AKRON — The everyday guy on the PGA Tour is still talking about his second-place finish at the U.S. Open.
And unlike many on the tour who have fallen to Tiger Woods, Rocco Mediate is reveling that he lost to the No. 1 player in the world in an
18-hole playoff and is looking forward to doing it again.
Mediate, who shot a 2-under par 68 at Firestone Country Club on Thursday, took time after his round at the Bridgestone Invitational to reflect on his weekend at Torrey Pines.
While he lost on the 91st hole when his drive went wayward after holding a lead for most of the playoff, Mediate said he’d welcome a return trip.
“Why wouldn’t I want that?” Mediate said. “I don’t understand why people would be, like, scared, worried. ‘I’m going to lose. I can’t believe he made that putt, why didn’t I make that putt?’ I would have loved to birdie 18 (in the playoff and win outright), but so would he. I wanted that to happen. I enjoyed it.
“What scares me the most is the way I react to shots and laughing and talking. Because why would you do that out there? It doesn’t make sense to me whatsoever.”
Mediate took away a chance to measure up against Woods with the entire world watching. It appeared Mediate was going to win the major outright on Sunday, but Woods curled one in on 18 to force the extra day and Mediate could have won it Monday, but left a 20-foot birdie putt two feet short on the 18th.
“You just don’t get to put yourself up against the best player — as I always say — on grass, in the United States Open,” Mediate said. “It’s insane what happened and that’s what I dreamed. That I wanted him anywhere on Sunday to see how I would do. I just wanted to go out and give him a game and maybe beat him. Every once in a while he does lose, but not in that situation.
“I remember everything that happened that day. I pretty much watched him hit every shot, and I wanted to see all of it. I got to see it and just about pulled it off. It was the best experience of my entire life.”
Big and little
As usual, the 526-yard, par-5 second hole played the easiest for the pros with 34 birdies against just five bogeys in the 80-player field. The 482-yard, par-4 eighth hole tied the 471-yard, par-4 13th hole for honors as the hardest. Combined, the holes yielded just 15 birdies but posted 41 scores of bogey or worse.
Not a fan
Technology doesn’t always make the game of golf easier. At least that’s the feeling Daniel Chopra has regarding Firestone. The Swede thinks the birth of the big clubs has made the course harder.
“You can see how the golf course was built for a ball that went about 30 yards shorter,” said Chopra, whose 3-under is one back of the lead. “We were hitting balls in all awkward spots. Very difficult to put the ball in the fairway for the longer hitters. I don’t think that when they designed the golf course they were thinking balls would be flying into (the areas we hit into now).”
Six-time champion Tiger Woods (knee), 1990 World Series of Golf king Jose Maria Olazabal (unspecified), Brett Wetterich (shoulder) and Luke Donald (wrist) withdrew from the tournament and will have their winnings donated to a charity of their choice.
Mike Weir cited a scheduling conflict and opted out, saying that last week’s Canadian Open and the upcoming FedEx Cup were too much. He will not receive any money.
Shot of the day
Ernie Els hit his approach shot on the 667-yard, par-5 16th in the primary rough to within three feet. Sitting 140 yards out Els’ shot stuck the green just to the right of the cup. He holed out for birdie.
Shot of the day II
Lee Westwood’s approach shot on the second hole flew the green some 53 yards and into a spectator’s hat on the fly. Taking a free drop, the Englishman rolled one through the green, eventually taking a bogey.
Chopra is one 18 players in the field to play Bridgestone for the first time.
• Stewart Cink has five career PGA Tour victories and all five have come the week after a major.
• The winner will take home $1.35 million. Last place takes home as much as $31,000 or as little as $30,500 pending ties.
• Firestone will look a tad different next year as a new bunker will be added to the 399-yard, par-4 first hole. The powers that be are also expecting to shift or expand sand traps on holes four, eight, nine, 10, 11, 13, 14 and 15.l.
• Kenny Perry’s streak of 16 consecutive rounds of par or better ended on Thursday when he shot 3-over.