PRO GOLF: Masters Interview with Chris DiMarco

Despite a furious rally by Chris DiMarco on the back nine to tie up Tiger Woods and force a sudden death play-off in the Masters, he was unable to win it all when Tiger birdied on the 18th. Here's a transcript of an interview with Chris DiMarco after the loss.

Q. What did you learn about yourself today?

CHRIS DiMARCO: You know, I learned that, you know -- and it really was a combination of last year, the PGA, the Ryder Cup, all those things I took into today. And then the way I went out and played this morning, that nine holes, was a real -- I felt like it was a time for me to do something. It wasn't a time for me to go out and shoot a 72 and do whatever. It was a time for me to go out and have a chance to win a tournament, be aggressive and do something.

You know, I did. I went out and shot 68 around here on Sunday, which is a very good round, and 12-under is usually good enough to win. I just was playing against Tiger Woods.

Q. After that morning round, how tough was it to come back, and how good did you feel about your chances?

CHRIS DiMARCO: I went home and changed shirts, because that one was no good (laughter).

I went back to the black shoes instead of the white and tan, changed my belt, changed my socks, and I was like, okay, new shirt. That's over with, let's go back.

You know, I knew that I was playing good. I knew it was there. This morning the greens -- the fairways were a little bit long, a little bit wet, and it was tough to control your shot. I got a bad break on the 10th hole. I hit a really good 3-wood on the corner and it stopped on the side of the hill. Normally that ball goes all the way into the flat and I have a perfect shot into the green. That's the one that started it up.

I made a couple bogeys, I think I only made four or five bogeys for the week. Four or five bogeys around here is good.

Q. What did Tiger say to you after he made his putt, the first time around, on the 18th? He said something, you could see it on television.

CHRIS DiMARCO: The first time around? I don't remember. I could not even tell you. The second time around, he said great match-play. Maybe that's what he said, great match-play. That's what it was.

Q. A week ago here, you told me when I asked what would it take for you to win a Masters, you said "play better on Sunday," and now you've done that.


Q. What do you do?

CHRIS DiMARCO: Well, you play just a little bit better (laughter). You know, it was -- you can all, I mean, this is such a game of, you know, a missed putt here, a missed thing here. If you go back to two really big points in the whole day, it was his chip-in on 16, and my chip on 18 had every right to go in the hole; I don't know how it didn't go in.

So if those two are turned, it's the other way around, and, you know, he made a great chip, great imagination. You don't expect any -- I was over there expecting him to make it. You know, you expect the unexpected, and unfortunately, it's not unexpected when he's doing it.

Q. What was going through your mind when that ball -- the ball on 6?

CHRIS DiMARCO: Oh, yeah, that was another good break there, wasn't it; my ball was up there about five minutes and rolled off.

You know, again, expect the unexpected. I was totally fine with it. I knew that the pin was back far enough to where I could be aggressive with the putt and get it up there somewhere around the hole and make par. So it was not a big deal. If I would have made bogey, it would have been, but I was okay.

Q. As much as anything, are you going to remember the missed birdie opportunities on the front nine today?

CHRIS DiMARCO: Yeah, I had some good chances. A little tentative maybe on 3. It looked like it was a little bit faster; if I hit it just maybe four inches harder, I make it. On 4, I made it; I don't know how it didn't go in. I hit it exactly where I wanted to, the exact speed I wanted to, and it caught a really big lip.

Other than that, on 8, I misread. I totally thought the ball was going to move a little -- when you're putting downhill out here, I mean, you are so defensive it's unbelievable and you can't get the ball started on line. You have to trust what you see, and a lot of those putts I saw going a little one way and then back the other way, and it just never went the one way.

Q. What were the circumstances of your withdrawal two years ago?

CHRIS DiMARCO: Oh, well, that's old news. Who cares about that?

Q. It just looks unusual, you withdraw two years ago and almost win two years later.

CHRIS DiMARCO: I made a mistake. I was like 13-over with one hole to go. I played 35 holes one day and I felt like -- I didn't realize what I was doing and it was a bad mistake on my part and it was -- it was not -- I wrote a note here telling them how much I appreciate this and how much I honor this place and how much I'm honored to be here at this place. But that's old news.

