Category: Rocco Mediate

August 20, 2008

Ridgewood was buzzing the day before the Barclays

Posted at 4:46 PM by Michael Bamberger

PARAMUS, N.J. -- Glamour alert, glamour alert! This FedEx Cup thing might actually be working! Having Tiger out for a few months is helping too!

Few were more dubious about the FedEx Cup than I was, and it's still way early, but pro-am day at Ridgewood was spectacular. Yes, pro-am day! First off, the course is an old-fashioned, rich-people country club with an elegant clubhouse. It has a real veranda where you can order real food (if you sneak in, as I did) and watch Players You've Heard Of doing their thing on the massive practice green. The weather was positively shipped in from Maui--blue skies and low humidity and 75ish. With school and camp out, the course was loaded with kids, many of whom requested autographs. Phil signed forever, and Padraig Harrington was right behind him, and somewhere else Vijay Singh was practicing long bunker shots. There's so much more golfing celebrity to spread around when Tiger is not around. Look, pa--isn't that Steve Stricker?! Yes it is, son. You can tell your children someday you saw him.

One forty-four in the field, and chances are you've heard of all of them, if you're an agate reader. Certainly the top 30. There's the guy you saw at the Masters, Brandt Snedeker. There's the guy you saw at the British Open, the one who wears pink. (Ian Poulter, son.) Where's the other guy from the U.S. Open? Rocco, Rocco--there was an APB out for Mr. Rocco Mediate, Esq. (And I don't care what you say about his name, Johnny Miller.)

I've never been to a post-PGA Championship event that had the kind of--someone give me a better word here--buzz that the Barclays had on Wednesday. Now comes the hard part: a tournament with guys puking and choking and making charges and knocking down flagsticks and rubbing their hands when they look at the pile of money. This could be the real deal, and marketing had only the slightest something to do with it. Pro-am day was the kind of day when a kid could come to the course and, with his head on the pillow that night, be swamped with a single thought: "How do I join the circus?"

August 06, 2008

Mediate hopes to rock the Ryder Cup

Posted at 5:33 PM by David Dusek

Mediate_450x600 After 23 years on the PGA Tour, professional golfers rarely get to experience something for the first time.

Rocco Mediate, who turned pro back in 1985, has never played on a Ryder Cup team. But with the season's final major upon us, the 45-year-old is on the verge of making Paul Azinger's roster.

Mediate is currently 12th on the Ryder Cup points list. The top eight players automatically earn spots, and another four will be chosen in the coming weeks as captain's picks.

"It would be great," Mediate said Wednesday. "One more good shot here to get in the top eight is what we are all looking to do."

No one is going to forget his duel with Tiger Woods at the U.S. Open, but Mediate won't make the Ryder Cup team solely because of his performance at Torrey Pines.

Azinger said Wednesday, "As far as picks, personality could play a part, but I'm looking for guys that are playing really well and that have a lot of confidence." After mentioning Woody Austin, Brendt Snedeker and D.J. Trahan's accomplishments, Azinger added, "Rocco is another guy who could be very confident."

It's that confidence, along with his resurgent game, that would make him a great partner in a four-ball or foursome match. He's not long off the tee, but Rocco is a solid iron player, has an underrated short game and a knack for holing meaningful putts.

And after going toe-to-toe with Tiger for 91 holes, do you think there is anyone on the European team that is going to rattle his spikes?

The European media took notice of what Rocco could bring to the Ryder Cup party after Torrey Pines, but they were skeptical that he'd find his way onto the U.S. team. Oliver Owen wrote in The Guardian:

"Rocco Mediate will never play on a Ryder Cup team. He will never finish high enough up the money list to earn his place and has no chance of being a captain's pick. Paul Azinger will not have given Rocco Mediate a second thought as he plots how to get the cup back from the Europeans. But Rocco Mediate would be the perfect Ryder Cup player... if he was European."

So how ironic would it be if, after 23 years on Tour, Rocco Mediate were the guy to give the European Ryder Cup team a taste of its own medicine?

(Photo: Fred Vuich/SI)

July 18, 2008

Rocco still rolling at Birkdale, two off halfway lead

Posted at 9:57 AM by Eamon Lynch

Mediate_299 SOUTHPORT, England — After grabbing the spotlight during the first round of the British Open, the old guys were supposed to slouch back down the leaderboard during Friday's second round, taking up their customary role of mere footnotes in the championship while the young guns take center stage.

Rocco Mediate didn't keep to that script at Torrey Pines, and he's refusing to do so 6,000 miles away at Royal Birkdale, where he lies just three two shots off the lead held by 53-year-old Greg Norman.

