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April 13, 2003

Len Mattiace


BILLY MORRIS: Good afternoon, we're delighted to have Len Mattiace with us. Len had a very nice round of 65 today, tied with Mike Weir at the end of 72 holes for the championship. And he lost the playoff on the 10 hole. What is your question? Would you all like to ask Len some questions? He's already responded to some questions outside. Or Len, would you like to just say something?

LEN MATTIACE: Well, I would like to say that this is my second Masters and it was very, very special. And it's a privilege to play here. It's a beautiful place.

Q. When we were outside you had quite an emotional moment. Was that related to the playoff or just what?

LEN MATTIACE: No, not at all, really. Just the whole day. We try and build up to a certain level, a certain focus or a certain intensity. And my wife will tell you that Sunday night I have to crash. Sunday, Monday I have to crash because you want to build up. And I guess that's what I did. The intensity was so high and with the emotions of playing today and executing and shooting a great score, it all just came out. But it didn't have anything to do with the playoff. I know one is going to win and one is going to lose. So I'm okay with that. I'm trying to win. If I don't win, I lose. And that's okay.

MRS. MATTIACE: You cried when our kids were born.

LEN MATTIACE: Yeah, I did. Right. I did. When they still look at me, I cry. But, no it was all, it was the whole week. It was the whole week of being in such a great place.

Q. Do you think maybe a day or two from now or even later on you'll look back and say that, tell yourself you did everything possible to win this tournament and Mike came back and caught you or did you feel like you expended every effort out there?

LEN MATTIACE: I gave it my all today. And what I mean by that is that I didn't get out of my -- I didn't get out of focus. I was right there. My caddy and I, we were focused on each shot. And I did a great job of that, of focusing on each shot, playing each hole and just doing, looking and hitting. And under the utmost pressure and of everything that was going around and the cheers and the crowd was great. That's all you can ask for. And I made some putts and I executed some shots. So it was my best Sunday -- it was my best Major Championship finish ever, obviously, but my best Sunday in a Major ever.

Q. How did you feel after warming up and going back out to the tee? And the other thing is, were the greens any different on 10 from the first time you came through today?

LEN MATTIACE: I felt good. I warmed up and I felt good. I hit a great drive on 10. I felt very focused. I felt fine. No, the greens were similar. Nothing really changed. The putt I had was one of the fastest putts at Augusta, and I didn't putt it the way I should have.

Q. Can you take us just a little bit through the emotion of finishing the round, you're in the lead and going to warm up and how you were trying to keep your focus during all that?

LEN MATTIACE: Well, in a sense it's a great thing to know that you've just basically executed your whole plan today, that everything came together. So I was very happy inside with the completion of basically my plan, the completion of my mission. And I knew that there was a very good chance for a playoff. If Mike made a bogey or something coming in, then so be it. But if he made a birdie, so be it as well. But I was expecting the playoff. So I was very focused to that expectation.

Q. Could you walk us through some of the highlights of the back nine? There was a huge bomb I think on 10 and then maybe those two shots you hit on the par-3 or the par-5 when you made the eagle? I can't imagine you hit two better shots in succession than those?

LEN MATTIACE: Yeah, the putt on 10, it was such a great feeling for the ball to go in. Very tough pin placement there. And then the shot I had on 13, first of all, on the tee I hit a real good drive. That was the best drive I hit all week on that hole to set me up to go for the green. I hadn't gone for the green all three other days. So I hit a beautiful 4-wood. It's funny because I hit a great shot and the ball was one yard from going in the creek. So it's crazy stuff. It stayed up and then the putt was just the way I saw it. But that was a great feeling. And I all week have been practicing the 4-wood off of a right-to-left lie. Practicing it waiting to hit it and when I finally had it I said this is what I've been practicing all this time for and I executed it.

Q. The chip in on number 8, is that when you thought this might be your day when you got that to 3-under?

LEN MATTIACE: Yeah, that was just very lucky and fortunate for the ball to go in. I was looking at 6 and to make 4, but that's what you need. Everybody will tell you when they win, you need the good bounces, you need the things that go in and you need some lucky breaks. So I just kind of chalked it up as a lucky break and kept going. At that point.