Q. You made up for it.

CHRIS DiMARCO: I tried to, yes. It would have been nice to have a green jacket; it would have been better.

Q. Was it fun giving him all he could handle and making him blink a couple times down the stretch?

CHRIS DiMARCO: Absolutely. Any time you can make him hiccup a little bit, you know you're doing something right. He was struggling with that shot right every now and then, and you know, again, I never expected the shot on 18. I was totally expecting to have to make that chip. I was not expecting that with the iron, and he just came out of it. It happens.

Q. You've come close in the majors so many times and we've talked during the course of a week, how different emotionally and philosophically and the way you play is this one to the other two chances? And secondly, how close was Tiger's putt in the playoff to Phil's last year on 18?

CHRIS DiMARCO: It was a little bit closer to the hole. I think it was maybe about six or seven feet inside Phil's.

I don't think I was ready to win. This year I was ready to win, to tell you the truth. I really felt like I could win it. And coming out the way I did, I will be ready to win next year. I certainly will feel like I can for sure.

Q. Can you tell us about the two approaches on 18, the first one, second one?

CHRIS DiMARCO: I was swinging really good and I wanted to be aggressive. I didn't want to hit something soft in there. The adrenaline was going. I didn't want to flush something and get it up on the top tier, so I was trying to hit the club that would get the flight right in the middle of the hill, right on the middle of the green, jump up the slope and roll back a little bit and give me maybe 15 or 20 feet, and they both just came up two or three yards short, max.

I felt like if I hit the other club, it could be two or three yards long, and two or three yards long of the hill was no good.

Q. You switched clubs the second time?

CHRIS DiMARCO: I was 13 yards closer the second time. I had a 5; I went to one club less. I only had 180 yards to the hole, so I just had hit 6-iron on 166 yards. So I felt like up the hill, 6-iron was good.

The fairway on 18 was a little bit tight and a little bit muddy, so it was hard to really go down and get one, and I came up just a smidge thin on both of them, maybe a tick just enough.

Q. You're optimistic and riding the high off this excitement; do you let this hurt or do you just --

CHRIS DiMARCO: I would let it hurt if I gave it away, but I didn't. I really didn't. You know, I played him as hard as I could down the stretch, birdieing a bunch of holes coming in on the back nine and putting it on him, really. So if I would have went out, if I would have done this, if, this was my back nine yesterday or this morning, and then I went out and shot 41 this afternoon, I would be very disappointed.

But since I put that behind me and went out and put a good number on the back nine, I feel very good. You know, obviously it was a good show for everybody I think.

Q. What did it feel like out there with you two guys going at it? You separated yourselves from the pack. Have you ever experienced anything like that in a Ryder Cup or a regular tournament?

CHRIS DiMARCO: That's what it felt like. It felt like a Ryder Cup, totally. It felt like -- although, you know, in the Ryder Cup I played in, we were getting spanked, so it really didn't matter (laughter).

It felt like the Presidents Cup when I played there. I was playing with Stuart Appleby. That was about as nervous as I was there as I was here, especially when Mr. Nicklaus comes up to me and says, "We need your point." (Laughter).

It was very -- I told my caddie walking on 18, I said, "If you're not having fun doing this, boy, something's wrong with you." That was about as much fun as I've had in a day. I was throwing up on myself all day, but it was about as much fun as I've ever had. My stomach was turning. But it's nice to know that your stomach is going crazy and you're going crazy and you're still performing. It shows you can do it any arena, especially here. If you can do it here in this atmosphere, you can do it anywhere.

Q. You had a lot of crowds, more so than Tiger; did you notice it?

CHRIS DiMARCO: I did. It was great, it really was. It kept me motivated. Again, I just tried to stay in my game. I knew that the back nine, if I could stay within two or three going into the back nine, I had a chance, and you know, he's hitting the ball so far. My goodness, I mean, that shot he hit, he outdrove me on 80 yards on No. 1, he had 165 yards to the hole and hit 7-iron in there.

