An Interview with Chris DiMarco
September 16, 2004
JULIUS MASON: Chris DiMarco, ladies and gentlemen, on a Thursday morning at the 35th Ryder Cup Matches.
Chris, how about sharing some opening thoughts and we'll go to Q&A.
CHRIS DiMARCO: Well, obviously very happy to be here, and I thinks as a team, I think we're ready to go. Obviously it's been a long week. I think it's a lot more preparation than a lot of us usually use because it is such a long week, without playing today. Usually today starts our week. I know that we're all, we're ready.
JULIUS MASON: Questions, folks.
Q. I think you said every player gets 20 tickets and then the opportunity to buy 30 more. I'm guessing you have the whole throng of 50 here. With all that's going on with you, how do you handle the family and what are they doing and does everybody want a piece of you, in addition to the responsibilities of going through the match-related ceremonies and stuff like this?
CHRIS DiMARCO: Well, the good thing is that actually they make it known that we are pretty much unaccessible. So we don't really have to worry about it. I know my wife worked really hard probably the two weeks previous to this getting everybody hotel rooms, getting everybody ready so by the time she got here, she's pretty much out-of-pocket. It's been nice. It's been a great experience, that gala last night was phenomenal.
Q. I know you've always been a golf fan -- watching the Ryder Cup all these years what images come into mind and how do they play into what you're thinking this week?
CHRIS DiMARCO: For me you could sum it up with one word. It's just emotion. You see guys that are not normally emotional on the golf course. You see guys that are normally even that much more emotional on the golf course. You just see raw emotions come out. You just see the adrenaline. You can see the fist pumps, you can see stuff that you don't see in normal tournaments. Again, for me, the guys on my team, playing for your country, in your country, I don't know if there's anything greater.
Q. You've experienced the Presidents Cup. I wonder if you could just compare how the buildup for this week has been compared to Fancourt last year?
CHRIS DiMARCO: Well, the biggest difference was that at Fancourt we didn't really have the media as much as we do here. The papers really weren't like we have here, TV, I mean every channel here, it's something about the Ryder Cup. Over there, there's two channel, one was cricket and was one was golf. (Laughter.)
It was different. I felt kind of like we were way over here playing golf, kind of not in touch with the States in that tournament. Where here, you're here, and I like here better.
Q. I just have a question about the way you practice when you're hitting shots away from pins and rolling balls on different parts of the green, what all exactly are you calculating mentally when you're doing that?
CHRIS DiMARCO: You know, you're just trying to, basically, you're figuring how the pin is going to be over there in those spots, so you're trying to hit putts just to see the speed, see where you think maybe the grain might be going or the pull of the grain might be going, just so if you're in that situation, it might not help you ten times a round, but you know what, you might have in your notes that from this putt here it is a little slower so you have to hit a little harder and it could make the difference. You're just trying to do your homework on the greens.
Q. After a few practice rounds, can you talk about the condition of the greens, and also, which ones you think are going to play the toughest this weekend?
CHRIS DiMARCO: The greens, for me, I love them. More undulating, more quick is right up my alley, imagination on the greens is what I like. They are not going to put them really fast, I don't think, because they can get out of control because they are so undulating.
As far as which ones are going to play tough, I think any time you're hitting more than a 6-iron into a green, 5, 4-, 3-, 2-iron into some of these greens, it's going to be tough because it's going to be tough to get them on the top layers. But relatively, there's a lot of wedges, 8-irons, 9-irons, if you put the ball in play you can score around here.
Q. I was just wondering, everybody is talking about how you guys are such a good putting team, now that you're here and you've seen the greens, do you think that might be sort of a difference-maker? And part two to that, in terms of your preparation, do you get dots out there for where the flags would be or are you totally guessing because I guess in theory there would be five different pin placements?
CHRIS DiMARCO: We are pretty much guessing. A lot of the guys played in the '96 Open here so they know where the pins were. We have Steve Jones who won the tournament, so he's been telling us some stuff on that, too. Other than that, you just kind of, we are a good putting team on paper. But that's paper till Friday rolls around. I know there's a lot of guys with a lot of confidence on the greens and that's good to have.
Q. You sound impressed with the gala last night, can you share some highlights?
CHRIS DiMARCO: It just the overall presentation. I mean, the way that we were introduced. They had us behind a curtain, they lifted a curtain and all 12 of us were there and they just announced us. We walked down with our wives. It's been a really good deal for me because my wife has been involved, they have really included the wives a lot in this. To be quite honest with you, the wives are a big reason why a lot of us are here. If we didn't have that support system at home, letting us be selfish, then a lot of us wouldn't be here. I know the caddies have been a big part of this week and Hal has taken them in and done a lot for them and they are a pretty big part, too, they are pretty much the second half of our brain on the course. This has been the most team atmosphere I've ever been on. Presidents Cup was a lot of fun and we had a lot of team camaraderie there, too, but this has been really, really good. Everybody is in tune, everybody is doing everything. It's been a lot of fun.
Q. When you look at the galleries and people have talked about how the galleries are so large for the practice rounds and that's unusual for you guys even for PGA tournaments, tomorrow they are going to be so concentrated because there are so few matches, is there a difference in your mind between 5,000 and 10,000 people on a hole?
CHRIS DiMARCO: The only difference is a little louder when you make birdies, that's about it.
To be real honest with you, I can tell you, ten years ago when I first came out here, I was definitely a little starstruck with the people. Now you don't even see them, you really don't even see them. It's funny, if I do make birdie, whether it's the last round at the Masters or the PGA, I can hear my wife's voice over everybody else's for some reason, or my dad's, you almost tune it out. It just looks like a picture out there and you've got to do that and you just kind of play the golf course and hopefully get a low score.
Q. Both Paul Casey and Thomas Levet, two, Ryder Cup rookies, said in a way they were happy they are playing their first Ryder Cups away from home because they thought a first Ryder Cup at home in front of home crowd would be overwhelming, perhaps too much pressure. Your thoughts on this being your first and playing in the States.
CHRIS DiMARCO: I kind of disagree with that. Because if you are maybe struggling a little bit, you have the fans that are here to pump you up. I mean, "Come on, get in it, go." It's going to be great. Hopefully I never have that situation, hopefully I'm doing fine and I'm playing well. But to have all 40,000 or 38,000 of the 40,000 cheering for you is going to be a good thing. They are going to be pumping you up. You're going to have your teammates. I kind of like the fact that we are playing here in the States. Again, playing on home turf, I don't know any other sport where it's not an advantage. I kind of like the fact that we're here.
Q. Just wondering, did you play other sports? You seem to bring almost a football mentality into your approach on golf.
CHRIS DiMARCO: I did. I played football for ten years growing up, Pop Warner. I had two older brothers that roughed me up pretty good, in a nice way, roughed me up pretty well. I'm Italian, I'm emotional, I'm going to be -- I'm going to have some fire out there, for sure.
Q. It's sort of unusual to have someone with the background that Jackie Burke brings to this, what sort of advice has he given you and what's it been like to have him around this week?
CHRIS DiMARCO: He's a great guy. I'm really honored that I got to know him this week. I know Hal says he's an icon and he is. He played in four Ryder Cups, he captained the Ryder Cup. I was told he was 81 years old and, my goodness, he looks 60 to me. The guy is a phenomenal man. Just to have his presence is a bonus. I mean, I think it's an extra added bonus to our team.
Q. I was wondering about the sixth hole, is that a hole that you might try to drive and could you expand on what players might take that chance there?
CHRIS DiMARCO: If they move the tee up, I don't think you'll see too many guys not hit driver there. I don't know if I can -- I can get pretty pros. I played with Tiger yesterday and he was hitting driver, if he's hitting driver from the up tee, I'm not getting there. It's just one of those short holes. It's a good, a really good match-play hole.
It seems easy enough, but if you hit it in the wrong spot with the pin in the wrong spot, it can play tough.
JULIUS MASON: Questions? Questions twice? Thanks for coming down, Chris.
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