Monday, June 16, 2008

Rocco won fans, hearts at U.S. Open

Rocco Mediate didn’t win the U.S. Open trophy, but he won the hearts.

Until his disappointing end on the 91st hole of a championship that was so close to being his, Mediate found out that there’s still plenty of game left in his 45-year-old body and he learned how it feels to play golf on a cloud.

Tiger Woods is a marvel. We figured that out years ago.

Mediate is just a Pittsburgh guy, who has a balky back and likes to talk.

Everywhere he went over the weekend and on Monday, cheers of “Rocco, Rocco, Rocco” could be heard around Torrey Pines. He had the time of his life.

He could have melted when he was three strokes behind Tiger with eight holes remaining in the playoff, but he didn’t. Instead, Rocco made three straight birdies, flipped the advantage to himself and went to the 18th hole on Monday with a one-stroke lead.

It was the same position he was in on Sunday when Woods had to make a birdie to keep playing. Both times Mediate made a par on a hole that was generous about surrendering birdies.

When he absolutely had to make a birdie, he couldn’t and it cost him. As Rocco kept saying, he forced Woods to do something – and, naturally, Tiger did.

Mediate’s career may be defined by this Open because it reminded us again of how good a guy he is and how capable a player he is when his back isn’t forcing him to do television work or play professional poker.

The trophy went to Tiger.

But Rocco Mediate left with a smile on his face, too.


B.M.C. said...

Over the years, I've never really had any draw or pull to Rocco. However, over the weekend and through Monday it was hard not to pull for him.

Seeing Tiger win, given what we know now, if remarkable and he deserves all the credit in the world. However, had Rocco pulled out that victory the story would have been a great one in and of itself!