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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    Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

    This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

    The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

    Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

    The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.


    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


    A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

    And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

    The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.


    Masters victory


    Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

    Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

    Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative


    Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ


    Green jacket tour

    Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

    Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

    Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket


    Man of the people


    Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

    Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

    Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief


    Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together


    Ace at 17th at Sawgrass


    Growing family

    Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

    Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018


    Departure from TaylorMade


    Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade


    Squashed beef with Paddy

    Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

    Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'


    Victory at Valderrama


    Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

    Getty Images

    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm
    Getty Images

    Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

    By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

    Well, this is a one new one.

    According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

    “No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

    Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

    “If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

    The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

    “I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

    The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

    Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

    Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.

    PGA Tour suspends Hensby for anti-doping violation

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 8:02 pm

    Mark Hensby has been suspended for one year by the PGA Tour for violating the Tour’s anti-doping policy by failing to provide a sample after notification.

    The Tour made the announcement Monday, reporting that Hensby will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

    The statement reads:

    The PGA Tour announced today that Mark Hensby has violated the Tour Anti-Doping Policy for failing to provide a drug testing sample after notification and has been suspended for a period of one year. He will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

    Hensby, 46, won the John Deere Classic in 2004. He played the Web.com Tour this past year, playing just 14 events. He finished 142nd on the money list. He once ranked among the top 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking but ranks No. 1,623 today.

    The Sunshine Tour recently suspended player Etienne Bond for one year for failing a drug test. Players previously suspended by the PGA Tour for violating the anti-doping policy include Scott Stallings and Doug Barron.

    The PGA Tour implemented revisions to its anti-doping program with the start of the 2017-18 season. The revisions include blood testing and the supplementation of the Tour’s prohibited list to include all of the substances and methods on the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited list. As part of this season’s revisions, the Tour announced it would also begin reporting suspensions due to recreational drug use.

    The Tour said it would not issue further comment on Hensby's suspension.