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AMERICAN CENTURY CELEBRITY GOLF CHAMPIONSHIP

July 20, 2003

Rick Rhoden Jack Wagner

STATELINE, NEVADA

PHIL WEIDINGER: Rick, congratulations. Your sixth win in 14 tries, first time under the Stableford. You said early on in the week that it because probably going to take about 75 points to win, and you said yesterday that you if you shot 30 today, you probably would be in the hunt.

RICK RHODEN: Yeah, I knew I was going to have to shoot a good round today, because I figured Jack or Bart, one or both of them would play well. And Bart got off to a not-so-good start and I got off to a really good start, birdies on the first four holes. I was hoping I could cut it in half by nine holes and I was down by one shot at one point on nine holes, and I made a nice putt on 10 and that got me in the lead.

I hit a lot of balls close. I missed one green today and got it up-and-down. Yesterday I didn't miss any greens. Last two days, I played really about as good as I could. Obviously, we always think you can make more putts but I got, what did I have, the last two days I hit ten birdies and an eagle, so I don't think I should complain.

Q. So after Friday, two spectacular days like you said, new system --

RICK RHODEN: I'm not that crazy about the Stableford. But after Friday, I told my wife, I said, if we were playing regular golf, I would be nine shots back, and that's a lot of shots. Even though I was 12 points back, when you can get six with one hole, you've got a chance.

The big turning point for me was when I made the eagle yesterday on 18. It's a big difference in being six points behind and nine points behind. Now, that was really big, and today I knew -- I wasn't trying to think what points. I was thinking if I shot 66, if I could get six birdies, I would have 30 points. And that's kind of what I was trying to do. I got off to a great start. The way I started off playing, I figured i might shoot better than that, and I could have, but just didn't happen.

Big thing, too, I figured Jack Wagner would make that putt on 18. He's a great putter. He had not made any hardly all day and I was counting him on making that and I knew I had to 2-putt. If I 2-putt, I win, no matter what he did. And I hit a really good first putt, because that was not an easy putt from back there. That was on the line and got it down there within like a foot, 18 inches or something and that was a big putt.

Q. How hard was the putt on 18?

RICK RHODEN: It was a lot further than I thought it would be. It had to be at least 40 feet, I don't know. I hit a 7-iron from 184 and went about 195. I don't know, maybe a was a little excited, I don't know. When I hit it, in the air, I knew it wasn't in the water, but I figured, this is okay, but I thought it was maybe only 20 feet long and I get up there and I'm like, holy cow.

I don't 3-putt a lot. I might not make a lot of birdies with long putts, but I'm a pretty good lag putter.

Q. They said over 14 years of this tournament, and the other two guys, Bartkowski, Tolliver they say it's the easiest it has played?

RICK RHODEN: I don't agree with that. I think the course was in great shape. I think they have started making it a little harder. They have stretched out some holes. You can't hit 4-iron off No. 8 anymore. Now you've got to hit 3-wood. You can't hit a lot of those shots; you've got to hit driver. 15, in fact, 14, in fact, I think they are hard. Some of the pins we don't get the pin on 12 in the little mold like we used to and you've got a 2-putt on top. Now they put it on top of the mold now. I think the course might have played good because it was in good shape, but I think they have made it harder.

Q. You came to 18 and you didn't have it clinched yet. If you par, you're in trouble; did that cross your mind that that could happen?

RICK RHODEN: Well, I knew exactly what could happen. The big thing was when Jack didn't birdie 16, because he would have been 2-down; and then if I par and he birdies, it's a tie. When he stayed at 4, I can't lose if I get a birdie and that's what I was playing for. I didn't hit the greatest drive. Kind of toe-hooked it a little bit and that was a good shot for that hole and didn't get it down there good. I just needed to hit a good iron shot, a solid shot just to get it on the green. I'm assuming he's going to make birdie. He hit a great drive and killed it down there. He's a great player. I assume he was going to make eagle, too. I just knew if I made a birdie, I could do it.

Q. What is it about odd years?

RICK RHODEN: I've had pretty good some even years and not won and some not so good odd and not won. I've never played three days like I played the last two here. I've played that well but haven't scored that well. You know, three days of golf, you can play two really nice days and one okay day and you've got a good chance.

Q. Describe how you felt at the end of day one; how did you feel your chances of recovery were?

RICK RHODEN: Well, I didn't feel real good about it, I can tell you that. That was the worst round of golf I'd played in about six months. You know, all I did was say, you know, I shot 65 here before, I shot 66 a few times. You know, it's there; I can get to all of the par 5s now. I don't know if that's because I've gotten a little stronger or the equipment or what. I can reach all the par 5s and never used to really be able to reach them all. I knew I had a chance for eagle and just knew if I shot it, you get 30 points the second day, you could get in the hunt and that's what I got. Today I knew I had to do it again. Fortunately I got off to a good start.

