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July 17, 2013

Rick Rhoden

Billy Joe Tolliver


Q.  Talk about the course and the success you've had and how it fits your eye.
RICK RHODEN:  Like I said, I used to be more of a guy that drew the ball, and as I've gotten older my draw has disappeared a little because I can't turn as good as I used to.  But it's more set up for a guy that fades the ball.  But, I don't know, the strength of my game has always been putting the driver in play and you have to be pretty accurate there.  You get in those trees, bad things happen.  So that's probably why I've played good here, just because I drive, I usually drive the ball good.

Q.  How do you think the course is running this year now that you've gotten a chance to get a feel for it and how has your game been?
RICK RHODEN:  This will be my 21st year.  This is the best the course has ever been.  Especially the greens.  I mean, they're really good for here.  So I think they're a lot faster.  That might cause some problems, but they're much, much better.  So I wouldn't be surprised if somebody‑‑ there's some really good rounds played.

Q.  I've noticed they look a little bit faster.  And also the rumor, word on the street, is you're an incredible golfer on a windy day.  Can you kind of tell us why that might be?
RICK RHODEN:  Well, again, I think years back I was a better player when it was windy, I was a better player all around.  I can play good in spurts now.  I can play good, I just don't play it as often.
I'll play two or three weeks in a row really good, but then it's like I haven't played in a while.  Hopefully this week will be one of those times when I'm playing really good.
I don't think I play good in the wind because I knock the ball down.  I grab more club and don't swing too hard so it doesn't spin much.  That's pretty much how I play in the wind.

Q.  Billy Joe, tell us how your game is, are you ready to play?
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  I'm kind of like Rick, you know, sporadic.  Some days I show up.  Some days I don't.  Hell, I've been hitting it decent.
You know, but you get out there and I guess you guys were talking about before I came in the golf course is in as good of shape as it's ever been.  So there's some chances out there this year.
You're going to have to play well to do it.  A lot of good players in.  Guys have gotten better.  We've got I think Mark Mulder is ready to fire at it.  We'll have to watch him pretty close.  Rypien's playing really well.
A lot of guys.  So about Friday when the lights come on you gotta see if you can flip that switch.

Q.  Harrah's Harveys odds have Dan Quinn listed as the favorite at 7 to 2 followed by Rick 4 to 1.  And Billy Joe at 9 to 2.  Have you gone to your wallet yet?
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  No.  I'm going to wait until everybody passes me and I'll go to like 15 to 1.  And I'll slide over there.  Everybody, you know, they follow me around out there.  They see the wild shots I hit.  It will change.  I'll be like 12 to 1 or something.

Q.  Between the two gentlemen up front there's 11 championships out of 23 in this event.  You guys have the experience.
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  You won it nine times, eight?

Q.  Eight and three.  I think you won it three, Billy.
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  I threw it away about eight times.  (Laughter).

Q.  Would you like to tell us about those days?
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  Fireball whiskey.

Q.  So you mentioned Mulder, who do you‑‑ maybe it's each other, who do you both see as the big competition out there this year?
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  Well, I'm sure Rick seeshe's the competition.  I'm sure I see I am.  I mean, I always feel like if I play my game somebody's going to have to play well.  If I don't, I'm trying to chase Rick and Wagner and Quinn and Smoltze and Elway and all of them.
RICK RHODEN:  I think he's right.  Mulder is going to be in the mix now, I think.  He's got some talent, plus he hits the ball about nine miles.
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  Nine and a half.
RICK RHODEN:  Like I said, if he can keep it in between the trees he'll do okay.  To me, the course is the best it's been.  It's playing slow right now.  It's kind of soft.  So if you hit your driver a long way and put it in play you'll have a big advantage because you don't get much runnout right now.
For a guy like me, I hit some balls a couple of par 5s 30 yards behind where I'm playing from because I don't get roll but it doesn't affect guys like Billy because they can hit in the air.  I think if they can get it in play they have the advantage.  You have to get it into the fairway because those trees are still there.  They're not cutting any of them down.

