Tour Insider: 2014 has already been special for Mediate, but there's more to come
January 22, 2014
By Vartan Kupelian, PGATOUR.COM
- Rocco Mediate wants to be more consistent in 2014; he believes he's playing the best golf of his life. (Getty)
The fun didn’t stop once Mediate arrived at The Old Course at Broken Sound for the Allianz Championship. He blitzed the field with a second-round 61 and went on to become the 16th golfer to win in his first Champions Tour event.
And the fun still hasn’t stopped for Mediate, who went on to win Rookie of the Year honors and this year is starting with a strong vibe. He had an excellent start to the season with a fifth-place finish at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. It featured an opening round 63.
The day after the conclusion of the event, Mediate got married to Jessica Somers at the Four Seasons Hualalai before he and his bride jetted back to the mainland where Mediate is playing this week at the PGA TOUR’s Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines. The memories flooded back to Mediate. It is at Torrey Pines that he lost the 2008 U.S. Open to Tiger Woods in one of the truly riveting playoffs in the history of the national championship.
Mediate catches a breather next week before returning to Broken Sound for the first full-field event of the Champons Tour season. He won’t get lost this time, now that he knows his way around the course and the Champions Tour.
A year ago at Broken Sound, Mediate shot 17-under 199 for 54 holes on the par-72 layout, fueled by his tournament record and career-best 61. It was the first of his two victories. The second came in Calgary in August when Mediate shot 63-64-64 for a 22-under total 191 and a 7-shot victory.
“It was crazy,” he said of his record round. “I really didn’t realize how many under-par I was. When I looked up at board on 18, I went, ‘Whoa!’ It was just one of those days. Started making everything. Hit all the fairways, all the greens and made the putts. It was shocking.
“Those rounds you just don’t know when they’ll come. That’s the lowest I’ve ever shot anywhere. To have it happen the first week, it was crazy.”
When Mediate finally found Broken Sound, he liked what he saw. Immediately.
“It fit my eye,” he said. “I liked the way everything looks.”But that doesn’t necessary mean success. Take the 17th hole, for instance.
“My favorite hole on the course and I hit it left into the trees two out of the three days, almost out of play. Just goes to show you.”
Mediate and Jessica exchanged marriage vows on the beach in Hawaii.
“I’m happy it’s happening to me,” he said. “I never thought it would happen.”
Mediate will tell you there was nothing negative about his rookie season. He entered with his eyes wide open and remained relatively healthy, which is about all a guy who a history of back issues can ask for or expect. What he’d like to achieve this year is a bit more consistency.
“To get in the hunt a few more times,” he said. “That would be cool.”
He was in the hunt in Hawaii before a twinge in his side derailed the bid.
Mediate prepared himself to compete at the highest levels again this year. He is convinced he’s a better player today than he has ever been.
“I think every single part of my game is better,” he said. “I hit it farther, my technique is better, I putt better, pitch the ball better. You should get better as you get older and I’m still learning stuff. I’m way better than ever around the greens. You always work on it. You never get it down. As soon as you think you have, it’s over.”
Mediate has repeated many times that there’s nothing about the Champions Tour that has really surprised him, that he knew exactly what he was getting into and knew exactly the scope and level of the competition. Bernhard Langer shot 22 under in three rounds to win the Mitsubishi Electric Championship.
But there must be something – at least one thing – that has been a revelation about the Champions Tour.
“There was,” Mediate acknowledged. “I knew the golf courses we play out here weren’t as long as the PGA TOUR for the most part and they weren’t 6,200 yards got out here. I found some of the courses we play are well over 7,000 yards.
“So what I was surprised by is the length of our golf courses, and scores that were shot. I don’t know if I expected the courses to be as long. We’re playing long golf courses. We played the U.S. (Senior) Open at 7,300 last year, like a regular U.S. Open.”