Smiting Drives - Nice guys weekend as Rocco and Pod get it done
19 Oct 2010 - 08:56:04
Rocco Mediate was a one-legged Tiger Woods away from winning the 2008 US Open.
But like the heart-wrenching near misses of Tom Watson, Greg Norman and Kenny Perry in recent years, we were robbed of a peoples' major champion at Torrey Pines when the last-chance saloon called time at the bar.
Mediate was 45 and we were all thinking the same thing when Tiger forced a play-off. He's too old and too nice to get it done, and we'll probably hear little more from him when the commiserations are done with.
What followed proved us right (for a while). Mediate finished 133rd on the money list in 2009, mustering just a solitary top-10 finish along the way.
This season was proving no better. Heading into the Frys.com Open Mediate had missed 12 cuts from 21 starts and barely merited a mention in dispatches. He looked for all the world like a journeyman running down the clock.
But like an aging boxer in a Hollywood blockbuster he came out swinging in Arizona. Mediate made four eagles, one in each round, and sealed a show-stopping victory with a hole-out approach at the par-four 17th. "Rocco, Rocco, Rocco!" came the familiar chant from the galleries. For the first in a long time those cheers were merited.
It was his first Tour win since 2002 and earned Mediate a two-year exemption for his troubles. Fairytale stuff, and a more popular victory on the PGA Tour you'd be hard pressed to witness.
"Do you believe what just happened out there?" he said afterwards. "I have a job again."
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Meanwhile, Padraig Harrington was getting it done in Malaysia and putting himself back inside the world's top 20.
Harrington put together four rounds in the 60s at the Iskandar Johor Open to bring about his first win in two years - his last being the 2008 US PGA Championship.
Let's hope it's the catalyst for a big end to 2010 for the Irishman.