Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mediate Finally at Home on Course

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mediate Finally at Home on Course

Article excerpt

Byline: Bart Hubbuch, Times-Union sports writer

For someone whose house borders the second fairway, Rocco Mediate has enjoyed anything but home course advantage at The Players Championship the past six years.

That could be changing.

The Ponte Vedra Beach resident is finally putting his familiarity with the TPC at Sawgrass Stadium Course to use this weekend. Heading into today's final round, Mediate is poised for his best Players finish since 1996.

Despite finishing with a bogey on the par-5 No. 18 hole, Mediate is tied with Jeff Sluman for third place at 6 under par and stands just three strokes behind surprising leader Carl Paulson.

Mediate isn't the only local player looking good going into today's finish. Jim Furyk is tied for 15th place at 2-under, while David Duval is tied for 21st at 1-under. Len Mattiace and Frank Lickliter are bunched near the middle of the pack at 1-over and 3-over, respectively.

"Hopefully, they'll be hollering for me [today] if I'm in contention," Mediate said of the crowd. "That would be a good time."

Mediate hasn't had many good times at The Players since finishing tied for fourth six years ago. He followed that by missing the cut three times and finishing tied for 57th in 1998 and tied for 65th last year.

But all of that seemed more like ancient history to Mediate the past three days -- yesterday, in particular. He had three birdies on the front nine and was 7-under after recording another birdie on the par-5 16th hole.

The bogey on No. 18 ended his round on a down note, but the smiling Mediate was hardly the picture of frustration afterward.

"I had a couple of boo-boos, but so did everybody else," Mediate said, referring to the entire field's difficulty with ultra-fast greens swirling wind. "I'm not real concerned. I'm just looking forward to [today]. …

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