Insider: Mediate believes he's just one of many great stories in 2013

Chris Condon/PGA TOUR
Rocco Mediate said he is "very protective" of the Champions Tour because of those who came before him.

Rocco Mediate has been around tournament golf long enough to know a good story when he encounters it.

“Esteban (Toledo) had a fantastic year,” Mediate said. “I think Esteban’s story is one of the best we have on any tour – where he came from and how he’s fought out here, literally.”

Mediate authored a pretty good story himself on the Champions Tour in 2013. It was good enough to earn him Rookie of the Year honors on the senior circuit. The race was down to Mediate and Toledo, both two-time winners as rookies. The nod went to Rocco after the contest went down to the final event of the Champions Tour season at the Charles Schwab Cup Championship.

“It was cool to be noticed,” Mediate said during an interview on Sirius XM PGA TOUR Radio. “I’m ecstatic … couldn’t be happier about it.”

There’s no disputing Toledo’s story – once a boxer, he came from relative obscurity to find a home on the Champions Tour. Toledo had only conditional status when the season started but capitalized to win when he had the chance and earned full status. He backed it up with a second victory.

“He’s been a pro for a long time and he’s done really well this year,” Mediate said. “I told him how proud I was of how he’s played this year. He’s tough. He’s just good. He’s coming into his own now. I think he’s going to be a force for quite some time.”

The tipping point in the Rookie of the Year race came at the TPC Harding Park in the season finale. Toledo began the event just ahead of Mediate on both the Money List and the Schwab Cup points list. In San Francisco, Mediate tied for fifth and leapfrogged Toledo in both categories. Mediate finished 10th on the Money List, two spots ahead of Toledo.

Duffy Waldorf was among the season-long leaders on the Charles Schwab Cup points list – he was No. 5. On the Money List, Waldorf finished ninth, just ahead of Mediate.

“Duffy played great all year,” Mediate said. “He would have beaten us both if he’d won a tournament. All he had to do was win one and it was all over for us.

Mediate won his debut at the Allianz Championship, and just kept going. Victory No. 2 came in Calgary at the new Shaw Charity Classic in September.

“You do your work in the off season and I had time to work on my game,” Mediate said during the radio interview. “You do the work and hopefully it shows up when you get into contention. The results of that work showed up quick. I made everything that week. I wanted to prove myself to the guys again because you have to. Hopefully, I did that this year.”

In Calgary, Mediate shot rounds of 63-64-64 for a 22-under total. He won by seven strokes and matched the all-time Champions Tour scoring record for 54 holes, 191.

“I’d never won twice in a year so it was pretty cool to do that,” he said.

Mediate and Toledo were a big part of the 2013 Champions Tour season not only because of their play but because of what they brought to it in other areas. Mediate, like Toledo, has his own good story to tell because he’s never had a story that he wouldn’t share. Mediate is terrific with the fans, the media and at delivering the Champions Tour message.

“It is an amazing place to play golf because you have generations of players who can still really play,” he said. “It’s kind of scary. (Tom) Watson and (Hale) Irwin, these guys can still win. These are the best players that have ever played the game. Of course, I don’t include myself in that group; I just try to hang out with them.

“I feel like I’m a part of it and I love it. I want to stay here and continue to play the Champions Tour. We have some good guys coming out. It’s not going to be easy and that’s why I’m working hard on my game.

“I’m very protective of this Tour. When the pioneers like Arnold (Palmer) and the others started it, who knew it would come to this. It’s a place where people can watch the greatest players ever play golf. If we’re in the entertainment business, who entertains more than the Champions Tour? Nobody.”