Q.  As far as Dan Quinn is concerned, defending champion, how much does that help?  Is his confidence higher?  Have you guys talked to him and what do you hear?
RICK RHODEN:  He sees a lot of good golf every week.  So that doesn't hurt.  And he gets around great players.  That doesn't hurt him either.  I don't know how much golf he's been playing.  I know he's not playing when he's caddying, because he's got a full‑time job.
So Danny is going to play good, we know that.  We know the guys who are going to play good and there's always going to be somebody like a Mulder that mixes in.  I think he's ready to win like Billy said.  I think Romo is getting better every year.  Obviously he's not here this year but he's another guy that's got a chance to start winning out here.
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  And you know, Quinn's got a very repeatable golf swing.  He hits the same low cut shot all around this course.  Very consistent.  He's always going to be right there in the hunt.  The same with Wags, Wags hits it really straight.
Like I said, it's the same group of guys with about‑‑ there's probably five guys mixed in that are going to make a run that haven't made a run before.  It's going to be, I suspect it will be a pretty tight Sunday.  And might get our first playoff ever in Stableford format.  Hard to do.

Q.  Rick, the ESPYs are tonight.  If the ACC, American Century had like a historical ESPY award, which award would you win?
RICK RHODEN:  What would I win?  You're the guys that make up the awards.  I don't know.  Most wins, I don't know what the award would be.
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  Most consistent.  How about that.  Most sober.  (Laughter).
RICK RHODEN:  I wouldn't go that far.  I might come across that way, but‑‑ maybe most sleep.  Maybe that's what it would be.  I don't know about most sober.

Q.  Most money?

Q.  Billy, your thoughts on what you would win?
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  I don't know.  I would probably get some award that biggest shot differential on one hole.  Best shot and worst shot.  I don't know.  I've hit them 80 yards off line and then hit the green.  So who knows.  I don't know.
I may get the award for most tournaments thrown away.

Q.  Obviously there's more quarterbacks and pitchers in the field for this tournament year after year.  But what explains pitchers and quarterbacks having the best golf games?
RICK RHODEN:  First of all, they're the best athletes.
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  There you have it.  That explains it.  No need to go further.
RICK RHODEN:  Throwing the baseball is very similar, even though you're doing it overhand, your body action is very similar to hitting a golf ball.  And as far as the football players play, when you get away from the quarterbacks and the kickers, they're all so big it's hard to play.  It's just hard for them to play they're so big and strong.
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  I don't know, these quarterbacks are getting big.  Marcowski now.
RICK RHODEN:  But they're not Jonathan Ogden.
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  That's a different big.
RICK RHODEN:  We finally got some baseball players playing.  We only had five or six.  Now we have 20.  Smoltz is a good player.  I'm the only one that ever won in baseball, right?  And I think there's going to be‑‑ it won't be too far in the future there's going to be more baseball guys winning.
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  What's happened is, of course, you can put a lot of it on Tiger Woods growing the game.  You can put a lot of it on this tournament itself, how everybody looks forward to coming here and everybody's gotten better.
And now you've reached an era now where the guys who were playing in the Tiger Woods era are now retired.  And now they're starting to play tournament golf.
That's where you're getting more in flux of these baseball players in this mix.  And you know just the tournament golf aspect, it's growing on them now because they're getting better and better.  And just in my opinion I would say it's because of the timing of the Tiger Woods era to the retirement of these guys and the popularity of this event.  That's genius.
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  I just made that up.
RICK RHODEN:  That was really up there.

Q.  Supposed to get really warm this weekend, near 90 degrees.  Rick, how much will that change the course conditions and force you to change your game up?
RICK RHODEN:  First of all, this isn't warm.  I live in Florida.
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  I live in Louisiana.
RICK RHODEN:  This is awful nice.  So warm is not going to be a factor here for me.  I don't know.  I think if it gets hot maybe the course will speed up a little bit.  I know that usually the ball goes a little further with the hotter it gets.  That seems to be for me.  That's about the only thing I can see.
I think if it blows like it did yesterday afternoon make a way bigger difference in this heat that you're talking about.

Q.  Billy Joe, you might have a little more competition besides on the golf course with Larry the Cable Guy coming in, I'm not sure who is going to be the good ol' country boy, what do you think?
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  He's more than welcome to take the title.  Dan played a show, I should say Larry the Cable Guy, he played a show at my casino there in Bossier City at the Horseshoe, and we had a nice conversation afterwards.  So he's ready to‑‑ he's ready to come out here and mix it up.  And I don't think his golf's quite ready for it.
But you know he'll have a following.  And I just hope I play it well enough to be far away enough from him.  He's a great guy.  Good addition to the tournament.  I'm glad he's here.

