There are a handful of golfers like Tiger, Phil, Jack, Rory, or Brooks whose first names alone bring to mind their huge accomplishments in the game. Rocco Mediate is one of those guys but not because he won the big one, but because he lost it in a memorable playoff……..to Tiger Woods
No won will forget Rocco’s name or his performance in his 2008 loss of the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines to Tiger. In some of the most riveting playoff golf we have ever witnessed, Rocco took Tiger, the #1 Player of our time, to the 19th hole of a playoff watched by a gazillion golf fans playing hookey from Monday’s work. He was not intimidated by the task of playing Tiger one-on-one in a playoff for a Major. Rocco relished the moment and would not have wanted it any other way.
Wearing his emotions on his sleeve-an air of quiet confidence always prevailsEmbed from Getty Images
This interview on the No Laying Up Podcast, couched in Rocco’s own devilish story telling style reveals all that has been through over a 35 year professional career-including 6 wins on the PGA Tour, years cast out to the hinterland because of chronic back issues, more then a few flirtations with winning a major, a colossal train wreck on #12 at Augusta in 2006, the aforementioned playoff in 2008 at Torrey Pines, and a second life winning 4 times on the PGA Tour Champions including a Senior PGA.
Rocco methodically won 13 times over his professional careerEmbed from Getty Images
Growing up a drive and a 5-iron from Latrobe, Rocco talks at length about his relationship with Arnold who served as a second father and a life coach throughout his career. Rocco played hundreds of rounds with The King over the years, including walking with him for his final two rounds in the 1994 U.S. Open at Oakmont, a home game for both of them.
But it was his golf mentor Jim Ferree, one of the great ball strikers of all time, who taught him the fundamentals of the game that would serve him so ably for years on the Tour. To this day he still has the same neutral grip that Jim taught him as a teenager and does not wear a golf glove just like his mentor.
As to Tiger, Rocco literally saw him coming, he was in attendance when Tiger won his first U.S. Am at Sawgrass where Rocco was living at the time. Tiger’s immediate success on the Tour was no surprise to Rocco, he knew that this kid had a set of skills the Tour had never seen before. There were a few Tiger tales of course, the tallest of them all being that fateful week they shared in La Jolla at the 2008 U.S. Open.
Wearing red for the Monday playoff Rocco and Tiger were equals that week
There are plenty of other nuggets in this interview, you just have to play really close attention since Rocco’s hyperactive pace of delivery can make it a real challenge to follow the details of the script.
My favorite part of the interview was Rocco’s description of his last PGA Tour win at the Frye’s in 2010. He holed out four times over the four days, the last time on the 17th on Sunday where he asked his playing partner to mark his ball even though Rocco was 116 yards from the pin. The rest is history.
Take a listen to this one, it is full of giggles and grins…..just like Rocco.
Rocco Mediate-Episode 365 (2020)
No Laying Up Podcast