Q. You went a very long time in your career before winning a tournament. What did that teach you about perseverance, about keeping believing in yourself?

LEN MATTIACE: For me it's just part of my life. It was about eight years before I won on Tour, which was last year. Just part of growing up. I won at the Junior level, college level, amateur level, and college level and turned pro and I didn't win. And that was okay with me. I just kept trying my best, trying hard, trying to improve. Just keep going. Just keep trying to go further.

Q. You talked about what this Sunday means. You had some pretty good Sundays last year when you won two. How does a Sunday like this, when you played so great and then came up short compare to those? And also in Memphis, for example, you saw Len have some troubles. Do we underestimate how emotional this game is?

LEN MATTIACE: I think it's emotional for people who care. For people who care it's an emotional thing. If you don't care, as well as anything, if you don't care, it's no big deal. But if you care and you really want it and it really goes to your heart, then it's probably going to be emotional, I would think. The emotions come out. It may be emotional to some people inside where you don't see it. But for the emotions to come out, that's maybe part of the individual makeup. But the Sunday today was by far a different feeling than the wins. And the wins are great wins, don't get me wrong, but this was the most special I've ever felt.

Q. Take us through the 18th hole and the playoff hole in terms of what you hit, what your strategy was on the shot?

LEN MATTIACE: The 18th hole I hit kind of a flare-out fade out to the right, not very solid drive. And I was totally blocked out to go for the green. So I pitched out about a 80-yard shot to set myself up for a little 9-iron. And I just turned the 9-iron over a slight hair to go to the back of the green. I had about a 35-footer down the hill, which looked like icing to me. I mean, it looked like ice. And I left that short. And I made the second putt for bogey.

10 I hit a great drive, hit a fantastic drive and I was on a slight downhill right-to-left lie. I hit a 6-iron and just hooked it left of the green. It rolled down into the rough left of the green and directly in my way of the pin was a tree, one of the pine trees. So I couldn't chip it right at the hole, at the pin. So I had to go to the right and if I don't chip it hard enough, it doesn't, it goes up the bank and comes back down. So I knew I needed to get it on the green. And I just chipped it a little too hard and had a very slick putt coming back down.

Q. A left-handed golfer hasn't won a Major in 40 years. If you couldn't win this tournament, are you glad to see a left-hander finally break through?

LEN MATTIACE: Well, I'm a left-hander but I play righty. You notice I'm drinking left-handed here.

Q. Did you switch because you didn't want to be a left-handed golfer?

LEN MATTIACE: I always played right-handed. I eat lefty and write lefty and kick lefty, all the kicking that I do.

(Laughter.) But Mike's a great player and a great champion. He did his thing today and he's a great player.

Q. Was your dad here and were you able to talk to him afterwards and discuss it at all?

LEN MATTIACE: My dad wasn't here. He wasn't here this week, but he was in my heart. I haven't gotten to talk to him yet.

Q. You talked about the zone. You were just looking at the target and hitting it. At any point were you able to leave that zone and appreciate being on the back nine at Augusta National having those tremendous roars at 13 etcetera? At any point did you remove yourself and observe the scene and the emotions?

LEN MATTIACE: I did it as much as I could. And you don't want to take yourself out of the zone and acknowledge and forget where you are. So I did that a little bit. I knew where I was and I knew what I was doing. But I focused more on what I needed to do. And the people were great. I heard the people all day. Walking to the tee, walking off the tee, walking up to the green, it was fantastic. And I acknowledged them because they're a big part of the game. So I think that's the right thing to do.

Q. You talked about this being the most special feeling you've had. Can you take more away from an experience like this than you even can from the wins?

LEN MATTIACE: Well, yeah, I take a lot from this event, no question about it. I hope to draw on this experience for a long time coming. And I look to keep improving and continuing to move up the ladder and compete more. That was one of my goals a few years ago, to be a competitor in the Majors. And this day proved to me that I can do some great stuff.

Q. When you woke up this morning what were you thinking in terms of the tournament being so far back and was there ever a moment out there when you thought about the tournament Players Championship five years ago?