Q.  Both of you have been coming to the tournament for years.  Do you ever get to go out and do something besides‑‑ how much time do you get to spend at the American Century and Tahoe and getting on the lake and the tournament?
RICK RHODEN:  I've been here a few times when I wasn't playing in the golf tournament.  You get opportunity to go around.  This is one of my favorite places.  What's not to like about this place?  Come in the wintertime.  I don't ski; my wife does.  Came here one time with her and in the wintertime it's prettier than it is now.  It's a beautiful place.
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  I'm not a winter guy.  I think it's a prettier now than it is in winter.  But I've done it all.  I mean, over the years I've been out on the lake.  We've been everywhere except for hiking.  I'm not a slave to physical fitness anymore.
I don't care to be the best at exercising, as Kenny Powers would say.  I'm not hiking up in those mountains.
But we've been around.  Like Rick said, we get out here quite a bit over different functions that Harrah's Lake Tahoe does.  There's just a lot to do around here, if you're the outdoors type you want to go search it out.

Q.  Billy Joe, I was curious if you could talk about your thoughts on Colin Kaepernick after his breakout year?
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  I think coming out there were a lot of people really high on him.  I was one of them.  I thought he would be an excellent pro, mainly because he has the fast ball.  He could make any throw on the field.
It's going to be interesting to see what goes on this year.  I mean, don't get me wrong.  I wish him all the luck in the world.  I hope he does great.  I would like to see if it's not my Cowboys, I'd like to see Denver and San Francisco battle or Denver‑‑ I like Green Bay.  There's a lot of them that I like.
But, you know, you saw what happened with Cam Newton, after his first year.  Everybody's going to get a book on him.  And all these defensive coordinators they're sitting back trying to figure out how to stop this read option and all this game.  And now that the running backs can't lower their head and protect themselves, it's going to put different emphasis on the running game with quarterbacks and things like that, because your running backs aren't going to last that long now.
And defenses are out there probably I'm sure being trained to bend Kaepernick's face mask.  Number one, if I was a D coordinator I'd be bending his face back every time he put that ball in somebody's stomach and see how committed he is to running it in the fourth quarter.
Now that Alex Smith is gone, you know, what's Harbaugh's mentality on how many times he's going to risk injury on his quarterback putting him on the edge.  These guys are playing for a lot.  There's a lot at stake.
And I hope he makes it through healthy and everything, but just trust me, they're going to bend his face mask this year.  That means they're going to hit him really hard.  (Laughter).

Q.  Rick, as a former Major League pitcher, what did you think of the standing ovation with everybody with Mariano Rivera?
RICK RHODEN:  I didn't watch the game.  I was at the concert.  I'm surprised he didn't pitch the ninth inning, first of all.  There ain't going to be another one.  I'm sure Jim Leland had his reasons.
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  You had.  If they score three, he may not get in the game.
RICK RHODEN:  Right.  But he's arguably the best of all time.  From my school, you can‑‑ that can be said that I think this guy and Rollie Fingers would be every bit as good as he was if they did come in to pitch only one inning get a save; they came in when they played, you pitched, come in seven with bases loaded, out, and save the game.
So it's a different game.  But he's great.  There's no doubt about it.  And that doesn't surprise me.  I mean, I played on teams where guys like Willie Stargel, last trip through the league, they retired everybody they knew.  And before every game he'd get first game the last trip into a town, same stuff would happen.  It shows that the players respect what he did and what kind of guy he is.

Q.  What do you think about Jeremy Roenick's chances this year, Billy Joe Tolliver?
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  He'll be out there.  He's a good player.  It depends with Jeremy, if his wires start touching, he'll short out on you.  You gotta watch him.  He might short‑circuit you.  If he doesn't, he will be all right.  I'd like to add to Rick, with Rivera, it showed last night what kind of class he has for everybody to do that that commands a lot of respect.
And like Rick was talking about, for a guy to, a guy to be as successful as he was or is for so long with one pitch and they can't hit it, you know, they're going to ground ball it, that's pretty impressive.
RICK RHODEN:  There's nothing showing that he couldn't keep on doing it.  I just think he's 20‑‑ 37 years is enough, I guess.  I don't know how many he's got, 23 or something.
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  Only been playing 45 years.
RICK RHODEN:  I think he's probably pretty good with quitting.

Q.  Question on the lighter side.  Tahoe is known for its bears.  I don't know if you've seen any, but if a bear came crashing out of the woods at you, would you be considered wrestlers or runners?
RICK RHODEN:  I can't run, so I just try to get away let one of the spotters, the people in the T box get between me and the bear.
BILLY JOE TOLLIVER:  I would hope that I would be in Rick's group because I don't have to be the fastest guy, I just gotta outrun Rick.  That's pretty simple.  (Laughter).
I don't know why people are getting chased by bears.  Why don't you just get behind a tree and let him run you around in a circle until he says, all right, forget it, I'm going to go find a fox or something.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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