Healthy Mediate in Good Shape

By Associated PressJune 16, 2005, 4:00 pm
PINEHURST, N.C. -- Rocco Mediate insisted he never lost faith in his ability to play golf, even while chronic back trouble turned him into an also-ran on the PGA Tour.
Rocco Mediate
Rocco Mediate's best U.S. Open finish is fourth in 2001.
The pain is finally gone, and armed with a new swing and a fit, trim body, the 42-year-old went to the top of the leaderboard Thursday at the U.S. Open. His 3-under 67 in the first round at Pinehurst's No. 2 course tied journeyman Olin Browne for the early lead.
'I expected to play well, but I don't know if I expected to shoot that low of a score, but I knew it was in there,' Mediate said. 'The beauty of it is you've got to keep doing it -- there's 54 holes left for me. It's so hard out there, it's so good, you can't screw it up.'
He certainly didn't do that, recovering from a few stray shots early to tie his best round ever at the Open. Mediate made the turn 1 under and jump-started his day with an eagle at the par-5 10th, the only one there among the morning starters.
After a drive down the middle of the fairway, he ripped a 3-wood onto the green and rolled in his putt from about 50 feet to move to 3 under.
'I think I vaguely remember that,' Mediate quipped while recounting his round. 'I didn't think I could really reach. I walked up there and it was right in the middle of the green. I'm trying to lag and make a 4, and it went right in the center.'
Of course, considering all his physical problems, everything appears to be falling his way these days. Last March, Mediate's back locked up while he was home by himself, and after three hours of lying on a trophy case, he finally crawled upstairs and went to bed.
The discomfort stayed with him for more than a year before he was able to start working out again. Mediate gained about 10 pounds through the ordeal -- he constantly struggles with his weight and lost about 50 pounds five years ago following back surgery -- and he was so discouraged at times that he considered quitting.
'I thought about do I want to do it again because it's really hard,' Mediate said of overcoming the injury. 'This is the sixth time I've done this in 12 years. I thought, 'Well, what the hell else am I going to do?' So I gave it another shot.'
To get back on tour, he used his one-time exemption that goes to the top 50 all-time money winners, and he went to noted golf instructor Jimmy Ballard to retool his swing. He's standing a bit taller at address, with a little wider stance, and he tries to move his entire spine during his backswing instead of tilting it as he
used to.
The results have been mixed. Sure, he can play again, but he's earned only about $125,000 in 11 events on tour, good for 176th on the money list.
Maybe a regular putter will help. Mediate ditched his broom handle a couple of weeks ago for the first time since 1991, and so far the results are spectacular.
'I kind of threw it in the fire quick here,' he said. 'I wanted to get my hands on it again. It's working well, maybe one of the best putting rounds I ever had.'
It was good enough Thursday to impress playing partner David Toms, who finished with a 70.
'He hit a couple of wayward drives early but recovered, and then he started hitting the fairways,' Toms said. 'He eagled 10, so that was big. I told him he might get a skin there today, I thought it was a pretty good 3.'
Perhaps Mediate's positive outlook toward this week helped. As one of the few players who relishes the opportunity to play a course set up by the USGA, he praised No. 2 and the demands it places on the players.
And he had some advice for anyone who doesn't like it.
'They shouldn't come and play then,' Mediate said with a smile. 'I just like it because it's the ultimate examination of your game. It'll tell you immediately. There's no maybes. It gives you what's happening with what you're trying to do.'
Related links:
  • Leaderboard - 105th U.S. Open
  • Full Coverage - 105th U.S. Open

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    After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

    Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

    Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

    Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

    It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard

    On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

    There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

    He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

    His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

    Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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    Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

    With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

    He picked up one more No. 2, too.

    The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

    In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

    Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

    “It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

    Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

    Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

    He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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    Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

    Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

    Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

    His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

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    Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

    Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

    Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

    What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

    Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

    Best of the rest: A two-time winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

    Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

    Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

    Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

    Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry