMOLTZ:  I think for me personally this will be the 20th round I'll play with John tomorrow, more than likely.  We've been playing every round together.
So we were nip and tuck.  I think you have to throw a bunch of numbers out there and get out ahead.  That's always fun when you can get up ahead and create some cushion and ride it.
So an early start would be nice, but you gotta take advantage of the par 5s.  Yesterday I birdied all four.  Today I only birdied one of them.  That's the big difference.  The guys that win this tournament, that I've seen, crush the par 5s.  So to me that's the key.
JOHN ELWAY:¬† When you wake up on Sunday morning you have a chance to win, that's what it's all about.¬† That's really why we come to play here.¬† And so if I continue to be solid, hit solid golf shots hopefully roll them in, and John‑‑ they're so long, the fact that he does kill those, the par 5s.¬† I've got to play the par 5s better.¬† But come out and make good shots tomorrow and see what happens.

Q.  When you were an active player here, it was always your goal to finish among the top of the active players.
JOHN ELWAY:  I'm an active guy again.  Now that I got a job, I consider myself an active guy.

Q.  Rip, what do you think going into tomorrow?
MARK RYPIEN:¬† Again, it's the same thing.¬† Let's not‑‑
JOHN SMOLTZ:  I'll make 18 putters, if I were you.
MARK RYPIEN:  That's what I'd like to do.  Let's not pretend, I'll be looking at the leaderboard.  These guys said exactly what they should.
You start throwing some birdies up there and you have that tightist bungitis, it's not the best place to be.  But if you can do something yourself and extend the lead, then you got a chance.
But it's always fun and it's always good and you start making some birdies.¬† These guys had some putts.¬† John had three putts that literally wrapped‑‑ Smoltz had one here that did wrap around the hole also.
JOHN ELWAY:  380.  It wasn't a 360, it was a 380.
MARK RYPIEN:  Came back, went out the other way.  Roll the ball and make putts and start get going and I think everyone kind of propels it.  It's all who you're playing with.  There's a comfortable group here today and I've been in some uncomfortable groups, too. But wee see what tomorrow's like.

Q.  Mark, just coming down the stretch, your birdies, how far were they, 3?
MARK RYPIEN:¬† 280 yards.¬† My second shot at 15 and knocked it to 30feet and made it.¬† So that was a lucky birdie.¬† 205.¬† It felt like 280.¬† And like four‑foot eagle putt at 16.
JOHN SMOLTZ:  In a divot, unbelievable.
MARK RYPIEN:¬† 2‑putt at 18 for birdie.
JOHN ELWAY:  What did you hit in there?
MARK RYPIEN:¬† 5‑iron.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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