Notes Mediate Falters After Injuring Back


AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Rocco Mediate bent over as his ball hit the flag on No. 9 and bounced backward, rolling off the sloping green and taking his eagle chances with it.
An eagle would have gone a long way in his pursuit of the Masters title. But the pain Mediate was feeling Sunday afternoon came from his balky back.
After my swing on nine, it went, he said. I almost had to quit, but I couldnt do that.
Mediate hasnt played well the last two years because of ongoing back problems. He had to use a one-time exemption to keep his card last year, and a late surge allowed him to narrowly finish inside the top 125 on the PGA Tour money list. He was at the Masters only because of his sixth-place finish at last years U.S. Open.
Mediates back had been feeling good at Augusta National. He appeared to tweak it as he finished up the third round Sunday morning, but he got treatment during the break and was in good shape through the first eight holes, making three straight birdies to grab a share of the lead at 4-under.
I was tied for the lead at that point and feeling tremendous, Mediate said. I seriously thought I was going to win this golf tournament.
Then came that second shot on No. 9.
It was the sickest sound, he said. And I knew it was coming back.
Mediate pressed on despite the pain, but his game wasnt the same. He made a bogey on the par-4 11th after his second shot sailed far over the green. He dumped two shots into the water at the par-3 12th, and wound up with a 10.
He posted a 10-over 46 for the back nine, giving him 80 for the final round. He finished at 6-over 294, putting him near the bottom of the field.
Now maybe people will know who Tim Clark is.
Previously known as the South African who ISNT Ernie Els or Retief Goosen, Clark made a name for himself with his runner-up finish at the Masters on Sunday. His 69 in the final round put him at 5-under 283, two strokes behind winner Phil Mickelson.
I think it makes me a little bit more determined to play well, Clark said. Obviously people see my name up there and they either think Im Darren Clarke, or, you know, wonder what Im doing there.
Clark has three victories on the European Tour and is a two-time winner on the Nationwide Tour, but hes still looking for his first PGA Tour victory. He has three top-15 finishes this year, including a 10th at the Buick Invitational.
But he tends to play his best in the majors. He tied for third at the U.S. Open last year, and was third at the 2003 PGA Championship. His best previous finish at Augusta was a tie for 13th in 2003.
Ive had a few good major championships and really do feel like I play my best golf in the majors, Clark said. I dont know what it is. I guess I get a little bit more geared up for them or what have you. I pride myself on being up there on the leaderboard with those guys, and when Im there, Im going to try my best to beat them.
He beat the best of the best Sunday. Paired with Tiger Woods, Clark finished one shot ahead of Woods.
Hes still the worlds No. 1 player, Clark said. I just happened to have a great day today.
Brandt Jobe is taking home quite the crystal collection.
Jobe had his second par-4 eagle of the week Sunday, holing out from 138 yards on No. 7. He also eagled the 10th hole in the second round, making him only the third person with two par-4 eagles in one year.
Brett Ogle did it in 1993, and Jack Nicklaus had eagles on the same hole'No. 5 in the first and third rounds'in 1995.
How about that? More crystal, Jobe said, referring to the Masters tradition of awarding a pair of crystal goblets to anyone making an eagle. Its fun. I had a rough week, so these are highlights youll remember, which is nice.
Jobe needed his first eagle just to make the cut, and he finished 12 strokes behind winner Phil Mickelson. But he had a good round Sunday, starting with the eagle. The seventh green is elevated, so Jobe couldnt see his 9-iron shot find the cup. When he heard fans scream and raise their arms, though, he figured hed done it again.
It was only the ninth eagle on the seventh in Masters history. He was only the seventh player to eagle the 10th hole.
Ive never gotten any, so I dont know what to do with it. Put it in my study, he said. Its something youll have forever, so its nice.
Stewart Cink takes back everything he said about the newly supersized Augusta National.
Cink wasnt thrilled with the changes, which added 155 yards and made the course play at 7,445 yards, second-longest for a major championship. The 2004 PGA Championship was played at the 7,514-yard Whistling Straits.
But after getting up close and personal with the new Augusta National, Cink has decided its not so bad.
I was really critical of the changes here. But after seeing the course play like it did, especially the first two days when it was fast and dry, I might have been a little premature, Cink said.
Cink didnt shoot above a 73 during the Masters, and closed with a 70 Sunday to finish at 2-under 286. That was good for 10th place, his best finish ever at Augusta.
I dont think this place is too hard. It just requires a lot of precision, he said. Short hitters still have a chance, but you have to have the short game.
After giving fans a thrill with his great start, Ben Crenshaw thudded to a finish. The two-time champion, who shot a 1-under 71 in the first round, closed with 78-79 and finished dead last. ... Jose Maria Olazabal had the low round of the week, shooting a 6-under 66 Sunday. ... Phil Mickelson has now won six tournaments in the state of Georgia.
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