Mediate weathers storm, hangs on for thrilling finish at Open

Local golfer John Ellis watches his approach shot on the 12th

In search of his first PGA Tour win in eight years, Rocco
Mediate needed one final miracle shot.
Standing 116 yards from the pin in the middle of the par-4 17th fairway, Rocco Mediate turned to his caddie Matthew Achatz, arms raised, palms up and perplexed.

Yes, it did go in – again.

In search of his first PGA Tour win in eight years, Mediate needed one final miracle shot. His magic wand, a pitching wedge. The result, an electrifying eagle, sending the gallery into a frenzy and Mediate to 15-under-par and ultimately the 2010 Open championship on a soggy Sunday at CordeValle Golf Club in San Martin.

“Matthew’s eyes were as big as cookies. Going in is a joke,” Mediate said. “I had to hit a good shot. I had to make birdie. I can’t believe it. It’s ridiculous. We have been waiting a long time for this.”

The eagle was Mediate’s fourth for the week. The tour veteran, who held the lead wire to wire, collected an ace on the par-3 third Thursday, an eagle on the par-4 fourth Friday and a spot-on eagle on the par-5, 568-yard 15th Saturday.

“It was one of the shots Mr. (Lee) Trevino showed me, it’s a little cut wedge – a flat wedge. And it worked,” Mediate said.

Mediate finished one stroke ahead of Alex Prugh and Bo Van Pelt, who both birdied the par-4 18th to add some extra drama to the roller coaster final round.

“I never quit,” Mediate added. “The last three or four holes, my nerves were ice. It was really cool.”

Prugh, a tour rookie, nearly aced the par-4 17th, deadening a pinpoint drive one foot from the cup.

“I think 17 is my new favorite hole,” Prugh said. “I was just really happy to make the putt on the last hole for birdie and make Rocco at least think about his putt just a little bit more.”

In the midst of a difficult 2010 and on the cusp of losing his tour card, Mediate had already made plans to attend tour qualifying school, but the victory Sunday guarantees Mediate two years on tour, finishing in the top-125 for the 19th time in 25 years on tour.

“I have a job,” Mediate chuckled. “I signed up for tour school and I was going to go to tour school. That’s where I belonged about a half hour ago. The two years is huge.”

Mediate had it all together for the first three rounds on his way to the 54-hole lead and held a three-shot lead entering Sunday’s mushy final round.

Everything that had been working for Mediate, disappeared through 15 holes, as he and the rest of the players near the top jockeyed for position through the wet conditions. Mediate was 5-over before a 15-foot putt for birdie on No. 16 and an electrifying eagle on 17 sent the exuberant 47-year-old to the 18th hole with a two-shot lead.

Twenty-one-year-old rookie phenom, Rickie Fowler, finished in fourth at 13-under, carding a final round 69.

“The weather was a little tough. The course started changing and didn’t play easy,” Fowler said. “I held my ground well, I think.”

Fowler headed to the 18th tee tied with Mediate, Prugh and Van Pelt.

“I knew Rocco was in the fairway and was about to hit,” Fowler. “He didn’t just knock it close. We knew it went in. It was pretty loud.”

Leave your comments