Q. Your thoughts on 16 on your putt after your recovery?

RICK RHODEN: You mean when I hit it out of the sand trap? I hit a really good drive and just got unlucky. It was in the rough and I had an empty lie and Jack hit first, gets on the green and I'm assuming birdie. I had a nice lead. I wanted to get a point there for sure. And I had a good enough lie where I could hit an iron and I figured I could get it down around the green. I played kind of to the right, because the big tree left when you have the rough there, it will grab your club and hit it left. If I went in the bunker, I knew more than likely I would get out with a par and maybe get a birdie. I had a long bunker shot and made a nice bunker shot there. I thought I hit a pretty good putt, but it was off-line. It was pretty beat up around that hole from all the guys walking around the hole, and that's pretty easy to see when everybody missed their putts.

Q. Is this your anniversary?

RICK RHODEN: Yeah, this is our 12th year. We got married in '91, a week after we played here in '91.

Q. Some of the other guys are saying the first four holes on this golf course kind of make a difference in who wins. The way you played, do you feel that's true?

RICK RHODEN: I don't know. If you can get a birdie on 1 or 2, you assume you're going to get at least one on 3 or 4. Today I hit two terrific drives and I had like two four-foot putts and I made them.

Then on 3 I hit a really good 3-wood and it hung up just on the bunker. I hit a pretty good chip and I had one of those little four-foot putts that are fast and break about two balls. I just hit it too hard.

But I got off it a great start. I had a lot of birdie putts today, a lot of birdie putts.

Q. What do you think do of Rickey Henderson revitalizing the Dodgers?

RICK RHODEN: Well, how long has he played, a week or two? He maybe has them revitalized now. Let's give him a month or two. Rickey's great. I played with him two years. He's one of those guys that Rickey can do about anything you want him to on the baseball field. I haven't seen Rickey since I played with the Yankees, but he's a little different from everybody else. He's kind of like the Nolan Ryan of the leadoff guys.

Q. Do you feel you have an advantage having won this tournament so many times before, did you feel it coming down the stretch that you had an advantage over Wagner and Bartkowski and everybody else?

RICK RHODEN: I think Jack has played in the last group a lot here in our events. It always helps when you've won tournaments or you've had to make shots at the very end. The shot on 18, I hit the second shot, you've got to get it on dry land, the fairway, but you've still got to make that shot. It's never comfortable. I'm sure it was a lot more comfortable for me this year than it would have been ten years ago. I've had to do that now quite a bit. It wasn't the greatest shot in the world, but the object is to get it on the green.

Q. How rewarding is this considering what you've gone through with the Monday qualifiers and missing the cut at the Open by one, coming out and winning the tournament?

RICK RHODEN: That's a completely different animal. I don't even think about that in relationship to our celebrity events. That's a goal of mine that I'm trying to get to. I love our celebrity events. We play ten or so all around the country. We all have a great time. It's a good group of guys. Over the years we have all become good friends and their families are friends. We know each other's kids and stuff. I love playing the celebrity golf.

I would like to be able to get out and play on the Champions Tour, but so do 2,000 other guys, and it's a hard thing to do. You have to go through that qualifying and that qualifying, you have a round like I had yesterday at the qualifying and you're done, because it's four rounds. Unless you had three like I had in a row, and that's pretty hard to do.

It's a really hard thing to do to play out there. I think if I can get out there and if I can play in 25 events, I think I could stay out there, but you've got to earn your way out there.

Q. You mentioned becoming friends with all of the guys out here, I heard you say something on TV about Brody, giving him some well wishes?

RICK RHODEN: Yeah, I thought to myself coming in today that if I was to win that I wanted to kind of dedicate it to John Brody because John has not been around in a couple of years. Saw him last year in San Diego. Haven't even him about a year. Talked to Chris Chandler about him and he keeps us informed. I know he was watching on TV and just wanted to let him know we were thinking about him.

Q. How is he doing?

RICK RHODEN: I think you have to ask Chris. I think he's doing about as good as can be expected.

Q. So what's next for you?

RICK RHODEN: I'm going in two weeks, not tomorrow, but the following Monday, I'm going to Boston to try to qualify. And if I don't get in there, we have an event in Dayton that week. I go there. And then the following week there's one in Minnesota. So I'm going to be chasing it around. Hopefully I'll get a sponsor's exemption or two maybe before the end of the year.

Q. Do you plan to do that the rest of the season?

RICK RHODEN: Yeah, between our events and those.

Q. Could they make this course any tougher?

RICK RHODEN: They could always make it tougher. They could move it back. They have moved it back over the years. It's probably about 7,000 yards now. To me, the harder they make it, the more advantage the better players have. It's kind of like when they lengthened Augusta, it takes out a lot. If you want to make it where it's competitive, shorten it. Then you get a lot of guys in there.

