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Mark Calcavecchia Saturday Masters Press Conference Transcript

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MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Sure. It was a good day. I really hit the ball good today. I drove it great, which I had not been doing the first two days, and hit a lot of good iron shots and made a few putts. But, really, obviously I'm happy with my score and my position, but I did miss a few easy putts that I perhaps could have made, but again, I made a few that I really wasn't expecting to make. But as far as my swing goes, I felt great, and, you know, I'm just -- I achieved a lot of confidence out of today's round, based on the way I hit the ball. So, I'm looking forward to tomorrow.
 
Q. Did you feed off Darren at all? Until he had that double, he was doing pretty well, as well.
 
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Darren got off to a good start. He was a couple under through five and played great on the front. Had a few birdies but a bad break on 7 when he made a bogey. You know, he's such a nice guy, and we're friends, anyway. You know, when you hit a good shot, he'll tell you, 'Good shot.' We had a few laughs out there. But as far as feeding off him, not really. I was still trying to get around there as best I could. When I birdied 10 and 11, I realized I set myself up to have a good day with those two holes. I got one birdie on 13 and was kind of looking for another one or two coming in, but that was in.
 
Q. It looked like the last four holes, you had birdie putts and two of them looked like you pushed them, on 18 and on 15?
 
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Exactly. I sure did. I had them read both perfectly, too. That was one of the couple putts I was talking about. I had about a seven-footer on 15, just a right-center putt just straight up the hill. Yeah, I pushed it. 16, I just didn't hit it hard enough. I had it read right. It was a big sweeper right-to-left. On those sometimes you know it is going to be fast down by the hole, but because you are putting it up into the hill before it starts breaking, it is actually almost uphill first and the second I hit it I knew I didn't hit it hard enough. 17, I hit a great putt and I just misread it. I didn't think it was going to break that much. 18, I was all over the read there, and I pushed it about a ball, and that's about what it missed by.
 
Q. There are three guys up there with you and DiMarco and Rocco who use unconventional putting strokes. Given the nature of this golf course is it about technique or about confidence?
 
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Goes to show you, there's a lot of different ways to get it in the hole on the green. I learned that a long time ago. I even remember when everybody looked at Rocco like he was nuts, ten or -- however many years ago that was when he won at Doral with a long putter. He said the same thing. He says, 'I don't care what I look like. I just want the ball to go in.' It's more about what, you know, and it's about what you feel you can do your best with. Yeah, between me and Chris and Rocco, we've got a couple of funky grips and a long putter. So, it's interesting.
 
Q. You've waited a long time to get back in position going into Sunday with a chance to win, probably since 88. What does it feel like now that you are there?
 
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: It feels good, basically, because, you know, I am 40, and although I do have a lot of good golf left in me, assuming my body doesn't completely fall apart, I wanted to have a shot to win another major championship eventually. You know, depending on what Tiger does in the last three -- whether I'm two, nine, or three behind or whatever he does, you know, I'm I know I'm going to have to play a great round tomorrow, but I do have the chance to do that. The confidence that I have in my putting and my swing, now -- I get confidence in a hurry. It only takes me about two or three good shots in a row and all of the sudden I feel like I can play again. I hit a lot of good shots today. What's even more important, I knew I was going to hit them good before I hit them. So I have the capability to shoot a good score tomorrow.
 
Q. What's the difference between you in 1988 and today on this course, and the way you play?
 
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Well, not much, really, on this course. 1988, I'm sure I hit the ball better tee-to-green now than I did in 1988, but in the late 80s, I was pretty much amazing around the greens and putting. My short game was just phenomenal for about a three or four-year period there, from '87 to 90. That's pretty much what got me through. Now, my short game is very good again, but my tee-to-green game is probably the best it has ever been. So, that's the main difference. The only thing that I really have a hard time doing, obviously is hitting draws with my driver, which does hurt me on occasion, and it hurts me on a few holes out here, but I can go ahead and turn my 3-wood a little bit and get by that way.
 
