It’s 11:11 p.m. here in the humble confines of the Salem News building. I planned to run a U.S. Open column by Associated Press writer Tim Dahlberg in this space, but after seeing what he wrote, I nixed it because I whole heartedly disagree with what he has to say.
Dahlberg is an excellent writer, but he, like so many are going to do, are writing off Rocco Mediate and his chances to win the U.S. Open in a head-to-head playoff today with Tiger Woods.
Dahlberg writes, “It won’t become official until sometime early Monday afternoon when they inscribe his name on the U.S. Open trophy for the third time, pat Rocco Mediate on the back and wish both him and his belt buckle well. Mediate’s name will go somewhere, too, alongside those like Bob May who have their one chance and are never heard of again.”
Mediate isn’t Bob May. Mediate is 45-years-old, has played on the PGA Tour since 1984, has five PGA Tour victories to his credit and 60 top 10s in his career. He’s won some 13 million dollars in that time. Tiger earns that just about every year, but 13 million dollars isn’t Bob May money.
A journeyman he may be, but Rocco isn’t a Joe Schmo with no chance against Tiger.
Everyone will remember Rocco Mediate.
Mediate is arguably the most personable player on tour since Peter Jacobson. His steady play over the course of 72 holes at Torrey Pines isn’t coming to an end today.
Dahlberg seems convinced it is.
“... it will likely be a nice parting gift to give the 45-year-old journeyman something to tell his grandchildren about when they ask about the time he almost won the U.S. Open.”
Woods started terribly for the second straight day. He has more double bogeys in the tournament than his customary eagles. He once again scrambled from all over the course to force today’s playoff.
And let’s not forget. Woods’ knee is hurting. It’s hurting unlike it ever has which certainly makes his performance that much more special.
I predicted Tiger to win the Open before it started. I also stuck Rocco on a list of players to watch come Sunday because of his veteran presence, as well as the fact that you don’t have to be a huge hitter to win the U.S. Open.
Rocco got to 1-under the old fashioned way — fairways and greens.
Tiger got there the way Tiger always does — scrambling from behind trees, sinking 60-foot putts, and then finally dialing it in when it was absolutely necessary.
Dahlberg continued, “Mediate looked as if he was going to need the portable heart defibrillator on the wall behind him as he watched the ball hit the right lip and drop in.
Like everyone who was watching, he knew what was coming. This was Tiger Woods, after all.
You know, the guy who will be kissing the Open trophy on Monday.”
Nope. Not this time. After watching four rounds, I’m changing my prediction.
Rocco will hand Tiger his first loss after leading or holding a share of the lead following three rounds in a major.
Mediate is calm, cool, collective and gets another day of fun in the spotlight. He’s got nothing to lose.
Tim, you’re a great writer, and I can tell you that because a sign of a good writer is one that can get you angry. But Rocco will get it done today.
E-mail B.J. Lisko at firstname.lastname@example.org