Rocco Mediate Has Lead In First Champions Tour Start

By Les Bailey
Rocco Mediate
Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports

The last time Rocco Mediate had the spotlight in professional golf was in June of 2008. He became the most famous person to lose a US Open Championship in what was arguably the best Monday finish in golf history to Tiger Woods. He’s back!  He went away for four years, finally turned 50 in December and shot a course record 61 to take the lead in his first outing on the Champions Tour.

The 50  year old pro golfer, who lives in nearby Naples, Florida, and turned pro in 1985,  fired a second round 11 under par 61 on Saturday at the Allianz Championship in Boca Raton to take a three shot lead over Champions Tour veteran Tom Penice Jr, and is five strokes clear of Bernhard Langer.

Rocco took The Old Course at Broken Sound apart, putting a string of five birdies together on the front nine, and making the turn at 31. He made a hat trick of birdies on the back before finishing birdie, eagle, carding a six under par 30 on the back. He was bogey free on the day after make a couple on Friday, but signing for a 67 in the first round.

The hardest thing for the older pros to do after they start losing clubhead speed, and distance off the tee, is continue to play on the regular tour. Keeping their Tour Card intact until they make that all important 50th birthday can prove to be difficult with all the young talent on the PGA Tour. The senior circuit moves the tees up a little for the old guys, and they only play for three days instead of four, making it easier for the older guys.

I know that Tiger Woods was compromised with his knee problems, but Rocco Mediate gave him everything he had in the 2008 US Open, and had it not been for a miraculous putt on the 18th hole at the end of regulation play, would have won his only major championship. When he got behind early in the Monday playoff, he never gave up, came back to give Tiger another run for his money.

In the end, Tiger prevailed, but Rocco Mediate gained my respect for the gracious, and professional way he handled the loss. He was a true professional in all aspects, and made me a Rocco Mediate fan for life. Now that he is back in an environment where he can compete again, I wish him all the success he can attain.

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