Q. Since then, has your short game been peaks and valleys?
 
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Yeah, it's -- you know, throughout the 90's it was average, at best for three or four years, and then from about '95 or'96, really, through '99, it was down-right bad. My putting was horrific, three or four years in a row, I finished 170-something on the Tour in my putting stats. It was so bad, even when I putted good, I could not get any confidence, because I knew I was going to start putting bad eventually sooner or late. Now when I have a bad putting day, it's like, well, I'm just having a bad putting day, but I'm still putting good. That's the big difference. I've always been pretty good around the greens as far as chipping and bunker shots and things. But it is all about putting out here. It really is.
 
Q. How many teachers, grips putters, etc., Did you go through during that stretch?
 
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: I've just been with Butch Harmon since '94 and Peter Costas from '85 to '94. So really only a couple of teachers. But I had a lot of suggestions in the mail, gadgets and things. Like Tom Watson, he gets a couple hundred putters sent to him one year from people thinking they had the answer for him. I kept searching, tried a lot of grips, cross-handed, split-handed, the whole thing. Finally, when I came up with this grip, it felt good immediately.
 
Q. If Tiger is up two or three shots, what are the odds on you and the other guys catching him?
 
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Well I've got to be honest with you, I would not mind seeing him stay at 12, or 11, even -- I don't know if I should say that. Anyway, say he finishes at 12-under, that means somebody, unless Cabrera makes a birdie or Chris or whatever -- Chris did birdie 16. Anyway, we've got to beat him by 2 or 3- to win the tournament, and that's -- that's very doable. Tiger is a human being just like the rest of us and he's going to be out there nervous, also. However, he is the best in the world and he has that going for him - (Laughter.) - Which is nice.
 
Q. Have you been in any tournaments where you and Tiger have played coming down at the end at all?
 
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: No, we haven't. Last year in Spain, we were paired in the last group, and we both basically had a shot. We both birdied 10 and 11, and I think at that time was tied for the lead and one back with Mike Weir or whatever it was. So we both had a shot there, but we basically both self-destructed on 17 and 18. But that was the only time.
 
Q. Haven't you and Tiger become pretty good friends and how did that evolve?
 
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Yeah, we're good friends. I think a lot -- it helps, obviously, to have the same teacher in Butch Harmon, because we play practice rounds together. It's good for me, even though Tiger likes to play before the sun comes up in his practice rounds, it's good for me because Butch is there a good amount of time, especially the big tournaments. Any time I can get in with Butch to make sure my swing is in decent shape is good. And I think he kind of gets a kick out of me, in a way, somebody that's a little bit different, a little bit off the cuff, so to speak. We get along real well. I'm not afraid to, you know, tell him what I think.
 
Q. Do you appreciate this place more now than in 1988?
 
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: That's a hard question. I mean, sitting here in this chair right now, I might say, yeah, but had I shot a pair of 77s, I would have told you no. I've always said, hey, wherever you are playing good, I love. If you asked me what my favorite tournament is, I've got to say the Phoenix Open, especially like the day after. (Laughter.) But I always loved playing here. I missed playing here last year. I definitely missed it. I wished I was here. Turns out I ended up going skiing with my kids in Sun Valley and that was fine. But this is where I wanted to get back to. I realized this is a tournament that, you know, the most prestigious tournament in the world most likely and easily the funnest tournament to watch on TV. What happens on the back nine is just really exciting and it is fun to be part of that again.
 
Q. Have you guys played a practice round or two this week, you and Tiger?
 
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: We didn't. Phil Mickelson asked me to play. He called me Monday and asked me to play with John Huston on Tuesday and we teed off early. Turns out we only played six holes because of the bad weather. But Tiger and Mark and Notah Begay teed off right in front of us, and Tiger I think thought I would join him. I knew he would be out here early, he always is, and I am, too. Then we got rained out, too, so naturally, at that time, I was rubbing Phil through the first six holes, so we had to continue the match, which he probably birdied eight of the last 12 on Wednesday. So that took care of me there. No, I didn't play with Tiger this week.
 
