Rocco Mediate, a rookie on the Champions Tour, became just the 16th player in Tour history to win his first start, at the Allianz Championship in February. Mediate followed up with three consecutive top-10 finishes and is seeking more good performances in an effort to gain a spot in the exclusive 30-man field at the Charles Schwab Cup Championship at the end of the season. Mediate recently participated in a conference call where he shared his thoughts about life on the Champions Tour, the Charles Schwab Cup and how often he gets asked about the 2008 U.S. Open where he was defeated by Tiger Woods in a marathon playoff at Torrey Pines.
Q: What’s life like on the Champions Tour?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Our tournaments are run as good or better than events I played in on TOUR. There’s really not that much difference. Our pro-ams are really cool. Sometimes I play one pro-am, some week’s there are two. It’s so important. The players want this Tour to stay healthy and it should be healthy because of all the legends that are out there. I’d want to go see Tom Watson every day. Who wouldn’t? It’s a joke how many good guys and good players there are out there to hang out with.
Q: Comment on the quality of Champions Tour players?
ROCCO MEDIATE: We should be really good at what we do because we’ve been doing it our whole lives. The scores show it. Our courses are not pushovers. They are long, 7,000 yards and up. A couple of the courses are a little shorter and more old-school which are fun to play. If you shoot around even-par for the day you’re pretty much finished for the week. If you’re not sharp on Friday you are going to get run over. It’s a sprint. We only have six events that are four rounds. The rest are three so you better have ‘it’ on Friday or you’ll get left behind.
Q: How much is the Charles Schwab Cup on your radar?
ROCCO MEDIATE: You have to be ready. You look at the majors and they have double points. I had four really good weeks in a row early on but with the majors, that’s where you have to make it happen. It’s not as easy as it looks. I’m playing good enough to be up there every time but I just haven’t quite got the job done and I haven’t made enough putts at the first two majors. It’s (the Schwab Cup) totally on your mind but it’s not all consuming. I just want to keep giving myself opportunities. You could have four or five good regular events and mediocre majors and you get passed by other players and I think that’s a good way to do it, but it’s tough. I’m totally ready to go, especially at Fox Chapel which is coming up in a couple of weeks and is one of my favorite places on Earth. Then the Senior U.S. Open in Omaha and I’m looking forward to that as much as anything. I’m not looking at it like ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve got to get points’. I never have. If I play good enough, that takes care of itself.
Q: How have you adjusted to no cuts on the Champions Tour?
ROCCO MEDIATE: It’s weird. It’s hard to explain because it’s still new to me. It doesn’t make it easier to play better. You’ve still got to shoot low scores. I guess it does free you up some but it shouldn’t. When I played my best golf on the PGA TOUR I never thought about the cut.
Q: How many times a day do you get asked about the 2008 U.S. Open?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Just to clarify – talking about the Open does not bother me. It’s an honor to talk about it. Obviously, I wish the outcome was a little bit different at the end. It’s one of those things where I just don’t get tired of talking about it because I get asked about it, I promise you, every day. You can’t imagine the people that talk to me about it and the stories they have. I listen to them because I’m never one of those guys who tell people to get away from me. Arnold (Palmer) would kill me if I did that. There were some amazing stories that came out of that week.