Q. What do you feel you need to do with your game to get out on the Champions Tour?

RICK RHODEN: I'm a mediocre putter. Jack can tell you that. I have my days, but I have to putt better.

JACK WAGNER: Just before he goes, you know he probably could have shot 63 or 64 today. He was within about eight or ten feet four times or more and never was in jeopardy of a bogey. It was a very excellent round of golf that could have been really something.

So, I mean, I was still in at the end, but he could really, really have shot 63 or 64. Great round.

Q. Jack, tell us about your round and the big shot on 18, what was going through your mind besides make it?

JACK WAGNER: Well, once Rick hit it about a foot, I kind of was a little tentative with my putter. Most of the day yesterday, I made 7 birdies, and today I made 2. So just was two different days, two different putting strokes and I didn't hit it close. I just never gave myself a chance to go low.

18, had I made that, I guess puts a little more pressure on his one-foot putt, but I guess, you know, just missed it on the high side. A little tentative.

Q. How did the course play today?

JACK WAGNER: Course played pretty easy. I said yesterday after the round, I said "tomorrow is a different day." I mean a lot of people went low yesterday, but Sunday, any golf tournament is just a different kind of round. I was probably proof of that. I just didn't take advantage of the length and this altitude and didn't hit it close enough. You really have to go at the flag at every hole.

Q. What were you thinking when Rick made those three birdies right at the start? Did you feel more pressure?

JACK WAGNER: Not much, no, because I birdied 3, and 4 is a par 5 and it's reachable. I anticipated somebody coming off around 44, 45 strong early, and you have to, and Rick was the one who did. But that didn't bother me at all because I expect it. I just didn't respond.

Q. You said yesterday that those guys, John and Bart and some of these guys might have a little more experience coming down the stretch; do you feel that Rick outplayed you or do you think you gave it up?

JACK WAGNER: Well, I'm not taking anything away from Rick, but I certainly didn't put up any type of battle. I mean, I really felt I could shoot 66 or 67 or 68 today, which is what I felt I needed to shoot. And I just couldn't -- didn't quite feel comfortable over the shots.

You sit and you listen to Tiger Woods some days, and he even says: Some days, it doesn't feel right; you're going to hit everything left, so you aim a little right. And that was one of those days. I never got off. Really, I hit the driver good, I was in play, but just couldn't hit my irons near the pin. When the guy that moves past is putting from eight feet all day and you're putting from 30, you're just trying to hang on till you get a little run going and can kind of knock one in.

And 16 was a big hole for me. I hit a 3-iron in there, was hooking towards the hole, it hit towards the front of the green and should have released, I felt should have released probably eight or ten feet. It just hit a soft spot, let me 40 feet and I 3-putted. That really was the key. Once I hit that ball and it's hooking at the hole, I felt I was going to make eagle. You walk up, you've got 40 feet, I just didn't hit a good first putt or second. I could have made it a really interesting tournament there had I gotten back to within a point or two.

Q. Any of you guys talking about getting together to try to get Rick get onto that Champions Tour?

JACK WAGNER: I hope he gets on it, not because of this tour. I think he's a good player. He probably would bring something to that tour in terms of a good story, a former pitcher playing on that tour.

Rick, as he said, he needs to be a better putter. He could have shot nothing today. He just did what he had to do to win, because I certainly wasn't putting anything up. But if he gets to be a better putter consistently -- that's why PGA TOUR pros are out there consistently, they are putting 28 putts a round, and if they hit it good on this golf course, they would shoot nothing out here, zero.

Q. How far did you have in on 18, because you killed the drive.

JACK WAGNER: I hit my 9-iron fat. I probably should have hit a hard wedge. I don't know, I probably had 154 in I think. So I probably hit it, what, 360 off the tee or something, I don't know. I nutted it because I knew if I could get off, if I could get off here; and I did I hit a good drive and I hit a 9-iron 12 feet and didn't make it.

Q. 12 feet was that putt?

JACK WAGNER: Probably. Glad I hit it fat.

Q. What are you doing professionally?

JACK WAGNER: The Bold and the Beautiful, CBS. You mean to tell me you're not setting your tape recorder every day?

Q. Do you miss Melrose?

JACK WAGNER: I do miss Melrose.

Q. Are you going to be doing any singing?

JACK WAGNER: I am going to start recording again. I'm going to be doing an album coming up next year. It's for the 50-and-over crowd.

Q. What were your putts on 16?

JACK WAGNER: I had about 40 feet and I left it about six feet short. No excuse, but that hole is really bad around the cup. There's spike marks, you just don't know where it's going to go, and I thought I hit a decent putt and just squirreled off to the left. That's just the way it goes.

End of FastScripts....

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