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July 9, 2013

Rocco Mediate


THE MODERATOR:テつ Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to welcome Rocco Mediate here in the Media Center.テつ Rocco is playing his first U.S. Senior Open, having just turned 50 this past year, won his Champions Tour debut in February at the Alliance Championship.
ROCCO MEDIATE:テつ Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Q.テつ Blah, blah, blah.テつ Six‑time winner on the PGA Tour.テつ Most recently the 2010 Frys.com, 47 years old, oldest wire to wire winner.
ROCCO MEDIATE:テつ I didn't know that.テつ I'm pretty happy about that right now.
THE MODERATOR:テつ You learn something new every day.
ROCCO MEDIATE:テつ Oldest wire to wire winner.テつ I would much rather have the oldest U.S. Open champion in '08.テつ You can have the wire to wire thing.
THE MODERATOR:テつ You've had some success in the U.S. Open, three top ten finishes.テつ You're referring to 2008, played well there at Torrey Pines.
ROCCO MEDIATE:テつ It was all right.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Not bad, right?テつ How is the Senior Open?
ROCCO MEDIATE:テつ It's good.テつ I came back here last week‑‑ what is this?テつ A week ago today.テつ I was down here Tuesday, and I've always said this, and I'll say it again.テつ I love coming to USGA set up golf courses.テつ When I came last week, it was cool.テつ It was wet, much wetter than it is now because it rained like 12 feet here the last couple of weeks.
Bill Gerber, I got to meet Billy.テつ He's with TD Ameritrade.テつ I'm staying with him this week, which could be a problem.テつ He's a tough one, Bill.テつ I'm just saying that so he gets in trouble.
But we came down and played, just the four of us, him and a couple of his buddies.テつ I love Perry Maxwell, period.テつ Colonial's‑‑ well, I haven't played Prairie Dunes, but I had a good tournament at Southern Hills in '01, right?
ROCCO MEDIATE:テつ So I knew what to expect, but sometimes it always gets your expectations‑‑ I mean, it was higher.テつ I saw even more than I thought I'd see.テつ Great golf course, set up perfect.テつ Rough is nasty.
Do they have any rough in the U.S. Opens?テつ Is that how it's supposed to be?テつ So you got to drive straight?
THE MODERATOR:テつ I think so.
ROCCO MEDIATE:テつ Good.テつ It's great.テつ A lot of motion in the golf course, hard walk, hot as hell.テつ I love it.テつ I hope it gets like concrete, but I don't know.テつ Like 11.
THE MODERATOR:テつ You've played with a lot of these guys before, but now turning 50 this past year and coming back out here in February, what's it like to be with a lot of the guys you've played most of your PGA Tour career with?
ROCCO MEDIATE:テつ It's like I said, I get to play with the greatest players that ever played the game.テつ That's pretty much all there is to say about that.テつ It's pretty cool.テつ They all play with‑‑ I call him Mr. Irwin just to make him mad.テつ I played with Hale this morning and Eichelberger.テつ I mean, just listening to them talk, I laughed the entire day.テつ Hale was fantastic today.テつ And Berger is just‑‑ they're so cool.テつ It's nice to see that.
Hale and I were talking about ‑‑ asking about what do you think your best shot was like in your career?テつ And I brought up two of them.テつ I know a lot of stuff that I probably shouldn't know.テつ I study this stuff.テつ But I said the 2 iron on 18 at Winged Foot in '74, pretty good.テつ But no one talks about the 2 iron at 16 at Medinah when he beats Arnold in the playoff.テつ He was just talking about that.テつ He was middle of the fairway at the 200‑yard marker, a yard less than the 200‑yard marker, and he had to hook it up on the green.
I don't remember Medinah that much.テつ I didn't play that Open.テつ I only played there once, I think.テつ I don't remember that.テつ Anyway, he hooked it around this tree in the middle of the fairway, and he got an eight or nine‑footer that breaks seven or eight inches, and he goes, that's a U.S. Open.テつ Of course, he made it and won the Tournament.テつ Of course he did, he only won three of those.
It was cool talking about that stuff, and watching him being out here, and he was my man when I was in high school and college.テつ He still is my man actually.テつ I love watching him play.
It's cool to be able to ask him a question or watch him hit balls.テつ I'm still learning.テつ If we're not still learning, we're finished.テつ We're all finished.
But it was really cool.テつ We had a great time.テつ 4 hours, 15 minutes.テつ It was fun.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Not the least bit hot out there?
THE MODERATOR:テつ We'll open it up to the floor.

