Fox Chapel event rouses Greensburg native Rocco Mediate

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It is not always easy for Rocco Mediate to watch the U.S. Open, even though he enjoyed watching and rooting for his pal Phil Mickelson last week at Merion.

Mediate knows what it's like to contend at the U.S. Open and finish second. He also knows what it's like to seemingly have the entire gallery and a whole nation rooting for you to win on the final day.

At times, it seems like yesterday to Mediate that he lost in a Monday playoff to Tiger Woods at the 2008 U.S. Open, that he had the best player in the world on the ropes not once, but twice in the final round and again in the playoff.

"Can you believe it's been five years?" Mediate said the other day.

Mediate doesn't play in the U.S. Open anymore, at least he hasn't since 2010. He has tried to qualify several times since his playoff defeat at Torrey Pines, but did not attempt this year because it didn't fit logistically into his Champions Tour schedule.

So he sat around and watched Justin Rose win his first major championship -- "He played two of the best and prettiest shots I've ever seen at 18," Mediate said -- and got the idea that maybe his days of playing in the U.S. Open aren't over.

"I got to tell you, I'm not done with the PGA Tour yet," Mediate said. "I'm playing the Champions Tour, but I don't think I'm done. People can laugh about it, but I don't feel that way.

"I miss it. It would have been great to be at Merion, whether I played great or lousy."

Looking ahead

• What: Constellation Senior Players Classic, the third of the Champions Tour majors, Fox Chapel Golf Club.

• When: June 27-30.

• The skinny: Kouki Idoki (Senior PGA) and David Frost (Tradition) won the season's first two majors.

Mediate, a Greensburg native, gets a chance to win his first major on the Champions Tour when he returns to his hometown area to play in the 30th Constellation Senior Players Championship next week at one of his favorite courses, Fox Chapel Golf Club.

This isn't Mediate's first return home. He has played the past two years in the Tour's Mylan Classic as a favor to tournament chairman Rod Piatt. But returning home to play in a major tournament, even on the Champions Tour, is a big deal.

"I'm looking forward to next week; I'm looking forward to being home," Mediate said. "In my opinion, Fox Chapel and Allegheny are the best two courses in Western Pennsylvania. Laurel Valley is up there, too. Fox Chapel is special to me. I played the Pennsylvania Open there in 1980. I can't believe I get to play in an event like this at that golf course."

That's what many of the Champions Tour players said a year ago when they got their first look at Fox Chapel. Mediate said that's all he heard them talk about or ask him about heading into next week's 72-hole tournament, which begins June 27.

"I knew when they picked Fox Chapel guys would lose their mind," Mediate said. '[Ben] Crenshaw said it's one of the best places he's ever seen, and Crenshaw and [Bill] Coore have built some of the best golf courses on the planet. I already knew that, but it was cool to hear that."

Mediate got off to a fast start in his new career, becoming the 17th player to win his Champions Tour debut. After that, he finished fifth twice and sixth once in his next three events.

Since then, though, his best finish is a tie for 12th in six events. In each of the first two majors on the Champions Tour, he finished 20th at the Senior PGA Championship and 35th at the Regions Tradition.

"I love Shoal Creek; I just didn't putt good," Mediate said, referring to the site of the Regions Tradition. "I hit it great that week. I hit it great all year. I'm getting back in good shape. I'm ready to go."

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Gerry Dulac: or Twitter @gerrydulac. First Published June 20, 2013 4:00 AM


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