There is a winning formula on the Champions Tour and it is no secret. Even the rookies know what it is.
Go fast, go low or get left behind.
Rocco Mediate, one of the rookies, applied the formula perfectly last week at the Shaw Charity Classic. He shot 63-64-64 for a 191 total, tying the lowest 54-hole score in Champions Tour history. A late bogey cost him the record outright but by then Mediate had a cushy lead on his way to a 7-shot victory.
Mediate is the third rookie in a row to win on the Champions Tour. John Riegger at the Boeing Classic and Bart Bryant at the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open won before him.
In all three victories, the number 64 played a significant role. Bryant opened with a 64 in his 16-under performance while Riegger posted a 64 in the second round to reach 15-under. Of course, Mediate had a pair of 64s in his 22-under performance in Calgary.
The outstanding play was not limited to the rookies. Hale Irwin, 68, the winningest player in Champions Tour history, bettered his age by four strokes with his final-round 64.
The field made 1,000 birdies at Canyon Meadows Golf & Country Club, where the course record was broken four times. Four players shot a record 64 in the opening round before Mediate checked in with his 63 later in the day. Mike Goodes matched Mediate’s 63 on Saturday, before Bill Glasson broke the record again when he closed with a 9-under 62 on Sunday. Glasson’s round included nine birdies and helped him finish tied for 10th.
“It’s exciting golf but it’s hard to believe,” said Fred Couples, who shot a closing 67 in Calgary that barely made a blip on the leaderboard radar. “I'm not leaving here too disappointed, but was I ever in the tournament? Not really when the guy's 15 under after two rounds. It’s great stuff.”
Mediate is one of four golfers with two victories this year on the Champions Tour, joining Kenny Perry, Bernhard Langer and David Frost. All four are in the field this week at the Montreal Championship at Richelieu Valley Golf Club just outside of Montreal in Sainte-Julie, Quebec. The Montreal Championship will be played over the newly renovated Rouville Course.
The 7-shot victory in Calgary was the largest ever for Mediate, who won six times on the PGA TOUR and his Champions Tour debut at the Allianz Championship in February.
“I had a big lead at Phoenix in '99 when I beat Tiger,” Mediate said. “I had a 6-shot lead going to Sunday and I ended up winning by I think 3 … I never had kind of a walk in the park thing if you can call it that. But I never let myself think it was over at any point of the day until I putted it on the last hole.
“I've never done it before and it was fun to do it.”
Golf seldom is a stroll for Mediate, who walks and plays like he talks – fast. Regardless of the difficulty of any shot he may be facing, Mediate is ready. It only proves good golf and birdies don’t require an interminable pre-shot routine.
“No, I don't mess around,” said Mediate, never hesitant to share a viewpoint. “We all hate (slow play), believe me. It’s not just me. We all hate when you get holdups. I don't know how to explain it. I trust what I do and how I do it. I just get it over with. I want to go and I aim and shoot. I need eight seconds, that's it.
“It's not rocket science, it's just A to B as efficiently as possible, and sometimes you go off the A to B thing and it becomes inefficient. I know what I'm doing and I trust what I'm doing.”
Trust is paramount in Mediate’s game and the wisdom on all things golf that he’s only too happy to share can be applied by all golfers.
“Here's what I know about golf: If you don't think you can hit the shot, you probably won't,” he said. “And if you do think you hit the shot, you still might not. Have a nice day. It's a hard game.”
Even if the best players sometimes make it sound and look really easy, as Mediate did in Calgary.
“Getting from point A to point B is not easy, but thinking about that part is,” he said. “I don't put a lot into that. I look up, see the shot and I go. And when I don't go, it goes crooked. So it's like you can't steer it around any golf course and play good. You're going to get yourself in trouble.
“Like the old adage, to gain control you have to give it up. I would rather hit it offline going at it than hit it offline because I'm like, ‘Oh, no.’ I don't care if I lose making my best swing, I don't care. I do care if I lose not making my best effort. I think everybody's like that, we're all the same, I think.”