Rocco Mediate waits for his turn to putt on the 7th green in the Constellation Senior Players Championship Accenture Pro Am at Fox Chapel Golf Club Wednesday afternoon.
Colin Montgomerie hits off the 9th tee in the Constellation Senior Players Championship Accenture Pro Am at Fox Chapel Golf Club Wednesday afternoon.
By Hayes Gardner and Alex Nieves / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The Constellation Senior Players Championship, one of five majors on the Champions Tour, starts today at Fox Chapel Golf Club.
It's a homecoming for Greensburg native Rocco Mediate.
Mediate is perhaps best known for the 2008 U.S. Open when he finished runner-up to Tiger Woods in sudden death after an 18-hole playoff. But he is struggling this season after finishing 10th on the money list and being named the Champions Tour's rookie of the year in 2013.
After winning two tournaments in 2013, Mediate hasn't finished higher than fifth this year, something he attributes to off-the-course responsibilities.
Mediate remarried in January. That, paired with the changing lives of his three sons, has taken a lot of his time and distracted him from golf. But he doesn't mind.
"[Their lives] make what I do ... nonexistent; it doesn't matter," he said.
But after his youngest son graduated from high school two weeks ago, Mediate said he thinks he'll finish the season strong.
"There's been a lot of changes in my world over the last year, year and a half and they're all for the good," Mediate said.
Perry going back to Valhalla
Kentucky native Kenny Perry will be playing in the final major of his career in his home state after receiving a special invitation to play in the 96th PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville.
Perry has experienced the highs and lows of his career at Valhalla. He lost a playoff to Mark Brooks in the 1996 PGA Championship, but was part of the winning U.S. team in the 2008 Ryder Cup, earning 2½ points.
"Awesome, what a way to go out," Perry said. "Most athletes who have a long career, you don't get to say goodbye the way you want to say goodbye. When your career's over, it's over."
"For me to go back to Valhalla, to go back to a golf course I've had a lot of history with and a lot of disappointments and a lot of triumphs and to be able to go back there and just say thank you to Ted Bishop and the PGA, but to say thank you to the state of Kentucky."
An unlikely captain
Jay Haas, 60, was named captain of the 2015 U.S. President's Cup team June 4, becoming the first player without a major win on the PGA Tour to be chosen captain of a Ryder Cup or President's Cup team. He will be appearing in his fourth consecutive President's Cup after serving as assistant captain to Fred Couples the past three competitions.
"I looked at who the captains were, I had Jack Nicklaus, I had Lanny Wadkins, I had Hal Sutton," Haas said. "You know, I had some world-class Hall of Fame players as captains and I don't fit that mold."
When he tees off in the Senior Players Championship, Haas will be making his 1,000th start on the PGA Tour and Champions Tour.
Bernhard Langer enters the tournament leading the Charles Schwab Cup standings. Langer, a two-time Masters champion and former No. 1-ranked player in the world, took a streak of 21 consecutive top-10 finishes into the Encompass Championship last week. But he tied for 20th to end the run that dated to July 2013.
Langer's 1,552 points in the standings are ahead of Haas' 1,312. Colin Montgomerie (1,283 points), Perry (910), Fred Couples (781) and Tom Lehman (780) complete the top six. Every player in the top 10 is in the 81-player field except Couples (fifth) and Tom Watson (eighth), who are injured.
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