After sharing the overnight lead at one-under-par, Mediate added a three-over 73 Friday to stand at two-over for the tournament at the halfway stage. His round was punctuated by an approach shot to 6 inches at the last for a tap-in birdie.

"I hit the ball way better today and shot four shots higher. I didn't make enough putts and that's the whole key,"Mediate said.

The 45-year-old admits that he's still on a high from his epic playoff loss to Tiger Woods at last month's U.S. Open. "Getting into the playoff with Tiger gives you a whole bunch of confidence," he said. "I love this game and that I can do it for a living in front of people, it's just the coolest thing in the world. I don't know how much better of a job you can have. I want to keep it for a while."

However, with his famously balky back, Mediate admits he's keeping a wary eye on the gloomy weather forecast for the weekend. "I understand we're going to have some nasty stuff for the next two days," he said. "It is just going to be about survival."

(Photo: John Biever/SI)

July 14, 2008

First day in England serves up tame tabs

Posted at 11:22 AM by John Garrity

SOUTHPORT, England – I’m on headline watch. Every year, on the Monday before the Open Championship, I wander over to the press tent lounge – which is just a couple of couches and a coffee table – and go through the British papers. It’s my way of coping with “sensation lag” – my term for the adjustment a Yank has to make when switching from low-octane American broadsheets to high-octane British tabloids.

Today, I have to say, the pickings are slim. ROCCO HAS ‘EM ROLLING blares The Sun, a tab famous for it’s page 3 photos of topless lassies. The story explains that Rocco Mediate, while playing a Sunday practice round at Royal Birkdale, lay down in the tenth fairway so his physical therapist, Cindy Hilfman, could perform some chiropractic moves on his aching sacroiliac. “You should see her when she really gets to work on me!” said Rocco, serving up the obligatory double-entendre.

But that’s about as lurid as it gets. The Daily Record’s headline, GREAT SHAKES, has nothing to do with frozen desserts (or killer earthquakes) and everything to do with Graeme McDowell’s weekend victory in the Scottish Open. (He was nervous, you see.) Another DR offering, PRESSURE BEING CHAMP WON’T MAKE ME A CHUMP, details the challenges faced by last year’s Open winner, Padraig Harrington.

The Daily Express also weighs in on Harrington, but in nursery rhyme fashion: I PLAN TO BE SNUG AS A BUG IN A JUG. I had to read the story to be reminded that Harrington, upon being presented with the Claret Jug last year at Carnoustie, had promised his then-3-year-old son Paddy that he could keep ladybugs in the trophy. Only, it turns out, the British and Irish call them “ladybirds.”

“The ladybirds went in,” Harrington assures the Express. In fact, the replica Claret Jug that Padraig gets to keep has engraved ladybugs fluttering around his name.

The Sun, by the way, leads its version of the Harrington story with a very lame LADY AND THE CHAMP.

It’s bad enough, Tiger not being here. Tame tabs, too?

June 17, 2008

Cheering for Rocco at the Pittsburgh airport

Posted at 12:29 PM by Gary Van Sickle

Here's a report I got from a reliable witness Monday afternoon at Pittsburgh International Airport (Ok, it was me -- I didn't change my originally scheduled Monday flight and wasn't in San Diego for the playoff):

"I just got off my plane at about 3:45 and noticed a strange gathering of people in the terminal near the shopping area. About 40 people were standing around, it was pretty curious. When I got close enough, I found out why. The PGA Tour Shop, a store that sells golf gear, had two big-screen TVs showing the U.S. Open playoff between Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate, who's from Greensburg, which makes him a Pittsburgher. I've never seen a crowd gather to watch golf before. Naturally, I stopped to watch, too.

"Rocco made a short putt for par on the 17th green and went to the 18th hole one stroke ahead of Tiger. As I stood there, a woman walked up and asked how the playoff stood. When she heard the score, she said, incredulously, 'Rocco's winning? Wow!'

"As they played the 18th, more curious passengers joined the gathering. I edged in closer to the TV and sat down on the floor to get a better view. There was an excited buzz when Woods ran his eagle putt well past the cup, and complete quiet when Mediate rolled his birdie putt for the victory. The silence erupted in groans when Mediate's try, like Tiger's, missed and went beyond the gimmie zone. 'Geezus, Rock,' said a man in a suit and tie sitting on his suitcase next to me.

"There were more groans went Woods made his birdie putt. As Mediate faced his short putt to extend the playoff, a guy on my other side said, 'Boy, this would be a terrible way to lose.' Rocco made the putt, there were cheers mixed with exclamations of relief and a couple of 'Rocco!' shouts.

