Play of the Week 2
October 16, 2010
For those nuts like LG and me who are still following the game well into the off-season, this week’s POTW doesn’t come as a surprise. Although it could just as easily be a post from the 2008 US Open season, once again, I cannot help but state the obvious: Rocco Mediate amazes me.
One of the true “good guys” in the game, Rocco seems to have an amazing sense of humor and touch of class to everything he does. Like Matt Kuchar or the John Daly of old, it’s hard to root against a guy who seems so much the underdog on such a grand scale.
To look at Rocco, you get the sense that he’s a tax attorney trying to tell you about his grandchildren. He doesn’t look like a professional athlete, and certainly not like a man who dominated the field and almost got by Tiger Woods at golf’s ultimate challenge two years ago. Although we here at the PF have always been fans of the greatness of Tiger Woods (even in spite of his golf game), the first time I honestly rooted against Tiger Woods came at the 08 US Open. Although it seemed that Tiger was destined to win, Rocco had him against the ropes so many times and just came up a little short.
After such a close call and such a heartbreaking loss–perhaps the best chance to win a major that Rocco will ever get–what did he have to say? “Tiger is unreal. I would have loved to have won, but it was a great day. They wanted a show and they got one.”
But it didn’t stop at that. He could’ve gone the way of Van de Velde, never to be heard from again. But Rocco decided it was just as well for him to point out that he wasn’t Tiger Woods, and that Tiger Woods was something special. In a series of advertisements, it was clear–Rocco just wasn’t Tiger.
After coming so close, Rocco could sit back and easily say “I didn’t win, but that was the best day of my life,” living to smile about it and remember it fondly. This level of class so often eludes the world today.
So, after seeing the leaderboard at the Fry’s.com Open today, a tingle of happiness filled my heart to know that Rocco still has game. At -13, Rocco leads the field of some of the world’s best by 3 shots with two rounds to play. Although golf leads are never truly safe, I can honestly say I hope to see him pull away even more.
But best of all is the way Rocco made it to such a commanding lead. On Thursday, Rocco made eagle with a hole-in-one on the par 3 third hole. On Friday, he followed it up with an eagle with a 160-yard 7-iron on the par 4, 426-yard 6th hole. But his enormous class showed afterward: “That was my record by miles, 34 holes without a bogey. I was so disappointed, but how could I be that angry? I wanted to go at least 36 holes.” And even better, Rocco gave credit to Lee Trevino for a putting lesson Trevino game him in May. “It was priceless [the lesson]. I didn’t want to leave.”
So here’s to you Rocco. Two eagles in two days is amazing. Your outstanding class is something far beyond that. Although you may never have won the US Open, you are a true champion.