Rocco I Think I Had Him a Little Scared Once

By Associated PressJune 16, 2008, 4:00 pm
2008 U.S. OpenSAN DIEGO -- Powerless to put Tiger Woods away and exhausted from this U.S. Open that would not end, Rocco Mediate plopped down above bunker on the 18th green, crisscrossed his legs and scribbled down his score.
The 91st hole would have to wait.
Woods, who had just birdied No. 18 to force a playoff for the second straight day, chuckled as the 45-year-old Mediate caught his breath.
Mediates quest to become the oldest golfer to win a major came to a crashing end on the first hole of sudden death Monday when Woods secured his 14th major.
An appreciative crowd that cheered Woods victory burst into one more chant of Rocco! Rocco! Rocco! for the underdog with the peace sign belt buckle and gift of gab who plays the crowd, if not always the course, like Lee Trevino.
It was unbelievable, Mediate said. Yeah, this is huge for me.
Not only because he vaulted from 158th in the world ranking into the top 50 or because he wont have to go through a qualifier next year like he had to just to get into this years Open.
But because he proved something to himself just a year removed from commentating on the GOLF CHANNEL and contemplating retirement from competitive golf because of a bad back.
It just showed me that I still can compete and I want to keep competing, Mediate said. I never quit. I never quit, and Ive been beaten down a few times.
So, hes not going to lament this loss very long.
I got what I wanted, Mediate said. I got a chance to beat the best man in the world, and I came up just a touch short. But I think I had him a little scared once, which was great. He just said Great fight! to me and that makes it a little better, I think.
Woods blew an early three-stroke lead before he carbon-copied his Sunday birdie on 18 that forced Mondays 18-hole playoff. Mediate, who missed his long shot birdie putt on 18'I was nervous as a cat'sank his three-footer for par to force sudden death.
On the first hole, the par-4 seventh, the oceanside course that bested every other golfer here save for Woods finally got to Mediate.
I almost, I just about got him, Mediate said. But I had trouble with that seventh hole tee shot all week and I hooked it again in that bunker and I caught it in a horrible place.
But no regrets, he insisted.
My heart is all over the golf course. I have nothing left, Mediate said.
Mediate put himself in a position to win when he birdied the 13th through 15th holes, capping his run with a 25-foot putt that put him a stroke ahead of Woods.
Oh, my God, that was ridiculous, Mediate said. Yeah, Ive never had more fun. Ive never its just amazing. Hes hard to beat. I threw everything I had, the kitchen sink, everything, right at him. I was three down through 10. It could have been over pretty quick and he hit that ball in the bunker, not that I felt he was going to, like, bogey but its not the easiest shot and I hit a good shot, and all of a sudden bang, bang, bang, I pick up three, four shots and in a few holes and Im one up.
But this is Tiger Woods.
In a playoff.
At a major.
And this was Rocco Mediate.
In a playoff.
At a major.
Going up against Woods with so much on the line was the one thing Mediate said would be a career-capper.
But I want to do it again now, he acknowledged.
Hes so remarkable. We had a great time and its just I like the way I handled it 1-up with three to play, Mediate said. I hit pretty good shots.
And he had a 20-foot putt for birdie on 18 that would have won it, too.
But he couldnt pull it off.
And so Woods, after stepping back when a seagulls shadow interrupted his focus, sank his birdie putt.
Its like a prize fight, Mediate said. No one even expected me to be (here) that long or survive and he had to birdie the last again to tie me. Again. And he did it. Its amazing.
Woods insisted he isnt one of those who only now can appreciate Mediates grit.
I already knew that about Rocco. Hes not only one of the nicest guys, but people dont realize how much of a competitor he is, Woods said.
They should now.
He reminds me a lot of Trevino how he plays: just talking and enjoying it and smiling and having a great time with it, Woods said. But when it comes down to it, when its time to hit the shot, he goes into his own little world. People dont realize that. After he does hit the shot he comes out and goes, Blah, blah, blah, having a good time. But right before each shot he gets into his own little zone.
And its pretty cool to see.
Aside from his $810,000 consolation, Mediate is left with the knowledge that he made the limping Woods work 19 extra holes to win his 14th major.
It was an honor being out there, Mediate said. And Im sure I scared him. I did good today.

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    Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

    New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

    The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

    "Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

    It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

    Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.

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    Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

    By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

    SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

    Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

    He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

    Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

    Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.

    The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

    ''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

    Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

    He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

    Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

    Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

    ''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''

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    13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

    Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

    Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.

    “An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”

    Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.

    Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

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    McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

    It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

    Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.

    Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    “I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

    Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

    “Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

    This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014.