Q.テつ How many times do you break out your iPhone and get a picture taken with somebody like you did with Hale today?
ROCCO MEDIATE:テつ We did today.テつ We did today, a lot.テつ Jessica, my fiancee, always says, take pictures today.テつ Take pictures today.テつ I'm like all right.テつ I hate doing that.
But we did a nice thing on 18.テつ It was cool.テつ Yeah, it was fantastic.テつ I do it a lot because I love all that part about this game.

Q.テつ Have you played with everyone out here?
ROCCO MEDIATE:テつ Yeah, I've played with everybody here, I would have to say.テつ I said this in Naples‑‑ and they made a poster out of this.テつ This is hilarious.テつ They asked me about the Champions Tour and how it is, how tough it is or how easy it is.テつ They're all wrong about the easy part.
When I said this, I went the first two tournaments, Cookie won at Hualalai and I won at Allianz, first two tournaments, 17 under‑‑ I said this.テつ The competition is as much as you can get anywhere you want to find it, period.テつ First two tournaments, 17 under par won the first two events in three rounds.テつ Go ahead and get you some of that.テつ Go on, bring it.
And our golf courses are not patsies.テつ On our regular tour, we're at 7,000, sometimes a little shorter, sometimes a little longer.テつ And this week, this 6,900 plays about 9,000 yards sometimes because it's so up and down.テつ This isn't easy‑‑ it's just a continuation of the PGA Tour, if you ask me.テつ Competition is just as much.

Q.テつ How do you see the competition this week?テつ Mark Calcavecchia has said the younger guys are going to have maybe the better chance because of the hills and the heat.
ROCCO MEDIATE:テつ That could be an advantage, I guess you would say, but still you got to put the ball where you need to put it.
These greens, if it stays a little bit soft like this, brings a whole new category up because now you can hit longer clubs into these things and hold the green.テつ If it firms up, these greens don't like long clubs.テつ They get very angry if you try to hit 3 irons to them.
But if it stays like it is now, it brings a whole‑‑ you don't have to hit 17 miles.テつ There's a lot of things you can cut off.テつ If you hit far, you can cut a lot of corners, but then you have to take a chance on the rough, and the rough is bad for everybody.

Q.テつ What score would you take this week?
ROCCO MEDIATE:テつ You know, they've asked us that for like a week.テつ I don't have any idea how to handicap this thing, but I would say I would take 2 under a day and just sit in the clubhouse and laugh my ass off.テつ That's what I did.テつ I don't know if it's going to be that good or going to be more.テつ It depends what happens with the golf course.
The fairways are firming up.テつ The greens are still a little soft, but they're fed perfectly, perfect speed.テつ If you get in the wrong place, it's hard to two‑putt some of these things.テつ It's not like it's‑‑ but if they firm up a teeny‑weenie bit, then we've got a ball game.

Q.テつ Where do you really have to hit perfect shots?テつ What holes?
ROCCO MEDIATE:テつ Well, there's four‑‑ there's no easy‑‑ I've never seen an easy hole in my life ever.テつ I've never seen one because you still have to make the ball go where you're looking.
But length‑wise, No.8, that's 477 from the back tee.テつ It's playing 510 minimum up that hill, at least 500 yards.
What's another really nasty‑‑ 10 is going to change the face of this golf tournament, I assure you, either good or bad, because they're going to play that tee on top, it looks like, the whole time.テつ It's downhill.テつ So you get a 3 wood, and then you have 215 to the hole, and that green doesn't like hybrids as a par 4.テつ So you have to really‑‑
18.テつ Today was into the wind, so it played a lot longer than it did when I played last week.テつ So it depends on the wind and depends on the conditions.テつ I don't know what's going to win.テつ I really have no idea.

Q.テつ What's it going to be like for the guys who have to start on 10 on Thursday and Friday?
ROCCO MEDIATE:テつ I'd be one of those guys.テつ I was kind of happier‑‑

Q.テつ That's a tough shot.
ROCCO MEDIATE:テつ Yeah, that's the first one.テつ You've got to bring it on some of these holes.テつ You have to bring your‑‑ you've just got to stand up on that tee shot, and you've got to make a big move because, if you try to play it safe‑‑ I may hit a 3 wood off of that tee because it slopes right to the bottom.テつ If they move that tee up to the front of that tee box, I can drive over that creek if I hit it to the right, which I will do.テつ I'll hit driver from the front of the tee box.テつ I might do it from the back because I do it all the time anyway.
But the smart play may be a 3 wood to the bottom and take your chances on hybrid or 3 iron.テつ You're shooting straight up over the top of this thing.テつ Pretty cool.

Q.テつ Rocco, is this your first visit to Omaha Country Club?テつ And if‑‑ second part, you're a Western Pennsylvania guy.テつ What golf courses in the East does this remind you of?
ROCCO MEDIATE:テつ The first is I came last week, Tuesday.テつ I played the course twice.テつ That's all you need.テつ Great golf courses like this, if you see it once, you kind of know what you got to do.
So if I didn't come until Wednesday night, I'd be fine with the lines I need to take off the tee.テつ That's the sign of a really good course.
So you're saying golf courses up in where, Western PA?テつ This reminds me of Southern Hills a lot, the par 3s, the up and down, the curve.テつ It reminds me of Southern Hills a lot, a whole lot.
It doesn't‑‑ Colonial is a whole different golf course, dead flat, not even a hill at Colonial at all.テつ He did good work wherever he went.
Up Northeast, it's hard to say.テつ I don't really know of any that reminds me up there because he was a different‑‑ it's like asking if anything reminds you of a Rainer or a Macdonald or a George Thomas.テつ It's hard to‑‑ you know what I mean?

Q.テつ You just mentioned that you get to play with the greatest golfers ever.

Q.テつ I saw you in the back listening to Peter Horrobin.
ROCCO MEDIATE:テつ Pretty cool.

Q.テつ Pretty cool story.
ROCCO MEDIATE:テつ Really cool story.

Q.テつ How inspiring is it to know that this is obviously a very special tournament, not only to you but even someone like that?
ROCCO MEDIATE:テつ That's why it's an Open.テつ It's open to whoever can get in, and the qualifying is extremely difficult on any Open, whether it's a regular Open, this Open, any Open.テつ The fact that he did that is pretty cool.
I didn't get to hear all of it.テつ I just walked in, and he talked about ten minutes.テつ It's pretty neat.
It's a special thing.テつ It's our National Open.テつ There's nothing better than that.テつ And the other U.S. Open is the same.テつ It's nothing‑‑ I don't care what anybody says, it's our National Open.テつ I don't know what else you would want in golf in that as far as the players.テつ Maybe somebody, but not me.テつ You can have the other ones.

