KDKA-TV Sports' Bob Pompeani and Rich Walsh talk to the Greensburg native and man that stared down Tiger Woods in one of the great Masters' moments: Rocco Mediate.
BOB POMPEANI: Bob Pompeani, Rich Walsh, we're joined right now by one of the legends of western Pennsylvania golf who's made quite a name for himself, Mr. Rocco Mediate. , Hey Rocco, how are you doing and it's great to catch up with you, you look great.
ROCCO MEDIATE: Everybody's good. We're just down in Florida getting ready to start up this year. Our Champions Tour starts late and we start slow, so. I guess we're old so they don't want to kill us early. So that's all. I'm just get ready as usual for all these years.
RICH WALSH: Rocco, we're in the middle of the Masters right now. You've actually led the Masters, you've replaced, you've finished high. What, I think your top finish is 15th. But you know, what's it like heading into that final round. And you, even leading the Masters in general, what's it like playing there?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Well playing there, it's-- Augusta National is obviously a special place. It's just, it's wild, it's so up and down. And so-- there's so hilly, there's so much motion in the golf course it's insane. It's but growing up at home, in mid-western PA, it's not that hilly. So I always like those up, up, up, up, down lies fast, fast, fast greens which we grew up with at home. So it was just like being home, it was just in Georgia.
BOB POMPEANI: I want to ask you about a brutal hole that has really been the undoing of a lot of golfers. And I don't mean to bring up unpleasant memories for you, but it's that little tiny par 3, number 12, Rae's Creek in front, it's only 140 some yards. And yet you had your had your problems on that hole. What happened on that day and why is it so difficult, that hole?
ROCCO MEDIATE: Well that day was-- that's when the back, on the Saturday or the third round, which was Sunday, we had finished like 20 some-odd holes, 26 or 27 holes on Sunday that year because it rained real bad on Friday. I was hurting, hurting, and got to 12, same thing, back went bye-bye. Just miss hit an 8-iron a little bit. And on the thing, went where we're supposed to go, right the water. And then 3 balls later I think I got onto the green.
And I remember Brandon who was caddying for me, who's up from Latrobe up there, I went, how many balls do we have left? That was an awful lot of balls. It was pathetic. But back was, you know I didn't play for like four or five months after that. I was a mess.
I get under the tree and everybody's waiting because I want to hear about the car wreck. And I said all right, all right, hold on a second. I only have one question, then you can ask why? What's the record high score on number 12? They said 12, [INAUDIBLE] by 1. So I did all that for nothing, no record books, nothing, I got nothing. And then just lost it and then we had a good time.
Because what are going to do? Cry? What am I going to do, cry about it? No. Just one of those things that happened and I was lucky to get-- I was lucky to finish. So that was fine but it was pretty funny, pretty funny.
BOB POMPEANI: I think that's what makes you so cool to be around because you have such a good sense of humor and it's self-deprecating king
ROCCO MEDIATE: It's golf. It's golf.
BOB POMPEANI: Yeah.
ROCCO MEDIATE: Yeah, it's golf. Sure.
BOB POMPEANI: It keeps you humble, that's for sure. Rich and I were talking about one of your amazing moments. Because you know Tiger Woods is Tiger Woods, and then when he dominated and went through there was one guy, and it was you, who had a chance to bring him down the 2008 US Open at Torrey Pines. And that is astounding to me that you not only took him to a sudden death day but you also had to go after that. It was so close. But that 18th hole, you were in a position to win. All he had to do is make a putt, but many golfers wouldn't have made that putt. He made the putt to force the sudden death the next day.
ROCCO MEDIATE: You know that's one of those-- I played a lot of golf with him in his day. A lot. Most of my career, well 3/4 of my career he was there, it was great. You wanted that shot. He wanted to play with them, he wanted to be around them. Most people did, some people didn't. But I enjoyed that noise and chaos. It was chaos. I enjoy chaos. I live in chaos. So it was really special.
Then for that to happen it was it was insanely special. I knew he was going to make it. No-- I wasn't like, oh my God, I can't, no. Of course he's going to make it. It's Tiger. Anybody else, no chance.
I say this and it's not even being disrespectful. It's being, it's a fact. If anybody else would have had that putt to tie probably would have been walking to the press room going thanks, I appreciate that, I can't believe I just won the US Open. But not with him. Not with-- no matter-- even where he laid up his third shot, which was dead, he hit in in the left bunker, laid up, he was dead. I mean he nit a beautiful shot anyway, long story short. I still was going, someone's making 4 here, either him or Westwood. More likely Tiger because Westwood had a 12, 15, 12, footer to tie, 2 left short.
So yeah, so it could have been three in the playoffs. I'm glad it wasn't because it was way better with just him and I. I thought. It was fun. Most fun you could ever have. But that's what you want. If it's, like I said, if we play 10 days in a row back then, for sure going to beat me nine. But what about the other day here or there.
BOB POMPEANI: I want to ask you just one final thing here about your career now. Moving forward into the Champions Tour because it's amazing you can continue to play this game to whenever you want to. And you are one of those guys who, and I saw the Safeway event where you were holing out from everywhere, I've never seen anything like that.
ROCCO MEDIATE: That was crazy.
BOB POMPEANI: That was, it was a four hole outs in one tournament.
ROCCO MEDIATE: Yeah. Four shots over 120 yards. Something like that.
BOB POMPEANI: In one tournament.
ROCCO MEDIATE: It was so stupid. Yeah, every day one shot in. It was-- it's never happened before. And I get it. I mean because you look and go, well there's no way. I made a hole on the first day with a six iron, pulled a 7 on the second day, 120 yard wedge third day, 120 yard wedge on the 71st hole the fourth day. Yeah, really? Was I supposed to win? Apparently. Apparently, I was. By one, by the way.
BOB POMPEANI: Hey, man, thanks for the time.
ROCCO MEDIATE: It makes no sense to me. You've got it guys, take care.
RICH WALSH: Thanks a lot, Rocco.
BOB POMPEANI: All the best on that tour, too.
ROCCO MEDIATE: Thanks.
BOB POMPEANI: Rocco Mediate always fun, entertaining, to talk to you. Thanks so much. We appreciate it.
When we come back, another man who has a history with the Masters. He had an opportunity, a once in a lifetime chance to play with Arnold Palmer at the Masters. That's coming up next right here on "Living Room Sports."
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