Rocco Mediate is in Seventh Heaven and laughing all the way to his US Open playoff with Tiger Woods
And the winner is……a bit of a letdown. All that drama and tension on the last few holes and the final result is a delayed 18 hole playoff between Tiger Woods and World No 158 Rocco Mediate.
For Australian viewers the playoff will start at the ungodly hour of 2am (EST) Tuesday. It’s a matchup that could be memorable, or could quickly become a lopsided affair.
Once the Australians were out of contention – Geoff Ogilvy being the last – it was a bit of a tough decision about who to barrack for.
There was the great Tiger Woods going for his 14th major. His back nine on the third round was amazing – five behind with six holes to play and he sinks a bomb putt to eagle the 18th and start the final day in the lead.
He starts the final day badly, double bogeying the first and grimacing in pain from his dodgy knee after every full shot.
Asked later if it was the knee that contributed to some uncharacteristic fluffed shots, he had a one word answer: “No,” he said, and refused to be drawn further, though he did admit at another point to “taking some stuff” to help with the pain.
Whatever he took, it seemed to help with the pain as his round progressed, but maybe it was also that killer instinct adrenaline coming out in the final stages of a major he wants so dearly to win.
Then there’s the happy-go-lucky Rocco Mediate. Not much more than a name to me (and I suspect many others) before the tournament, but with an attitude that made him a crowd favourite, laughing and joking and engaging with the galleries as others around him grumbled and groaned and kicked bags in frustration.
Interviewed, with his one stroke lead still intact, as Tiger Woods and Brit Lee Westwood came up the 18th fairway, a birdie from either to force a playoff, everyone else biting their fingernails, Mediate, wearing more US Open pins than just about any of the Torrey Pines tourists, said: “It’s the most fun I could ever dream it would be.”
At 45, Mediate would be the oldest ever first time major winner. He had to qualify to gain entry, was well out of the world top 100 golfers. It was all a fairytale waiting to happen – and it still is.
Rocco had been hugely disappointed he did not get in the final pairing with Woods for the final round. Now he will get his wish.
“It was a blast. I’ve never had more fun and more insanity. It’s just amazing,” he said of his final day, admitting the infectious smiling and chatter comes from nervous energy.
Tomorrow, he pledged, the show will continue.
“Absolutely. Oh, my God, I get to play for the National Open against the best player on earth, that maybe has ever played. How much more could you ask for?”
Woods, he said, would have no choice but to respsond.
Woods knows what he is in for, but was just a touch more measured.
“I’m sure I will talk a little bit,” he said. “Roc is………..he’s one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. He’s been a friend of mine ever since I’ve been out here on Tour. We’ll talk. But we’ll also understand we’re trying to win a U.S. Open. And we’ll have our moments where we’ll go our separate ways and be focused for each and every shot.”
Maybe it will be worth a 2am start after all.