Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mediate Doesn't Back off; Former Ponte Vedra Beach Resident Has Bogey-Free Day, Shoots 68 to Trail Singh by One

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mediate Doesn't Back off; Former Ponte Vedra Beach Resident Has Bogey-Free Day, Shoots 68 to Trail Singh by One

Article excerpt

Byline: GARRY SMITS

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- As one player after another voiced complaints and reservations about the course changes made at Augusta National Golf Club, Rocco Mediate had a brief and pointed message: Go home.

"Someone will be glad to take your place," said the former Ponte Vedra Beach resident, who now lives in Naples.

That kind of attitude probably explains why Mediate shot a 68 Thursday to finish one shot off Vijay Singh's pace at the Masters.

The 43-year-old Mediate, who has been plagued with back problems for almost the duration of his 21-year PGA Tour career, was one of three players who didn't make a bogey, and he rocketed up the leaderboard when he birdied Nos. 13, 14 and 15 in succession.

"I was very excited to play this week," said the five-time Tour event winner, who qualified for a Masters invitation by tying for sixth in last year's U.S. Open at Pinehurst. "I knew I was striking the ball like I used to because my body is feeling better. That was fun. I had a blast today."

Mediate has been candid about his assessment of Augusta National's changes, and his opinions have run counter to most player reaction. Mediate said it's better to accept the fact that the club owns the course and the tournament and can make changes when it wants.

"Guys are complaining about this hole is too long or you shouldn't have done that to this hole . . . it's their tournament. If you don't want to abide by what they do, don't come," said the Greensburg, Pa., native. "This is a major. It's supposed to be tough."

And after opening with 10 consecutive pars, Mediate kick-started his round with a birdie at the most difficult hole that featured the most controversial changes, the par-4 11th.

Mediate's drive caught the left rough with 207 yards to the hole. He selected a 5-iron, picked the ball out of the rough and landed it on the green 10 feet from the cup. …

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