Rocco Mediate returns to defend after ‘freaky’ Shaw Charity win

File photo - Rocco Mediate tees off on the third hole Sunday, July 14, 2013, in the final round of the U.S. Senior Open golf tournament in Omaha, Neb. AP Photo/Nati Harnik

CALGARY — Freaky.

That’s how Rocco Mediate described his remarkable performance at the inaugural Shaw Charity Classic where the golfer shot 22-under over three rounds to win the tournament.

Mediate, talkative, affable and outspoken, said the three days at Calgary’s Canyon Meadows Golf and Country Club were unlike anything he’s experienced at a tournament over his 30-year professional career. He tied a Champions Tour record for the lowest score in a three-day event with his play last year.

“It was freaky,” Mediate said. “It was one of those weeks where nothing bad happened. A lot of good shots and a lot of good putting. It doesn’t happen very often. A lot of people asked what happened and I didn’t have an answer for that.”

Mediate, who had six wins on the PGA Tour and most famously lost a playoff against Tiger Woods at the 2008 U.S. Open, says tournaments like last year’s Shaw Charity Classic have to be appreciated because they appear so rarely.

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“You have days like that, but not three rounds,” says Mediate. “It was my lowest score ever over three days. I shot 20-under to win the Buick Open in 2000 but that was over four days.”

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And Mediate didn’t see it coming. By his own admission he was playing badly coming into the tournament, and “felt awful.”

“I wasn’t hitting it any good and I wasn’t doing anything that well,” he says. “I got up on the first tee and thought about something and hit it down the fairway and went from there. There’s no planning out what you want to do. There’s no figuring out what you want to score—at least not for me.”

And though he doesn’t think the scores at this year’s tournament will be as low—the par 5 14th has been turned into a monstrous 492-yard par four for this year’s tournament, Mediate says the players that drive the ball well this year still have a chance of posting low scores.

Mediate’s battle with Woods at Torrey Pines during the 2008 U.S. Open is probably what he’s best known for. Mediate lost in a playoff to Woods, who was playing on a stress fracture of his left tibia. Though Mediate says he doesn’t speak with Woods, he’s watched with interest as Tiger has struggled with injuries, including recent back surgery that has forced him to shut down his year.

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“It was inevitable [Woods] was going to reinjure it coming back doing the things he was doing before he injured it,” said Mediate, who has struggled with back issues for much of his career. “Common sense says that. All I’ve done my whole career is try to figure ways around it. When you come back out of an injury that is that devastating, even to him, you have to change and go back and say this is what caused it and not do that anymore. And I think a couple of days ago he said, ‘I’m not doing that anymore.’”

Mediate, who is spending this week at the home of Clay Riddell, founder of Paramount Resources, a part owner of the Calgary Flames and one of the creators of the Shaw Charity tournament, plans on heading up to Banff after the tournament to check out the legendary Fairmont Banff Springs, the course created by Canadian Stanley Thompson. He’s a big fan of Thompson courses and is anxious to see if Banff measures up to the pictures he’s seen.

In the meantime he’s trying to tap into the memories of his record-tying performance from last year, one of two Champions Tour wins on his record. It isn’t hard to recall the details of such an impressive win, he admits.

“If I had 90 wins then you might forget some of those,” says Mediate. “But when you [win like last year] don’t you remember them vividly.”


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