Golf notebook: Greensburg native Mediate looks back on 'amazing' showdown with Woods

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Rocco Mediate finally decided it was time. Time to explain to his girlfriend, now fiancee, why so many fans approach him with such enthusiasm. Time to show her what those fans keep referring to. Time for her to watch his greatest and most heartbreaking moment.

A Christmas or two ago, Mediate sat down with Jessica Sommers and put on the tape. Golf fans know the story -- the one where Mediate took Tiger Woods to a sudden-death 19th hole after an 18-hole playoff at Torrey Pines in the 2008 U.S. Open. Soon, Sommers began to cry watching her future husband compete, and come up short, in one of the most polarizing afternoons in golf history.

"We were just sitting there for a while and then ... " Mediate said. "Pretty much nonstop Niagara Falls.

"Everyone expected destruction. If he beat me by six, who cares? It was the loudest, most amazing three or four hours of my entire life."

Mediate, a Greensburg native, retold the story after his practice round Tuesday at Fox Chapel Golf Club. Mediate has played the course multiple times, but this will be his first time competing in the Constellation Senior Players Championship. He walked away from a practice round with a mouthful of adjectives for the course: "It's an absolutely, ridiculously perfect shape."

Different kind of rookie

Colin Montgomerie won the European Tour's rookie of the year honor in 1988. Tuesday, he was again referred to as a rookie -- a title Montgomerie could only smile to when he heard it.

Montgomerie, the Champions Tour's latest addition, had been told the courses aren't much different than typical PGA courses. After his practice round, he learned the advice was no joke.

"The course isn't as short as I was hoping it would be," Montgomerie said. "It's quite long and punishing."

Now that Montgomerie, 50, is the youngest competitor rather than one of the oldest players in PGA events, he feels he has an advantage.

"When I tee the ball up on Thursday, I genuinely believe I have the opportunity of doing well," Montgomerie said. "On the European Tour I've been playing the last five years, I've been hoping I do well. There's a big difference between the two."

Montgomerie is in a group Thursday with Charles Schwab Cup points leaders David Frost and Bernhard Langer.

Slick greens

Montgomerie and Mediate stressed how fast the greens are after getting a feel for the course, and they weren't alone. John Cook, who is currently fourth in the points standings with one win this season, agreed.

"The greens have some pitch and speed to them," Cook said. "It's a good golf course to begin with, and [it has] major championship conditions. It'll be a really good test."

While it will be a test, Montgomerie already found the solution: Stay below the pin.

"These greens are not to be putted from above the hole," Montgomerie said. "You get above the hole, you come in at bogeys most of the day."

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Mike Vernon: mvernon@post-gazette.com or Twitter @m_vernon.


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