Memorial Tournament

Muirfield Village Golf Club

The Loop

Verdi: Mediate is All Smiles in Favorite Event

LA JOLLA, Calif. -- And on the other half of Torrey Pines South, the nine that seemed to be tilting upward from the weight of the tens of hundreds following Tiger and Phil across the way, there was Rocco Mediate, having an absolute ball. "I'm playing well in my favorite tournament, so how could I not be happy?" said Rocco, who shot an even-par 71 Friday for a two-under aggregate of 140, one swing behind Stuart Appleby.

Mediate went out in 33, then bogeyed Nos. 10, 12 and 17 before an inspired three-wood from 240 yards set up a birdie at the par-5 No. 18. "That's all I got," said Mediate, who made it to San Diego by surviving a playoff qualifier. He promptly went to the merchandise tent and bought a bunch of U.S. Open pins, then attached them to his cap, like the golf fan he is.

Mediate walks as if he's late for an appointment, he's perpetual motion over the ball until it's time to swing away, and he talks to anyone who will listen. One member of his audience Friday was Michael Thompson, an amateur for whom Mediate openly rooted. The kid made the cut, and his caddie/coach, Susie Meyers, said, "Rocco was terrific to be around."

Galleries, on the thin side everywhere beyond the Tiger-Phil-Adam Scott threesome, became instant supporters, yelling "ROCCO!! ROCCO!!" He waved, gabbed, moved on, smiling. "I haven't got many more of these," said Mediate. "Who knows how I'll do on the weekend? We'll see what I've got. But I love this tournament and this setup. You have to be precise and you don't have to make eight birdies every day to stay in contention. To be up there with Tiger Woods, the best in the world, that's what you want, isn't it?"

After his bogey on No. 12, Mediate missed a short birdie putt on the lengthy 13th. Several golfers have remarked about the bumpy greens at Torrey South, but Rocco didn't go there. "Nah," he went on. "I just pulled it. There's nothing wrong with this course. Nothing."

--Bob Verdi