Q.テつ What do you have to do a little better in your game to be in contention on the weekend?
ROCCO MEDIATE:テつ Just putt a little teeny‑weenie bit better.テつ Not a lot, a little.テつ I was telling the guys my first five weeks on the Champions Tour, my first five weeks, I putted really good for me.テつ I made a lot of good putts.テつ I hit it good, but I putted good.
The next five weeks, I putted mediocre, and I finished mediocre.テつ You come out on our Tour playing mediocre, you're going to get those results.テつ It's the same thing on the PGA Tour.テつ It's the same thing.
In the three‑round of events, this doesn't come for this one, you'd better come out fast or you're finished.テつ On Friday, you're done.テつ But here is different.テつ This is more of a‑‑ this is like a small, real slow marathon, this one, at The Open.テつ You just take your time.テつ You're going to have your bad holes and your bad stretches.テつ Most people are.テつ Hope I won't.

Q.テつ This is also a crunch time for the Tour.テつ You're playing five‑‑ but it's like a normal time for you.テつ Five four round tournaments in eight weeks.テつ Does there start to be some attrition here too that you see with the fields and that?
ROCCO MEDIATE:テつ The Champions Tour, the weird thing about it so far is the time off in between some of the events, like especially at the beginning of the year.テつ I didn't know what the hell to do with myself.テつ Play two, then a month off.テつ Play two, then three weeks off.テつ I'm like what the hell is going on?
But it's actually perfect because now we kick.テつ If we start in May, we go.テつ It's great.テつ We have 26 events.テつ It's a lot‑‑ I don't know that I played more than 26 on the PGA Tour than a few times in my career in 27 years because actually‑‑ I'm playing them all, more than likely all of them this year because it fits really good.
It's just weird starting off your first year going we have a month off?テつ We never had a month off unless you took it.
But these events are different.テつ This is the most different event on our Tour because it's a U.S. Open, and the conditions should be and are the most difficult we'll face all year.テつ Birkdale could have a little say in that too in two weeks, but like I said, I love coming to these events and the setup, I love seeing what I see already.

Q.テつ And compare today's crowds for a practice round with what you see on a regular Champions event during the tournament.
ROCCO MEDIATE:テつ I already know this is the biggest selling Senior Open in the history of the Senior Open.テつ I already know that.テつ So that's‑‑ there's going to be 250,000 people here this week.テつ We don't get 250,000 people here most‑‑ at least not that I know of, not yet.テつ We have some good crowds too, but it is different.テつ It's totally different.
But they should be here for this.テつ I mean, if I had my choice and I was a spectator, would I want to go watch the other guys, or would I want to go watch my heroes?テつ I'm picking heroes every time.テつ You go watch Mr. Watson play or Mr. Irwin play, they haven't lost a lot.テつ I think Tom hits it as far as he did.テつ I don't know.テつ He used to hit it really far.
Hale said he lost it a little bit, but he can still really play.テつ At 68 years old, it's ridiculous how good he plays.テつ If you look at these guys, I would watch them every single day of the week if I had my choice.テつ I actually do sometimes.
They're the best that ever walked on grass that played golf still.テつ It's ridiculous when you think about it.

Q.テつ You talked about a little bit of a different schedule now being on the Champions Tour.テつ You've had some back issues over the years.テつ Are you feeling healthy now?
ROCCO MEDIATE:テつ I'm good.テつ I've got no issues.テつ It's all my fault now.テつ Can't blame it on my back anymore.
I actually hated that, though.テつ Even in my baddest, worst of injuries, I always said, I can't wait until it's all my fault again because sometimes you can't‑‑ we all have, whatever, injuries, but I had some nice ones that just stopped me from doing it.テつ So I hate that.
I'd rather just play bad myself instead of have a problem with my body.テつ It's all my fault now.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Sounds good.テつ Rocco Mediate is off 8:03 off 10.
ROCCO MEDIATE:テつ It will be a good test.テつ It's going to be an interesting week.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Thank you very much for coming in.テつ We appreciate it.
ROCCO MEDIATE:テつ It's been a while since I've been here.テつ I need to come back Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday.テつ No playoffs.テつ This isn't 18 holes, though.
THE MODERATOR:テつ No, it's not.
ROCCO MEDIATE:テつ Whatever.テつ I'll take them all.

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