"The playoff was going to sudden death and the crowd dispersed. People had other flights to catch or luggage to collect. I stood up and left for baggage claim. Had I known it would be a two-hour wait for luggage--a passing thunderstorm with lightning prevented any planes from being unloaded--I would've stayed and watched the finish."

June 16, 2008

Live play-by-play blogging

Posted at 1:36 PM by Anne Szeker

No TV in the office? Wondering how to follow today's U.S. Open playoff between Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate? Follow the play-by-play action here.

Playoffs!!! Playoffs??? Playoffs???

Posted at 9:35 AM by Damon Hack

Like that last dinner guest who refuses to leave, the 18-hole United States Open playoff lingers in the corner, telling stories that only a few want to hear, nose high in the air, rifling through that last bag of potato chips. Some folks love the guy. He's been around for years, after all, talking about the good old days and tradition and all that jazz. But he's a bit of a blowhard, going on and on with seemingly with no end in sight.

The Masters has sudden death, the British Open has four extra holes, the PGA Championship has three. Only the U.S. Open tries to re-create the magic of Sunday-evening championship golf during Monday rush-hour traffic.

Who likes the 18-hole playoff? The USGA, for one, insisting that a championship of such desperate importance be settled over 18 holes. NBC and ESPN must like it because they get one more day of Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate making love to the camera. (Not sure if they liked it so much in 2001 at Southern Hills Country Club when the combatants were Retief Goosen and Mark Brooks.)

Who doesn't like the 18-hole playoff? The USGA, for one, at least in the United States Women's Open. Two years ago at Newport Country Club, Annika Sorenstam and Pat Hurst played an 18-hole playoff in front of about 100 people, if that many. It was embarrassing. It looked like Tuesday at the Reno-Tahoe Open. Actually, that's an insult to the Reno-Tahoe Open. So the USGA scuttled the 18-hole playoff in the women's championship the following year, shortening it to three holes. So much for desperate importance.

The fans? What fans? They're all at work, or sitting in traffic, or pouring the Cherrios for the tykes, or taking Buster and Choo-Choo out for a walk. In this economy, how many fans are going to risk playing hooky to go back to Torrey Pines, even if it's one more chance to watch the guy in the red shirt and the dude with the peace belt?

The players? Depends. Goosen was happy as a clam to get a full night's sleep and a chance to forget about missing a two-footer for par on the 72nd hole that would have won the championship outright. (He won it the next day.) Hurst? She was so jazzed after making a short putt to join Sorenstam in a playoff that she wanted to play right then and there. She didn't want a Monday playoff. She wanted to settle it at dusk. Momentum was with her. On Monday, Sorenstam crushed her.

The writers? Most of us hate it, but the reasons vary. Some have very tight deadlines, and the extra day of play (especially for the magazine scribes) drives you and the editors back home nuts. Some have Monday-morning flights that must be re-booked. Bye-bye non-stop! You are now instead booked on flight #666 Monday night from San Diego to New York, with stops in Phoenix, Seattle, Denver, Chicago, Atlanta and Pittsburgh. Should get you back home sometime Friday.

And then there are the writers who had Monday tee times at Torrey Pines, courtesy of a USGA lottery. There goes the chance to shoot 130 from the tips. The course will belong to Tiger and Rocco instead of a press room full of hacks. Not that I was at Southern Hills in 2001 or Newport in 2006 with a golden ticket, every groove of my clubs cleaned, a golf bag filled with white pearls, a head swimming with a million swing thoughts, ready to play my own 18 holes if not for the U.S. Open's 18 holes.

Nah, that wasn't me.

Open's short par 4 drives long hitters crazy

Posted at 12:40 AM by Mike Walker

The USGA finally fired the gun that had been hanging on the wall all week by moving up the tee box on Torrey Pines' par-4 14th hole, shortening it from 435 yards to 277 for the final round. That made it reachable for virtually every player in the field.

The move created a Happy Gilmore atmosphere for fans, who cheered lustily  when a player eschewed the lay-up iron for a 3-wood or driver (or in Sergio Garcia's case, a 5-wood). It also created a pivotal hole in this U.S. Open that actually favored the shorter hitters.

In all, 56 of the 80 players elected to go for it, usually with a 3-wood, but shorter-hitting guys like Jim Furyk and David Toms hit driver, while bombers like Anthony Kim went for the green with a hybrid. The hole was actually too short for Tiger Woods, who said he couldn't hit his 3-wood.

"You couldn't have picked a worse number for me," Woods said. "Because 5-wood is my number to the front, but it's into the wind so I can't get there. 3-wood's too much. ... If we were to play it from the back of that upper tee I could have hit 3-wood and gone for it, but I couldn't  have had a worse situation numbers-wise."