I knew if I could stay patient and do some things -- he made two birdies right out of the gate, which really helped. They were two tough putts, too. They weren't easy.

Q. When you were getting ready to hit at 15, Immelman had a hole-in-one on 16. Did you find that out right away?

CHRIS DiMARCO: Well, obviously I could tell the cheer. You could hear it. You could tell the difference in -- you could hear the ohhhh, and the waaaah. You know the difference. I sat back and watched it; it was a great shot. I just let everybody calm down. I didn't want to get out of myself. Took my time, took another practice stroke, a practice swing and hit a good shot.

Q. Did you expect Tiger to make the last putt, too?

CHRIS DiMARCO: Yeah. I mean, yeah, you've got to expect him to make the putt. But I was totally, totally expecting to have to make the putt to tie, too. So, you know, in a way, I certainly wasn't -- you know, I wanted to be prepared for my putt, too. You know what, he gave me a great line, he really did. It was a perfect line.

Q. What are the shots that you're most proud of today, putts and shots?

CHRIS DiMARCO: You know, probably the two putts I made on 17 and 18, the two 6-footers. Those were pretty good.

And I hit a great shot on 9 with a 4-iron out of the rough. He hit pitching wedge in there, I hit 4-iron (laughter), and that was -- you know, I hit it in there, you know, three feet. That was a really good shot. That was a good shot to make the turn going into the back nine, get it to double digits, kind of separate us a little bit. He made birdie, too. Didn't have to do that.

Q. What about the lay-up on 15?

CHRIS DiMARCO: I hit a good drive there up the right side, which is where you get more bounce. My ball hit the hill and ended up on the downslope of the other hill. I had 218 to the front of the green and felt like if I hit a 2-iron, just busted it, even if I got it on the green it was going to go over the green. That was a pretty accessible pin from 85 yards, and I laid it up to 85 yards and it was perfect for my L-wedge.

Q. How do you handle being 80 yards behind a guy?

CHRIS DiMARCO: You hit your iron shots inside of him, that's what you do.

Q. Explain the play at 15. I think a guy on television said when you laid up, you were playing for 2nd. Would you give your thought on that, please?

CHRIS DiMARCO: Who was that?

Q. On your play.

CHRIS DiMARCO: Who was that?

Q. Lanny.

CHRIS DiMARCO: Well, yeah. That's Lanny (laughter).

I did not have the shot. I had 236 yards to the hole, so it was either try to cut a big old 3-wood off a downhill lie and who knows where it would go, and just kill a 2-iron and if I just came up with it a little bit it wasn't going to go in the water. Really if my ball was two yards back I would have gone for the green, but I had a downhill lie with a 2-iron in. I didn't feel like that was a smart play. My wedge game was great all week and I just made birdie. So obviously he was wrong.

Q. You talked last night about staying in the moment today. Were you able to do that the entire time, even going to the playoff after you make the putt without thinking about it?

CHRIS DiMARCO: The pressure is off once you're in a playoff as far as -- it's just you versus another guy, and that's it. Even though that's what we kind of did on the back nine anyway.

The way we finished, the way I finished, I felt like -- I felt very good going into the playoff. You know, he went bogey, bogey on 17 and 18. Probably I had to feel better going into it than he did. But it just didn't turn out my way.

Q. You were able to not get out of that moment and think about what it would mean, one more birdie?

CHRIS DiMARCO: Oh, I was trying to make birdie, there's no doubt. I was trying. I felt like I needed to make birdie to beat him. I said, "We're going to have make a putt for birdie to win. It's not going to be given to us with a par." That was already done.

Q. How much of a jolt was it when things turned around so quickly this morning? Within 20 minutes, you went from --

CHRIS DiMARCO: Well, again, everybody was saying that, you know, if he keeps playing the way he's playing, there's 27 holes left. I mean, you know, Tiger I think was 3- or 4-up on me going into the back nine or 3-up on me, so that changed. It changes. It's golf. A bogey and a birdie is two shots. It happens quick.