LEN MATTIACE: No, I never thought about the Players Championship. I knew that five shots back, I needed some help from the guys. Obviously, if the guys like Maggert and Weir, if they have a fantastic day, then they're off and going. So I felt like if they're not on their games, I would like to have a make-move day. I would like to make an impact. And my goal today actually I challenged myself to try and make six birdies out there. So that was fun, me continuing my expectation.

Q. A lot of players have web sites with their names on them. Do you have one, Len's Friends? Could you tell us what that is?

LEN MATTIACE: That's a foundation my wife Christine and I started in 2000. This is our third year. And basically Len's Friends Foundation that we started is a foundation to have charity events throughout the year. If I play in pro ams, that designates charity money, all the money that we raise goes into the Len's Friends Foundation and then we give all the money back out to Jacksonville charities, once or twice a year. The money is raised and stays in Jacksonville to be given out to those charities who need it the most. We have raised close to 200,000 in three years for charity.

Q. Can you tell me what technically went wrong with the shot, the tee shot on 18 and the second shot on 10?

LEN MATTIACE: Technically when I -- I was a little bit spin out. So my hips went faster than my hands and the blade stayed open a little bit. And the shot on 10 I basically didn't fade the ball enough off the hook lie.

Q. Were you thinking you had to make the putt on the playoff hole? They were speculating on TV what was going through your mind at that point?

LEN MATTIACE: No, I wasn't thinking I had to make it, I was thinking I would like to make it. But I was trying to get the ball within -- I know it didn't look like it, but I was trying to get the ball within three or four feet of the hole and maybe make it. I was putting so great but that's how bad of a putt it was, to hit it that far by. But nothing different, nothing crazy. I wasn't trying to do anything crazy on it. I just hit it that far by.

Q. You had talked outside about the family support and I was just wondering if you felt that somewhere your mom was smiling on you today?

LEN MATTIACE: You're going to make me cry now.

Q. I was afraid of that.

LEN MATTIACE: I think she was.

Q. It's been a long time since you were here, last time in 1988. Can you talk about your experiences then and what you remember?

LEN MATTIACE: 1988 I was a junior in college and I can tell you every shot I hit.

(Laughter.) I could tell you what bedroom I stayed at the Crow's Nest and what I ate every night. I never got any sleep I was so nervous as a college player.

I was on the Walker Cup team the year before. It was a big privilege to be a player -- to be an amateur golfer to play. So I could go into volumes on that. The first day, the first hole it wasn't as long as it is now but it was a driver and a 3-iron for me. It was straight into the wind. The cut was 151 or 152, I believe that year. It was a really tough playing course at that time. It was a lot of wind. So it was a great experience, but it was super hard for me.

Q. At that point would you have thought you would have had to wait 15 years to have a day like this?

LEN MATTIACE: No, I wouldn't have thought that, being the college stud, you know, that I thought I was. No, I didn't think that.

Q. What would you have thought your career would have been?

LEN MATTIACE: Going out of college, all American, zipping right into the pros and win my first and second year top-30 ever since, all those good things. That's what I was thinking, and/or at least be on the Tour right after college, which was about 1990 I finished school. And my first year was '93, but I didn't get back until '96. So it was slower than I thought.

Q. Along those lines, how did you maintain your belief in yourself when you did struggle?

LEN MATTIACE: Well, a lot of support. I grew up playing the game so the game was in me. And a lot of support. My wife Christine, we got married in '93. That was my first year on Tour. I lost my card. And we struggled for two years after that not getting on the Tour. And when I made Q school we both cried that night. And in '95 I made Q school, Christine was right with me every step of the way and we cried like a baby that night. And back on the Tour in '96 and we have been there ever since. So a lot of support.

Q. Can you summarize the steps that went into the improvement you've made over the last couple years to make a step up? Winning twice last year?

LEN MATTIACE: I continued working with my swing coach, Jim McLean. And we have worked together for now 10 years. Maybe just a step up maturitywise or insidewise to more belief. And just you know how you get -- you go to levels and just a little bit improvement on my game. I felt like two years ago the fall of' 01 that I really felt like my game had jumped a little bit. And I was excited to get to '02. And that's when I won at Riviera, so it was just kind of a step up.

BILLY MORRIS: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you. And Len, congratulations again on a great round of golf and a great Masters and good luck to you in the future.

LEN MATTIACE: Thank you.

End of FastScripts....

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