Q. No inner-group rivalry going on?
 
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: No.
 
Q. You've been one of the Top-50 money winners since '87. What is the significance of that for you?
 
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: That's good. I think I've only missed three, TOUR Championships since 1987, you know, which is also good. Kind of a tribute of the way I play tee-to-green, because even when I was putting bad, I was still good enough to, you know, get by. I was not winning any tournaments. I only one, you won one in '92, one in '95, one in '97 one in '98. A few in seven years isn't that much, really, at least by my standards. It's a nice stat/number, but that's all it is.
 
Q. When Chris showed you the grip, did you just not like the hand that way and you changed it?
 
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: He didn't even really show it to me. I saw it from about 90 yards away and I knew how he gripped it and I was putting horrendously at the TPC last year and I tried it and I thought, well, that feels a little queer, and I just gradually -- instant under, because I had a case of the yips, so to speak, especially the short ones. I was twitchy. I could feel it. And I just got my wrist under here so far, got the normal left-hand grip that I just locked it in there, so I didn't have a case to do this (indicating shaking) because it was just in there like that. Right off the get-go, I made a 25-footer on No. 1 Friday at the TPC; and then a 15-footer on the next hole; and a 10-footer at the next hole. And I just had this big old grin on my face that I pretty much knew that I had found my putting grip.
 
Q. This year or last year?
 
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Last year.
 
Q. Will the conditions have to stay the same for the other guys to have a chance? If they get tougher does that just play into Tiger's game?
 
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: That's a hard question to answer. Obviously, Tiger is great in any kind of weather, but I would probably say if conditions were fairly tough, you know, like if we had some breeze, like we did earlier in the day, really, the first five or six holes it was blowing pretty good out there, and then it pretty much laid down. But if conditions were more on the tough side, it might be more to an advantage of us guys trying to chase him.
 
Q. During that whole Phoenix thing when the birdies are coming left and right, did you believe what was going on?
 
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Well, I do remember thinking to myself: 'Well, I'm doing something special here.' I didn't slap myself, but I said, 'Oh, forget it. Don't worry about what kind of special thing you're doing. Just go out and keep doing it.' I knew I was playing well coming into that tournament. I told my mom, 'I've got it,' type thing. I'm not hitting it as good as I was then, but I'm very comfortable with what I'm doing now, and it kind of reminds me of the way hit it that week. This isn't the Phoenix Open; it's the Masters. We'll see what happens out there tomorrow. But I'm really, really confident right now with my swing.
 
Q. Is it better for you to be in the final group tomorrow with Tiger or in the next to last group -- not that you have a choice?
 
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: I'd like to play with him in the last group. When we played -- we were not in the last group in Spain. We were about the third-to-last group, I think. Maybe second-to-last. But it was the same sort of feeling, I felt fine. I got right up on the first hole and just bombed one down middle. Tiger doesn't make me nervous himself or his presence or anything else. But that would be a hoot to be in the last group with him.
 
Q. You talked about having a case of the yips. How bad did it get at the worst point?
 
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: I think a putt from here to here, these two water bottles, there's about a 50/50 chance of me making it. In other words, anything outside of 18 inches was 50/50. That's how bad it was. (Laughter.)
 
Q. You said yesterday that this was a place that you are always in a hurry to get to, but sometimes in a hurry to get out of. How much has this place been a test of your ability to control your emotions and a test of your temperament?
 
MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Obviously, I've gotten a lot better at that. Doesn't mean I still don't get mad, and I do, and we all do out here. I did do a real good job of mentally preparing myself; although, my swing wasn't where I wanted it in the early part of the tournament. And I double-bogeyed the first hole right off the get-go-go. That certainly wasn't what I needed to start off with, but just hung tough and made a bunch of pars because I knew I really didn't have it. Lucked in a couple of putts. In the next round, I was back to even; considering doubling the first hole and not playing very well, was pretty good. So I did a real good job in the early part of the week of bracing myself up to be super patient.