So Woods laid up, wedged it on the green and made par; his rival and Monday playoff opponent Rocco Mediate, whose average drive was almost 40 yards less than Tiger's for the tournament, landed his 3-wood in the left-front bunker and got up-and-down for birdie.

"It was like having a carrot in front of the horse, but very few guys were able to hit this green" said Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Dave Phillips, who teaches in nearby Oceanside. "The long guys didn't benefit, but it brought the rest of the field back in."

Basically, if you could play your 3-wood the hole was perfect, Phillips said, but if you couldn't -- like Woods -- then you had to lay up.

"I thought it was a great thing to do, and it ended up being a pivotal hole" Phillips said.

He added that if the USGA decides to keep the tee box up for Monday's playoff, it wouldn't be unfair to Woods, even though the length favors Mediate.

"Tiger has a major advantage on the par 5s," Phillips said. "It's nice to have a hole where the short hitters can capitalize."

Live blogging the U.S. Open playoff

Posted at 12:32 AM by

No. 3, par 3, 195 yards
At the green
Woods hits a great bunker shot from that lie, but it came out hot. Has work left, probably eight feet.

On the tee
Woods puts a 7-iron short and left, and his ball buries in the bunker. Fried egg. Trouble. HOLY COW ROCCO! He burned the edge and nearly made a hole in one. Short putt left for birdie.

** Woods E, Mediate +1 **

No. 2, par 4, 389 yards
At the green
Mediate catches a good lie, but has an awkward stance. Feet way below the ball. Beautiful chip to about five fee. A knee-knocker. Woods hits a bad chip. Way short. Tiger putts first and drains it for par; Mediate is also safely in for par.

Second Shots
Woods is a little short and right, not good  but not too bad. Mediate is way short and right, not good at all. 

Tee Shots
Woods is way left with his drive, in the rough. Rocco is in first cut of rough, right side, with a much better angle for his approach shot. BROADCAST NOTE: As the players walked to the their balls, ESPN cut to a pre-recorded interview with Mediate. But instead of the interview, all viewers could hear were birds chirping. A very pleasant soundtrack, but not all that compelling.

This from David Dusek in San Diego: "In case you were wondering, if this playoff goes 18 holes and is still tied, Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate will simply keep playing without a break until a winner."

** Woods E, Mediate +1 **

No. 1, par 4, 448 yards
At the green

Rocco's bunker shot is close, in good position to save par, but he missed the putt. Bogey. Woods misses the birdie putt, makes the short one for a routine par.

Second shots
From 176 yards, Rocco is short and right, in a bunker, but with a good lie. Woods puts his shot just left of the hole in great position -- 15 or 20 feet for birdie. Advantage, Woods.

Tee shots
Rocco's drive is in the fairway, great position. Woods, trying to reverse his lousy record at the first during this Open, starts it right but catches a break. His ball lands in short rough, just right of the fairway and just left of a bunker, and kicks left into the fairway. Both players are sitting pretty for their second shots.

The players are on the first tee and ready to play.

11:55 am
Here's Cameron Morfit's take on Rocco's red-shirt move: "Rocco Mediate's decision to wear a red shirt, matching Tiger's typical crunch-time color, is hardly coincidental. It's a classic poker move by a guy who played in the 2005 World Series of Poker. Woods appeared to get a kick out of Mediate's color choice when the two shook hands, laughing before starting his warm-up."

11:50 am
We have this report from Paul Mahoney in San Diego: "Rocco Mediate is wearing red. Doesn't he know that no one but Tiger wears red in the final round of a major, even if it is on a Monday? The last player who attempted to steal Tiger's power color was England's Luke Donald in the final round of the 2006 PGA Championship at Medinah. Three holes in and Donald was five shots back. Watch out Rocco."

11:45 am
No TV in the office? Wondering how to follow today's U.S. Open playoff between Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate? Tune in to the Press Tent blog for live play-by-play and analysis, starting at noon EST.

June 15, 2008

Peace out, Rocco says

Posted at 10:42 PM by Mike Walker

Rocco_300 Professional golfers are generally a conservative lot -- after all, they're the ultimate "country-club types" -- so it was surprising to see Rocco Mediate's belt buckle on Sunday: a peace sign.

Was it a protest against the war? A remnant of a secret hippie past? A good-luck charm for the serious poker player? After the even-par round he shot to get into Monday's 18-hole playoff with Tiger Woods, the normally talkative Rocco wasn't saying.

"I'm not talking about the peace sign," Rocco joked when he entered the media interview room. "Tomorrow I'm wearing Metallica or AC/DC. We can't have any peace tomorrow."

Photo: Al Tielemans/SI

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