2001 US Open - Rocco Mediate News Conference Transcript

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ROCCO MEDIATE: It was just a wild day is what it was. It was very exciting. This morning I got up and played -- well, I started on 14 green and played the next four holes, and I finished good there. And then went home, relaxed, family was home for a while, then they went to day-care, and came back out. It was a long day. But the conditions were -- this afternoon was tricky in spots, but it wasn't bad. The pins were very fair today. It was just -- I don't know, it was a very exciting day for me. I've never been this close, and to perform -- I performed good today as far as getting the score on the card, it was a lot of fun doing that. I was surprised some of the time, and then -- I felt good out there. So I wasn't like nervous or shaky, it was fun. So, hopefully, I can do that tomorrow.
 
Q. Two questions: Outside you said that you almost decided not to play this week, but you said it wasn't a back problem. Can you tell us what that was about? And the long putt you made for birdie, the approach you hit really was, without doubt, you don't have a shot. Can you talk about that hole?
 
ROCCO MEDIATE: First thing is I just had something weird in my hip, my left hip. And on Thursday morning I really almost couldn't play. And I'm so sick of this happening, because it's happened since I've been hurt. My caddy kind of convinced me, he said -- because I was almost going to withdraw. I really didn't want to make a fool of myself, because this golf course will do that quickly. And I got it around unbelievably. I was shocked. I couldn't believe I shot 1-over par. He said, 'If you get it around today, maybe the next couple of days, who knows.' So now he looks real smart. That's what happened. But it's not a serious thing, it was just a weird little thing came up. And it's pretty much gone now. 16, I hit a pretty good drive, really. The left bunker is not bad. I can't drive it far enough to get it up in the left bunker as far as chipping out and stuff. I hit a pretty good drive, just kicked left. And it was just a regular old 6-iron and I hit a pretty good shot there. And then I was just trying to lag up there close, and it fell in. It happens every once in a while. But it was kind of cool.
 
Q. Rocco, you said out there that you've never been under the kind of pressure that you know you're going to be under tomorrow. What's the closest you've come to what you imagine tomorrow will be like, and what do you remember about how you handled it?
 
ROCCO MEDIATE: You know, I don't know that I've been in anything like tomorrow. I was close -- I was like in 7th or 8th place going into the final round at Augusta. But that wasn't like this. We weren't going to beat Tiger, so it didn't matter where you were, really, or at least I wasn't. There's nothing that could prepare me, except for myself. Like I said, I was talking outside, I felt -- I knew I was close to the lead coming in the back 9 and I felt really good, even though I hit a few bad shots, I got it up-and-down. I think those shots are the most nerve-wracking, the shot on 17 -- the bunker shot on 14 was silly. I didn't think I could get it within 20 feet and I hit it 10. That's where I'm most -- I felt like I was going to be most nervy, and it was pretty fun. I just took myself out of what was going on and just played. I've got to do that all day tomorrow. So it will be tough. It will be fun.
 
Q. Rocco, of the players within three or four strokes of the lead I believe you're the only one whose caddy has won a major, is that just trivia or is there value there?
 
ROCCO MEDIATE: There's definitely value. One thing Pete does for me, and I think all good caddies do, and it's not just Pete, but one thing he does the best for me is makes the most intensive shots seem normal. His demeanor never changes. Very rarely gets excited. A couple of times I got him a little excited out there today. But it takes some kind of weird thing happening, like the putt on 16 or shot on 17 for him to get excited whatsoever. He doesn't let that happen. That bleeds into me. I'm not calm most of the time, I'm up-and-down all the time. But I've gotten better over the 16 years I've been out here. And today I showed myself and Pete that. He's taught me very well the last three years to keep it where I'm going -- like on 18 Phil kind of said, 'Who's away?' I said, 'I am', and I felt like I was holding him up. And Pete goes, 'Slow down, relax, it's not a big deal.' And I hit a really good 3-iron. Stuff like that, little things like that, immeasurable things, who knows what they mean. I don't know.
 
Q. Two things, Rocco. First, how long was the putt on 16, exactly?
 
ROCCO MEDIATE: Well, the pin was 16 yards on, and I was about five, six paces into the green. So 30 feet, something like that. Somebody said it was 75 feet, I said, 'No, it wasn't'.
 