You know, like I said, it was unfortunate to start for me on the downslope and he got off to a great start. I totally expected somebody to try to get up there. I certainly wasn't trying to play for pars. I was trying to -- I was trying to make birdies, too. I wanted to extend it.

Q. Beyond the 80-yard difference and some of the golf stuff, how is it different coming down the stretch at the Masters against Tiger than the last year or with him, his presence? How does that change the atmosphere?

CHRIS DiMARCO: It really doesn't affect me anymore. I've played so much golf with him, Ryder Cups, Presidents Cups, played with him at the Masters here, played with him at the U.S. Open, played with him everywhere.

You know what he's going to do and what he's capable of; you have to play your game. If you start concentrating on what he's doing, you're not going to do any good.

Q. How easy is it to recover? Obviously he comes out and makes the two birdies right away, the big shot at 16; how easy to put that stuff away?

CHRIS DiMARCO: There's 16 holes left. You have to stay in the moment and you can't get ahead of yourself. I know this golf course and you can't be too aggressive on this golf course. You have to pick and choose your spots.

You know, I did. I hit a lot of really quality shots out there today.

Q. You've been witness to history, two of the greatest Masters putts. You're the witness both times; you're right there. What's the difference in the two moments, Phil winning versus Tiger winning?

CHRIS DiMARCO: I think Phil's was probably -- this was Tiger's fourth, right? Phil, you could see, even though he only got about three inches off the ground, you could see the monkey off his back (laughter).

Phil's was just big for him because I think he got that whole Best Player Never to Win a Major off his back.

Q. Which was louder?

CHRIS DiMARCO: Phil's. You know what, they stopped this year -- last year, they let the people get within ten feet of us walking down the crosswalks. They didn't let them do it this year. Last year, my ears were ringing. It was loud, though, when Tiger made that putt; it was loud.

Q. Do you think this will awaken Tiger as far as the majors?

CHRIS DiMARCO: I hope not. He's fine. He's awake. He's won three or four times this year already (laughter).

BILLY MORRIS: Folks, it's been a long day for Chris. Let's do two or three more questions and we'll wrap it up.

Q. What happened with your driver on the 8th hole?

CHRIS DiMARCO: Yeah, the epoxy head came loose and my head was twisted. Thankfully I had another one with me. Normally I don't have one.

I actually put the one I was using for the first 3 1/2 rounds in play on Wednesday, so I was musical drivers up until Wednesday. I had about four or five in my locker.

Q. How quickly did you get a new one?

CHRIS DiMARCO: They gave it to me -- on the 8th tee, I felt it, and got a rules official and they brought it to me on the ninth tee. So I didn't miss a drive with it.

Q. Because of the early morning finish and charge, there was this buzz or expectation that it was going to be a rout. Did you have any sense of that, and what was your reaction?

CHRIS DiMARCO: No. I mean, no, it was -- you know, I knew what I was capable of because of the way I played the first 45 holes, so I knew that if I could go out and play good golf that I could at least compete and we did. It was fun.

Q. Did it surprise you that no one else made a run, either Phil or Vijay or somebody?

CHRIS DiMARCO: No. It's a hard golf course. When you're trying to make birdies on that golf course, you're going to make bogeys. That's the difference.

The greens, like I said, if you get above the hole out here, you're putting defensive; and when you're putting defensive, the subtleties are so great out here, it's so easy to miss putts. You see a lot of guys missing a lot of 8-footers, 6-, 8-footers that hook with a foot to go and they break right out of the hole.

Q. You said you expected Tiger to make the shot, you expected him to make the putt; did you expect him to bogey twice?

CHRIS DiMARCO: No. But I tell you what, once he hit his third shot short on 17, I was thinking if I make this putt, I could have a one-shot lead going to 18. I hit a good, aggressive putt. I wanted to be aggressive. I didn't want to just lag it up there. If it was just a little bit softer, I make one on 17, both 18 and 17 looked good to me.

BILLY MORRIS: Chris, thank you very much, and good luck to you the rest of the year and in next year's Masters.

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

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