Q. Talk about Stewart Cink, and how you think he's going to hold up.
 
ROCCO MEDIATE: Stewart's game was built for this kind of golf tournament. I don't know him well, I don't know him that well, but his golf swing and game seem to be built for the U.S. Open, because he's steady, steady, steady, steady, boring, down the middle. He's very good. I'm not surprised he's up there at all. I think he's been a good player since he came out on Tour. And I'm not surprised at how he's playing. I don't know how he played today. I know he shot good, but I'm sure there wasn't many mistakes tee-to-green for him, because he's really good tee-to-green.
 
Q. Did you spank one into the gallery on the par-5?
 
ROCCO MEDIATE: Yeah, on 13 I was trying to go completely insane vertical with a 4-iron and I pulled it a tad. And I was going over that bunker, there. And I hit a guy right in the, whatever, shin. And it stopped in the rough. And it would have probably been much worse if it didn't hit him, but it was in a pretty nasty spot. I said, 'Did anybody get hurt?' And it was a big welt. I felt terrible. I hit this silly up-and-down thing over the bunker. I went over and said, 'Do you even want this? I wouldn't want it if he hit me.' And he said, 'Oh, thanks.' I said 'I'm very sorry.' How can I stop it? They're all so crowded there, and they couldn't hear us, anyway. I think he saved me at least a shot. Who knows.
 
Q. What are you most happy about over these first three rounds, the way you've hit the ball or the way your short game has been?
 
ROCCO MEDIATE: I'm happy about how I've handled the entire situation. I've hit it good in spots and I've hit it in crazy spots, and that's just me. But my short game, my putting has kept me alive. And that's what I've done better this year than I've ever done. As far as the way I've handled it, I haven't gotten too excited or down or up, I'm just trying to -- I'm not trying to get -- I've got one more hard day tomorrow, and I'm going to try to do my best to win this thing. It's going to be tough. I've never had a shot at it, and I'm never going to have much more. I'll only play another 10 or 15 years. I probably won't have six more chances to win the Open, who knows.
 
RAND JERRIS: Could you take a couple of moments and walk us through your birdies and bogeys for the round.
 
ROCCO MEDIATE: What did I birdie? I birdied 6. I had an 8-iron about ten feet, maybe. Real nice 8-iron. And then I bogeyed 10. I hit it in the left rough, this far in the left rough, dead. And I almost made par. I missed about a 10-footer for par, I hit a pretty good chip. Hit it close on 11 to about six feet. And I pushed it up over the bunker on 13, and made about a 4-footer, right over a big spike mark, just huge. 16, I made the silly 30-footer over the hump, broke six or seven feet.
 
Q. What did you hit on that?
 
ROCCO MEDIATE: 8-iron.
 
Q. Does Tiger's struggles on this course this week give the rest of the players a different feeling about their chances in any way?
 
ROCCO MEDIATE: I don't know what they think, but it doesn't make any difference to me. If Tiger is up there leading by whatever, then we don't have any chance to win. But if he's close, there is a chance to win. I mean, maybe some guys don't think that, but I do. I enjoy that situation playing with him. Not that I play with him that many times in the hunt in any major. But in other tournaments I have, and I've enjoyed it. And I played my best golf that day. The fact that he's not, I never noticed. He's just showing that you that every blue moon he becomes human. And this is one of those weeks. I don't know what he shot today. 69. So who knows, he might have a 62 in his bag, I don't know. If anybody can -- but that's here nor there, it's just a matter of going out tomorrow and getting the job done somehow.
 
Q. How much of your ability to handle the situation is because you've been out here a while?
 
ROCCO MEDIATE: I'm sorry, I was in a daze. Say that one more time?
 
Q. How much of your ability to handle the situation is the fact that you've 38 and you've been out here a while and been doing it a while?
 
ROCCO MEDIATE: Yeah, I've been there enough times and I've been in enough tournaments to know what makes me work. I've just got to take my -- I don't know how to explain it. When I get a little excited out there I'll tend to swing harder. Probably most of us do, not just me. And if I can catch that and try to slow things down as far as not slow, but slow everything else, my tempo and everything down, I perform pretty good. And I'm learning that. The 18th tee shot was a prime example. I mean, I was just trying to put it up that left side with a low draw. And I just went through it and I did exactly what I wanted to do. I felt like if I hit it high it would go through the fairway, because I hit it almost through the fairway this morning. And then the 3-iron was the same way. I'm learning now more. Yeah, I'm 38, and I've been out here a while, and I've been semi-successful, I'm way more successful than I thought I'd ever be. I should be able to do that by now. And tomorrow, yeah, if anybody tells you it's just another tournament, they're lying, it's not another tournament, it's the Open. And I'll treat it as such.